The 90’s weren’t the best time for most of metal music, with genres like grunge and it’s knockoffs were dominating the airwaves. But beyond that, there were at least a few bands to save us from full on flannel domination. Along with the leaders of that era, Pantera, one of the other bands to get some real airplay back then was the New York industrial metal band Prong.Their 1994 album, “Cleansing”, saw the band reach their sales zenith and lead by the smash song “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck”- a song that bands still try and cover a lot to this very day.
The band disbanded after their 1996 album “Rude Awakening”, only to return in 2002 and continued to release new music throughout the decade. As the career of Prong frontman Tommy Victor has progressed, he’s become a very in demand person, sharing his Prong time with stints with Danzig and Ministry. Victor has performed on the last 3 Ministry records, including the recently released “Relapse” album.
But with his main duties in Prong moving back into the forefront, the band is set to release their new album, “Carved In Stone”, due out in May. Along with the album, the band will team up with Crowbar for a tour that is sure to bring back some metal memories and explore the future.
Before the tour with Crowbar started, I had a chance to interview Victor about how the new album came together and the staying power of their biggest hit.
Here’s my interview with Tommy:
AM: After stints in Danzig and Ministry, what was your mindset behind working on the new Prong album?
TV: I felt really positive going into the album and felt really confident we could put out a great album. I’ve got some experienced veterans in the band now (including ex-Static X bassist Tony Campos) and the material really came together quite easily. There was a good energy behind this album that might have not been there with the last album. We spent about 2 years altogether on the band, between pre-production, demoes that we kept and threw out some before completing it.
AM: What did Steve Evetts bring to the table that past producers have not?
TV: He was extremely proactive about the process. He was involved in every aspect and directing the band musically and me vocally. We knew he could get us to creating the music that we wanted. In the past, we had guys who were more strictly engineers versus actual producers, so it helped to have Steve for this. Within the past few months, we’ve been narrowing down the list of songs from 25 to 11. We even pulled a few ideas that were scrapped before and fixed up the guitar part, or the lyrics and made them stronger than they initially were.
AM: How has your lyrical and musical influence changed over the years?
TV: I think I’m more well read now than I was in the past and definitely influences the lyrics to some extent. But musically, I feel like the way we write hasn’t really changed much. With songs like “Path of Least Resistance”, it shows off this zen attitude that I might not have had in the past. Then there’s others like “Talk Myself to Sleep” discusses how we straddle the line on certain things. There are some subtle changes, but that attitude remains the same.
AM: What album do you feel is the closest kindred spirit to “Carved In Stone”?
TV: I think it’s the closest to “Beg to Differ”. We really focused in on a guitar and drum based album and things were pretty organic this time around. We didn’t use Pro-Tools and all that stuff. We wanted to make an album that was in line with the material we put out in 1990 and kept it in that mindset.
AM: How has self-releasing material benefited you recently?
TV: Obviously, things have changed budget wise over the years. But even when we were on Epic, we really didn’t have that big of a budget compared to the bigger bands. The most we ever had on a recording budget was for “Cleansing” and “Rude Awakening”. But back in the day, if you sold 70,000 albums- there was a lot of yelling and people calling it a failure. These days, that same album is considered a strong selling album. It’s just in relation to how things are in the music industry these days and try and work around it.
AM: How did you end up meeting Al Jourgensen and working with Ministry several years ago?
TV: I met Al years ago, but we were busy with our own bands. But a bunch of years ago, Al called me and asked me if I wanted to get involved on their “Rio Grande Blood” album. I had a lot of riffs that I had worked on and had them on my IPod, or used a Dictaphone to get the riffs. Once Al had the riffs, he took over with the lyrics. I just went out for a week right after touring with Danzig to write some new riffs for the upcoming album as well.
AM: Are you amazed at the staying power “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” has had over the years?
TV: I’m still amazed at the number of bands that cover that song and the staying power it’s had. It really is the highlight of my career and I’m proud of it. We just hope that the music we write now holds up like that 20 years from now and would love it if it did.
Prong plays at Harpo’s on Saturday, April 21st. Tickets are $20 and are available at www.ticketmaster.com. Additional tour dates and band info can be found at www.prongmusic.com.