VampireFreaks.com recently conducted an interview with PRONG mainman Tommy Victor. A few excerpts from the chat follow below.
VampireFreaks.com: So it has been about a year since we last did an interview, how has things been going for PRONG?
Tommy Victor: It's hard to put a statement on that, we started to write some new material and we stopped. We kind of got interrupted with the whole MINISTRY and DANZIG thing, as usual. We are going out on tour in May, so nothing too terribly fantastic. (both of us chuckling)
VampireFreaks.com: How did the tour end up for "Power of the Damager"?
Tommy Victor: Well, we didn't tour too much for it; we did one [tour] in Europe and one in America, which was pretty much a joke. The one in Europe though was good; we had a couple of really good shows out there. It's been kind of rough. We are with a small label right now so we haven't really gotten too much attention or gotten on any big tours yet. We don't really have any tour support right now, so it is hard to make it work out financially.
VampireFreaks.com: I was surprised to hear about PRONG remix album, "Power of the Damn Mixxxer". Never figured PRONG would be a remixable band. What did you think about the idea when it was presented?
Tommy Victor: Well, it wasn't the first time that we did it. It was my idea to go ahead and do it. We did an album called "Whose Mix is This Anyways?" We did it after "Prove You Wrong". We figured that the record didn't get that much attention and we decided to do a remix album. The remix for the track "Prove You Wrong" got more attention and airplay than anything on the actual album itself. We did another remix album called "Snap Your Fingers, Break Your Back" which was remixes of material off "The Cleansing". It wasn't as complete as this one is. This one has thirteen really killer mixes and every song on the album is remixed by somebody different. There is two remixes of "The Banishment" on there; one is done by Clayton Worbeck (REVOLTING COCKS) and the other is done by Rob Caggiano (of ANTHRAX), but every song off "Power of the Damager" is represented on here which I don't know if anyone has ever done it like that before. I do think that PRONG is a remixable band. "Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck" is more of a club kind of hit anyhow. I think we always got to keep that aspect of PRONG around. "Rude Awakening" was kind of already a remix of PRONG material built into a record already, so we didn't need to make one for that album. "Scorpio Rising" sucked anyhow so I didn't care about that. The thing is that the remixes are not there to make it more dancy or anything it propels it into a completely other direction. One of the things I have always been concerned about with PRONG is arrangements. When Glenn Danzig was talking to me about it, he said, "Maybe you should work a little more on the arrangement of the songs." Which I reply with, "I can't, man. Once everything is there, I am honestly over it." I noticed how Al (Jourgensen, MINISTRY) works on his music, and he really focuses a lot on the arrangements of his material. I was really excited to hear other people's take on the material. For example, I was really impressed with Jon Clayden's version of "Worst of It", because he didn't really change the song, but rearranged it a little and the work he did with the drums. It was almost like a better version of the song from the actual album.
VampireFreaks.com: The one aspect of the last album that stood out was how raw it sounded. I was wondering if maybe this new album is going to have a more industrial or polished touch to it?
Tommy Victor: Well, that is really up to Al Jourgensen and how much he really wants to do with that because he is the one that will be producing it. We will see how much he wants to mess with that, and if he does, we will argue a bit about it and see where it goes. I would like to keep that kind of element to a minimal. "The Cleansing" definitely had a lot of those elements to it with samples and such, but I still would like to think of it as more of a rock album. There is no way though that we will have as much as MINISTRY. I am sure we will come up with some kind of compromise on it.
VampireFreaks.com: So what keeps you in the game?
Tommy Victor: There is nothing else I can do. I was a guy working in the club scene before this, I was just a kid that just got wrapped up in all of this so I have nothing else to fall back on. I can certainly still go out there and do it, I am healthy and I am not afraid of the poor living conditions. My daughter doesn't live with me, so I do not have to worry about that, and my girlfriend is pretty understanding about it so I don't have to worry about that either.
VampireFreaks.com: So now that you have had the opportunity to get out there on the road with PRONG, DANZIG, and MINISTRY, what do you feel about where the industry has gone?
Tommy Victor: I don't like it. Back in the day, it was so clear to us what we needed to do and we got excited about it. We knew to go into the studio and make an album, and take it to places like Bleecker Bob's and maybe sell a few thousand records, play a bunch of the gigs. These days, it is all about looking pretty and having a cool look for kids to get interested in. Then you get the extreme metal bands, and they are all honestly starting to sound the same at this point. PRONG never wrote music to be a metal band. Sure, it had metal in it, but we just wanted to incorporate so many different styles into it. These days you do that and you are asking for trouble; everything is so formulated.
VampireFreaks.com: Music by numbers is never a good thing.
Tommy Victor: Yeah, man, I can't even listen to most of the metal stuff that is out there right now; it is so fucking depressing. When I said earlier that there are things I do to maintain my sanity, one of those things is not to listen to what is out there or I will end up blowing my brains out.
VampireFreaks.com: Yeah, I think that the art of making an actual album is somewhat lost with the age of downloading.
Tommy Victor: Yeah, I am definitely cranky about it. We really spent a lot of time back in the day to build an album, there were no Pro Tools then. We did it on two-inch tapes. We may have gone back on a few parts and did overdubs, but there was no copy-and-paste shit. We didn't have the technology back then to figure out Joe Satriani solos. Kids today slow everything down and then figure it out; that doesn't impress me at all. I remember growing up to the NEW YORK DOLLS and even old BOWIE records, and wow, that stuff really had balls to it; this shit today is just flat-out pussy rock.
VampireFreaks.com: Well, I hate to say it but a lot of the metal bands today seem to have just stolen riffs from PRONG records.
Tommy Victor: Well, they certainly mutated it and built on it for their success, one of which being STATIC-X, who are friends of mine and wouldn't mind me saying that. Then you have LINKIN PARK who I know use a lot of "Rude Awakening" for their shit. Hell, rap metal in general ripped off a lot of the PRONG-styled chords. But look, we ripped off some stuff too; we ripped everything off from the BAD BRAINS. I guess the best way to describe what we did was CELTIC FROST meets BAD BRAINS meets THE SWANS. But what I am sick of is this whole Morse code shit — how much time can you spend on riding that damn E string? It's fucking stupid. Write a song, PLEASE; build some kind of choruses. Sure, a breakdown here and there is OK, but mediocre guitar riffs on top of double-bass drum kicks is not a song; and that is what they are calling hardcore these days.
Read the entire interview from VampireFreaks.com.