Since 1986 Prong has been one of the hardest working bands in heavy music, taking their crossover brand of hardcore punk inspired metal across the world and penning classics like Prove You Wrong, Whose Fist Is This Anyway and Snap Your Fingers.
Main member Tommy Victor has cranked out New York flavored mosh pit metal and groove since the early days. Though periods of stagnation happened, since 2012’s Carved Into Stone, Victor and crew have churned out a record almost every year to 2017’s Zero Days. Victor has definitely made up for lost time.
Zero Days releases July 28, Victor comments on the album art, “The all-seeing eye in the skull–it’s been in Prong history. It’s a quest for balance and a universal law of sorts,” he says. “The spikey contusions on the skull, it’s pretty much the way it is. It’s sort of the motif of Zero Days, like time is running out with an apocalyptic vibe on the cover.”
Victor explains the inspiration of two new songs. “Whispers was generated from me living on the East Coast and then the West Coast. They’re completely different. Mentality, socially and politically they’re different.” Though rooted on the East Coast, Victor took pieces of lifestyles from both sides making a balance. “The difference is, like someone screaming at you and someone whispers at you, the screams in the dark.” Victor says L.A. life is more nocturnal than the East Coast. Off The Grid is described as an escapist fantasy. “I’d like to be away from all the media and outside influences and not have any part in anything, just focus on self-realization. The only way to do that is become a Tibetan monk or something.” Victor wants freedom from interference and the noise and opinions on social media. “Let’s get out of this whole mess and find some peace.”
Victor hints on new live songs, “We’re doing two right now, time permitting. I never tried to do a lot of new material because people want to hear the old stuff.” He wants to hit crowds with new material each record but also play the classics. I think Divide and Conquer will be the first single and the other is a surprise at this point.”
He assures that the fan demanded classics will be delivered every show, “Of course, obviously, Snap Your Fingers, even if they don’t know Prong, they know that song. We have to play that one and Whose Fist Is This Anyway.
After a period of stagnation, Prong’s been making up for lost time cranking out four to five records in five years. “On a business end, its’ part of a tragedy,” he says. “I never felt Prong had its run of consistent records and it was important to do this. Churning out a batch solidifies the legacy a little more I think. I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think we could.”
In the past, Victor has written about fake news on social media, “It’s total opposites going on there. I don’t know who to believe and don’t know what the hell’s going on. I’m as confused as everyone else. I don’t like to make allegiance with anything. I don’t pay attention to it, to anything at this point.”
With so many genre labels, Victor brands Prong as a crossover band. “The initial idea of a crossover was between hardcore and thrash with this post-punk industrial, groove metal thing. So we crossed into all that and I could carry the flag of crossover now. Prong isn’t a genre specific band. Again we’re playing with Testament, a thrash band; we never had the ability to do that or the benefit of [reaching] that target audience. We’re sort of all-over I think. In the conclusion of this line of records we show people where we are, just getting it out there and making people aware and exposed to that. The attendance was great and in Europe all the shows [were] successful. We’re older too, and being a legacy band with new records, it’s difficult.”
Prong recently finished touring with Testament, “That was a great tour for Prong,” he recalls. “People are more attentive to these bigger tours. Testaments a hugely successful legacy band, Prong has been meandering around doing smaller club tours, in a van. Some audiences don’t pay attention to those shows.” Some demographics aren’t on social media and haven’t kept up with the band. “We get the older audience that don’t do that, they’re excited we’re back but we’ve been back for five years. They just didn’t know about it. The Testament shows, Chuck Billy getting us on the tour, Sepultura, those guys were great. It was a good tour for us.”
In the early ‘90s Prong toured with White Zombie, “Yeah that was a great period because no one really knew what was gonna happen,” he remembers. “Both bands were taking a lot of chances and White Zombie was more successful, with a more identified image and strong act. We grew up with White Zombie, based out of New York. They had done shows before with friends of ours and shared management and had a lot of similarities. I don’t think we appreciated it years ago as we should have. The scene was underground but strong. A lot of people were showing up. Eventually they got huge attention.”
A few years back, Prong released Unleashed In The West, their ‘official bootleg.’ “People can check that out on Spotify [and iTunes]. We may be doing another.” Victor says the shows they don’t record usually go great but once they press the button, something always goes wrong. “Having the benefit of recording the whole tour would be awesome. Picking and choosing from different shows would probably be the best way to go about it.”
Speaking of live, Victor has mixed feelings about the festival circuit, “We seem to be successful at Hellfest. We just did it a few weeks ago. For some reason Prong always does really well in France. Wacken [Open Air] is really high pressure. There’s just so much attention on it and it’s a humbling experience because you’re lower on the bill. We have to get in the mindset of Prong is, what it is and we’re not out there competing with anyone.”
Prong plays Metal Maya in Mexico in late October with Anthrax and Overkill among others, “We’ve never done any of those cruises or anything like this before. So we’ll see what happens. They wanted to do something in Mexico like that. I don’t drink or do drugs, so I’m mainly worried about getting bored. If there’s a pool, I’ll be there drinking Diet Cokes or something.”
A follow up to Zero Days could come within a year, “I would tend to think so. I’d hate to destroy any quote, unquote momentum. We’ll have to see. It’s a matter of seeing what ideas are coming out. If it’s stagnant, we’ll have to work harder and wait a year. If things start flowing again, I’ll make that decision in about five months.”
Victor loves Prong records but, schedule willing, would like to do something different, “Musically yes. With Prong you get into this songwriting mentality and I’d like to keep going further with that, without limitation. We have to make a record that represents the whole catalog. It would be great to do a record that completely took chances. Just do something that’s different, strictly song orientated, not completely in the metal genre.” If Prong had a break Victor would find a co-writer and do some serious song writing.
“I have a lot of things I’ve been doing, every time I try to start, I have to go out and tour again. If I get a decent home studio together maybe something will come out of that.”
Victor’s dream musical collaboration would be playing with Killing Joke, though he would be nervous in Jaz Coleman’s company.
He still has an ongoing working relationship with Glenn Danzig, “He doesn’t do a lot of touring and we’ve been doing some recently. The records taking a long time to finish and we just finished the Blackest of the Black Festival. I just got back from two festivals in Europe and he’s got a tour in September. He just came out with a new record which I’m on. I’m still shuffling and scheduling between projects but Prong is definitely a priority and Glenn has been cool and worked around my schedule.”
A three-pronged closing message to the fans, “Check out Facebook, like the page and find us on Twitter. We’re trying to boost our social media. We’re trying to do it organic. Do that and keep an eye on what we’re doing. We’re planning a tour of America around Halloween. We’ll have a lyric video out for Divide and Conquer. Keep an eye out and buy the new record.”