MAY 4th, 2014

Interview by Rubem Mosqueda
Photo Credit Metal Insider

Guitarist and vocalist Tommy Victor of Prong caught MetalTitans up to speed on the new album titled ‘Ruining Lives’ slated for release on May 13th, 2014. “As producer people have the tendency of going overboard; a good producer keeps that from happening,” say Victor. “We just don’t have the budget to work on snare sounds or guitar sounds for weeks on end.” If you’re a longtime fan of Prong you know that Victor has taken a hands on approach and produced several of the band’s albums. “We took about a month and half to get this record done.

We didn’t do as much pre-production on ‘Ruining Lives’ as we did on ‘Carved into Stone.’ On this album there wasn’t a lot of time for writing and there wasn’t a lot of time for pre-production. We didn’t have enough time to over think it.” Prong will be announcing dates for their North American Tour around the time of the release of the record which will be in supporting role with a band that Victor has many irons in the fire as he has prong and has a couple of releases forthcoming with Glenn Danzig which will likely be released in 2014; “There’s a covers record in the can and I’m told by Glenn that there’s an EP that will be released as well.” 

MetalTitans: How much of what we hear on ‘Ruining Lives’ was written while on the road?

Tommy Victor: The riffs maybe about 1/3 were compiled while on the road with Danzig which was back in October. Let’s give them a little more justice than that and say that half of the riffs were written in dressing rooms, hotel rooms and some of the lyrics were being written through that time as well. They were then compiled and constructed with Chris Collier. We worked on vocal melodies and then we started tracking it.

MetalTitans: You always have a great group of guys in the band. The last couple of times that I’ve seen Prong you’ve had different line-ups but the band is tight. Like you’ve been together for years; an outsider’s perceptive is that it’s seamless but it can’t be that easy to get a touring band together?

Tommy Victor: We put a good amount of preparation for tours. A lot of that is on my part too not just the guys that are in the band. Take a song like “Turnover” that song was extremely challenging everyday for a couple of weeks I had to work on that. It was similar to when we did “Revenge Best Served Cold” when I had to sing like that and play guitar. Let’s not forget that the drummer has to spend a lot of time in preparation too.
When we get together hopefully everyone is prepared and we can adapt to one another. I’d say that is a good 5 to 7 days of intensive rehearsals.

We just got back from Europe and it went extremely well. There’s some stuff on youtube that I found recently. I’d really like for you to check it out. If you look up footage from The Underworld in London and The Casino in Paris—you’ll love I’m sure. The current Prong line-up features (bassist) Jason Christopher and (drummer) Art Cruz who have been touring with me for the past two years.

MetalTitans: You typically add a couple new songs to represent the new album to the set with each tour. What new stuff did you unleash on the European tour?

Tommy Victor: You know when we did the tour behind ‘Carved into Stone’ we kept it to “Revenge Best Served Cold” and “Eternal.” On this tour we plan on concentrating on doing “Turnover” and “Ruining Lives.” Whoever is playing drums live; whether it’s Alexei (Rodriguez) or Art (Cruz) they’re incredibly competent. They’re pros and I’m not concerned at all.

MetalTitans: I’ve followed Prong for a number of years; correct me if I’m wrong but ‘Ruining Lives’ I think is an equal balance of hard rock, metal, alternative rock and hardcore. While I know you’ve made an effort with previous albums I do think that ‘Ruining Lives’ is what it’s been leading up to.

Tommy Victor: I appreciate that. In listening to the record during mixing and afterward I would totally agree with your statement. It doesn’t get to the point where we’re committed to a certain style or genre. We look at the big package; it’s like a collage that is rounded out by the artwork. We’re not going to go completely thrash on a record. It just doesn’t make sense---it has to touch on all these other areas to make it a Prong record. I think that’s what makes Prong distinct from all of these ‘post thrash’ era bands or the hordes of ‘nu-metal’ bands.

MetalTitans: You’re known for coming up with these tremendous riffs. On this record there’s this ‘pop’ element to the songs there’s some great melodies and great hooks that grab you. If someone wanted to discover Prong I’d recommend ‘Ruining Lives’ it would be a great starting point I think.

Tommy Victor: I totally agree with you. I think it’s fresh. I have to give credit to Steve Evans and Chris Collier for that. Evans helped produce the vocals and mixed the record was also involved on our last record. Evans was instrument in getting the vocals that you hear on the album. I needed the proper vocal coach I think in past records there was just too much barking. I need to be taught a few things he pointed out that I have several different voices and it definitely helped get more clarity in my vocals.

I have to add that the song structures have matured as well as I’ve grown as a songwriter. I think a lot of artists have trouble with arraigning songs for some that might be as difficult as coming up with the riffs. This is a professional sounding record.

MetalTitans: Tommy on past record and throughout your career you’ve been known for your riffs. On this record I think you’ll be better known for your vocals.

Tommy Victor: Yeah well I’ve never been known for my vocal that’s true. I’d certainly appreciate that it’s on the job training I think. I’ve been doing this for years hopefully I haven’t digressed. I feel there have been improvements made and Steve has helped me with that. I think it’s very important that you find appropriate words for the song lyrics I think the ‘syllablization’ as I like to call it is also very important. I wanted clarity in the vocal on this album I didn’t want it to sound all garbled.

MetalTitans: Before I let you go I have to ask you about your relationship with Minstry’s Al Jourgensen. Do you guys keep in touch at all?

Tommy Victor: I don’t really have a relationship with him right now. I haven’t played with him in a longtime. You know that aside from Prong I’ve been playing with Glenn (Danzig). My relationship with Al has dissipated and I haven’t had that much contact with him. I really don’t have much to say aside from that other than I haven’t spoken with him in quite a while.