PRONG has been around longer than some of you metalheads have been alive. Think about that for a second. Longevity. In a day and age where some bands don’t even outlast a carton of milk. With hotly-anticipated new album X – No Absolutes arriving on February 5 (Steamhammer/SPV Records) the band is poised and ready to stomp some heads. I was fortunate enough to get a sit-down with singer/guitarist Tommy Victor recently to discuss the new record, their intense live shows, and more. Check it:
Amps: How do you manage to find that balance between doing whatever the hell you want on albums, while keeping in mind what the fans have come to expect? Or are they one and the same and that IS what they expect from you?
Tommy: Nice question! It hasn’t always been the same; my attitude about that has changed. It’s a challenging issue for sure. I think I’ve come to realize that there should be several elements that make up a basic format or foundation for a PRONG record. Some of that has to do with the fact that we have a catalogue of records. You don’t want people to be disappointed with their purchase. Acknowledging the possibility that our fans have differences in their favorite records, we can’t ignore that we may have to continue referring to all the previous releases. Earlier on, that was different. I think now I have a better idea of what won’t disappoint. But on top of that, every record has to have its own identity. We have to throw a bomb on certain things.
If we didn’t do that, PRONG would be very average. I know for sure that on the new record X – No Absolutes we destroyed some elements and added some new ones.
Amps: I saw you for the first time in 2014 with OVERKILL in Dallas and you guys crushed!! Is the show always that intense? Because if so, sign me up for life!!
Tommy: It’s hard to get away from that intensity. Jason (Christopher, bass) and Art (Cruz, drums) are totally crushing and intense. Then there’s the songs. It’s good to have a package of songs that people may know and can sing along to or identify with. That helps.
Amps: You released Ruining Lives in 2014, then Songs From the Black Hole last year, and now here we are with X – No Absolutes. Are you always writing and recording? Do you ever take a break or vacation??
Tommy: Yeah I slow down a bit here and there. I don’t spend a lot of time writing a lot of songs these days. Whatever songs that are worked on make the record. The lyrics and vocal lines are what takes the longest. That’s where I have to isolate and sit with pen and paper and try a lot of stuff. I usually know a riff that can be worked on by hearing it. So we don’t fool around forever on guitar stuff. That’s all subject to change, too. Maybe for the next record we’ll write it faster or slower than No Absolutes. You never know with this whole thing. But recently we have been able to churn out records fast and efficiently. To me, having lyric concepts available through “living life” is important to me. I get ideas from interacting with people or exercising and whatnot. Then I continue to document these basic ideas for later improvement.
Amps: I see you’re hitting Europe in March, then a U.S. run through May. Any tour plans beyond that mapped out yet, or nothing confirmed? And can you please play Philly, which is where I live now? I will beg if necessary.
Tommy: Actually,that tour runs through mid-June now from what I’ve heard. Anyhow we return to Europe again after that then we hit America again. The whole year is booked up. I’m sure there will be a Philly or Allentown date at some point.
Amps: What is different about X – No Absolutes and what makes it the same PRONG we’ve loved over the years?
Tommy: In recent years we’ve put more and more concentration on “the song” so to speak. I think people will find we upped the dose on the anthems on this record. Also I think this record is more in your face than the last three records. It’s blistering. It’s very punchy. It reminds me of Beg To Differ with this maybe NY hardcore approach. But then I do more singing on some songs than any other record in the past. Everyone has been saying that “Do Nothing” is like no other song PRONG has ever done.
Amps: Do you have any collaborations in the works? Is there anyone out there you’d really like to work with or has that already happened?
Tommy: Yes I do. I have a project with a guitar player from a fairly major metal band in the works. We have most of the album written. I’m not going to divulge too much about it but it’s pretty exciting.
Amps: If you had to pick out one, maybe two moments from your long career that really stand out for you, what are they and why?
Tommy: I’ve been doing this a long time and there are a lot of things that went down. I don’t like the past too much. It bothers me sometimes probably because I’ve made so many mistakes. I really haven’t had much of a clue what I’ve been doing all these years. It’s been a weird ride. There’s a few things that may be poignant, if not that exciting. I remember one of our first gigs, at The Pyramid Club in our home base of the Lower East Side of Manhattan. We were so clueless, I had this garbage bag of t-shirts I had made. It never occurred to me how to sell them, like getting a girlfriend or whomever to sell them on a table in the club. So right after we finished our last song I just yelled out, “T-shirts for sale! 10 dollars!” and sold them from the stage.
Another “gig” early on we played this weird mafioso pizza parlor in Bayonne. The owner had no idea what he was getting into. He had made this little stage and just put a disco ball on the ceiling, He was so proud of it. He came up to me and said “I don’t care what goes on just make sure nothing happens to my new disco ball, or else!” Well of course we literally played maybe 20 seconds and a pit broke out and some kid was on another’s shoulders and punched the ball and it went flying. The show was over and we had to run for our lives. Him and his tough friends were going to kill us.
Amps: PRONG’S music is aggressive and pissed off. What do you do to unwind that isn’t music-related?
Tommy: Video games. Sporting events. Exercise. I read a little too.
Amps: What would you like to say to all the PRONG fans out there in the world?
Tommy: Check out our new record! You can find all the info to get it on our facebook page. Check out the PRONG website for our tour dates. Twitter: @prongmusic . Instagram: prongtheband ! Thanks!
And there it is. My chat with Tommy. Whether you’re a longtime PRONG fan or just discovering them for the first time in 2016, know this: X – No Absolutes is a fine addition to any collection, and you simply must go see them live on this upcoming tour. Your sore, battered body will thank you the next day!
LIVE PHOTOS: ARDENT OWL MEDIA