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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
PRONG TOMMY VICTOR INTERVIEW NOVEMBER 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS - PRONG MAINMAN TOMMY VICTOR INTERVIEW NOVEMBER 2014

Prong have been one of those bands that have influenced a lot of the modern era of metal and rock, even Max Cavalera cites the band as being a main influence on his work. So it was finally great to see a headlining tour of Australia announced which will mark the band's very first tour of Australia in their long career. We caught up with founder Tommy Victor to discuss their latest release "Ruining Lives" and what fans can expect on the tour.


Andrew: So the first thing I gotta ask is first time in Australia coming up in November, we are looking forward to it. What can we expect on this tour?

 

Tommy: High energy shows packed with the hits and new stuff. The stuff that we have been doing seems to be going over extremely well everywhere we go. We've had nothing but great responses since the "Ruining Lives" record has been released and we've been touring like crazy for it. It's good for Australia to finally experience Prong because they probably hadn't heard anything exactly like it. There's lots of different types of bands going through over there but there's only 1 Prong!

 

Andrew: That's exactly right! For many of us we've never had the opportunity to see you guys live before. What exactly does a Prong show entail? What kind of stuff do you try to do, do you have the same setlist or do you try to change it up?

 

Tommy: Occasionally we do change it up but when we do the set I'll ask the other guys Art (Cruz, drums) and Jason (Christopher, bass) if they wanna do this song or we'll play those songs here and there. Jason is good at reading the audience and seeing what he thinks we should do at a certain point but for the most part it's a standard set. There's a lot of songs where it's impossible to skip or overlook or not do, some real important ones especially off the "Cleansing" record. There's just a certain amount of songs that have to be done on that one.

 

Andrew: Yeah definitely. I would say most Australian fans are most familiar with that album more than anything. That one and probably "Rude Awakening" as well I would think.

 

Tommy: OK well that's good to know, I appreciate it. "Rude Awakening" sometimes we skip over some of the tracks but "Cleansing" is definitely one of the stronger crowd responses, anything from "Cleansing" is. Even the new ones like "Turnover" from "Ruining Lives" is getting to be a pretty popular track so the response has been amazing for that.

Andrew: So let's discuss the new album "Ruining Lives". It's a little different to the previous album "Carved Into Stone". Have you been playing many songs off that one on this current tour?

 

Tommy: Right now we are doing 2 off "Ruining Lives" and around 3 from "Carved Into Stone". We want people to experience the new record and get their hands on it and then the next time we come through a lot of places, we'll probably play more off the last record. Over in Europe people are familiar with "Carved Into Stone" so we'll give them 3 on that one.

 

Andrew: Just the album title "Ruining Lives", what exactly does that represent as far as the album?

 

Tommy: It's about this mass media, fast food restaraunt, the internet...keeping us addicted to certain things that are just shackling us from living a life that is probably more happy or better for us and a healthier life. It's a typical topic but I just feel that travelling through the middle of America and you can see a bunch of overweight, obese people in their scooters shopping for more food in Walmart. It's about mass consumption and filling ourselves. It doesn't have to be about food...bad information that is floating around everywhere and there's not enough good information and you have to seek that out in order to train your mind I guess and somehow remain steady and being potentially happy or capable of doing what you have to do. Capitalism in a way there's good things and bad things about it, I think the stress in these times is buy more and think less and die miserable.

 

Andrew: Aside from the more positive things that have come out of it, do you think the internet and technology from that has been an instigator in a lot of that as well?

 

Tommy: We have garbage on the internet but I mean if you have a question about something, it's great to find answers on your phone or on the internet. But if you look beyond banner ads and like I go on AOL and there's a lot of features that are really sponsored links to something that they're trying to sell essentially. I mean it's all about selling products really, its another method of doing it. So you're pretty much turning on your computer and just being fed more advertising. You know how the press is these days especially in America, that "news" is just sponsored infomercials. It's just one topic of one song really, Prong is essentially not a political band that much. It's about having a good time but at the same time, there's some art in it too. We're trying to be a little conscientious about what I'm saying, I've always stepped away from songs about murdering babies or raping virgins or your dungeons and dragons or lord of the rings.

Andrew: Obviously you guys have been around for some time now, how much has the writing and making of songs changed over the years? Or do you try to do the same thing for each album?

 

Tommy: Na it don't change, you only have to adapt to a situation. The time frame for "Ruining Lives", creating, producing and recording was a short amount of time so I had to adapt to that and the budgets have gone down and you try financially to make things work too. Contrary to the 90's where you had a larger budget so there was a lot more records to be sold and therefore...I wish we had these methods of making cheap records back then. We did, it's just that we looked to the people pushing papers around who decide well if we spend all of this money on all of this, you know videos that cost $60,000 when these days you can do one for a $1000. So the cost of making a record have gone down so there is a challenge of doing good ones. A lot of people with home studios who think they can make good records and they're not good records...I come from the era where we recorded everything too. I do continue to do that, we don't do that much so called 'in a box' in pro-tools. The last couple of records especially "carved Into Stone" was recorded like we did on tape, we didn't really change that much on the technical side of things. Music uses technology to write and of course that era we didn't have that and was all sort of mental memory, sitting in a rehearsal space for 8 hours a day or whatever, that's been bypassed a lot. You can communicate with your band members more easily through the internet and send files and stuff so it's mix and match.

 

Andrew: Yeah there's definitely some positives and negatives to a lot of that stuff. That brings me to another thing and I'm not sure if you heard about this but Gene Simmons had actually said that rock is dead. What is your take on how rock music is today?

 

Tommy: I understand where he's coming from. I mean everyone knows about that statement, it's plastered all over the place. You hear it on sports radio for crying out loud. I understand where he's coming from, they come from an era where...and Kiss of course, their whole impetus was to sell a lot of records and be corporate moguls which they succeeded at beyond anybody's imagination. But I don't think that's what rock is, kids still want to pick up a guitar and play. I know people in guitar sales and the companies that are providing instruments and accessories for people to play aren't really suffering that much. Proffesional musicians are but there is a massive industry that's revolved around people playing and there's still kids picking up guitars and basses and learning how to play drums. So if that's an indication of rock being dead, whether his idea of rock is with Kiss which was money making music, that is dead. I do it because I like to do it, I come from a different scene, I'm not from the hair metal scene. I grew up around punk rock and we did it because we were pissed off and I guess we were rebelling against corporate things and mass ideas and organised religion etc etc. That's wired into me and I can't help not being that way in a lot of ways but that's the music I grew up on and I like and I still do like. I'm a little bit of a goth too so certaintly the hair metal 80's music, yeah that is dead. You can't go in and make an expensive record and sell 5 million copies in the first week anymore.

Andrew: Yeah that's right. Everything comes and goes and there's different trends.

 

Tommy: Yeah the concerning trend is the fact that there are no more record stores and what is the industry going to do about it. And Gene chimed in and he's an intelligent guy and I think him saying something like that may have alarmed people and the older generation don't realize a lot of times the state of affairs. There's a lot of jobs on the line and it is an industry that people are concerned with. I'm not that much, I'm in the music business and I do get informed about certain things and the reality of things but I can only focus on what I do. I write songs, I play in a band, I go on tour and if I can put a couple of bucks in my pocket at the end of the tour and I mean a couple of bucks then I think I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing. There are things I can't control and that's one of them unless I completely quit and then find another line of work or another artistic endeavour to try and get involved in.

 

Andrew: If you weren't doing music, what do you think you would be doing?

 

Tommy: I have no idea. I made that attempt in the middle of my career with Prong, I decided well what was I going to do? I did have some kind of basics in audio engineering but those guys were suffering too so it's hard all around. I've been playing and touring since I was 17 years old so I don't know what I want to do, there's nothing else I really want to do. Something will be put in front of me that as far as my goals go, there's nothing that comes to mind.

 

Andrew: How does it make you feel when you hear about bands like Korn and Nine Inch Nails and Soulfly who all say they credit you as being a huge influence on them.

 

Tommy: It doesn't really mean that much to me. I've said this before that getting credited with those guys, I don't really believe it that much because they are all brilliant on their own and they've influenced a lot more people than I have. Music is music and you take your pick from things. Give me a notebook and I could probably fill in all the lines on the pages of all the people that I have been influenced by. It's all about the effort of taking. I never owned anything really, what I come up with is not mine so therefore it's nobody's essentially.

 

Andrew: I had read recently that you are in the middle of recording a new covers album, is that true?

 

Tommy: Yeah we're almost done with it and it's going to be on SPV/Steamhammer records which is our label that we are signed to and that's coming out in April. This is another positive thing for Prong, we didn't really have any expectations about going in and covering some covers. It turned out to be going so well that we made a decision to put it out as a proper release so it's going to come out in April. I'm really happy with it, it's amazing from the selection of the songs to the performances, it's pretty remarkable.

 

Andrew: What kind of songs are we looking at, like from bands that have influenced you?

 

Tommy: I didn't choose the songs, Jason Christopher the bass player chose the songs. I found that I have a lot of faith in these type of things where I pick peoples brains and after I pick them I ask them questions and I let them make some certain decisions and what he came up with was really good. It was his knowledge of the music so he really dialed it in on not only just the bands but the actual songs that should be covered so kudos to him on the whole process

 

Andrew: Nice! Well we are looking forward to seeing that when it comes out next year. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, we are looking forward to seeing you guys when you come over to Australia. It should be a good tour!

 

Tommy: Yeah man I appreciate your time! Thank you very much.

 

Tommy spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe November 2014

 

 

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