JULY 12th 2017

MetalTitans caught up with Tommy Victor while doing press for the latest Prong album. Victor and Co are fresh off the tour supporting Testament fills us in on working with Chris Collier “Chris gives me the go ahead, he makes sure that if a riff sounds too reflective of something from the past.” ‘Zero Days’ is a continuation of ‘Carved Into Stone,’ ‘Ruining Lives,’ ‘X-No Absolutes’ and then some. “We have this new Prong record we spent so much time and energy on it; we got it to about 99% to our liking,” boasts Victor about ‘Zero Days’ which is slated for release on July 28th on SPV USA.

MetalTitans: You literally just got off a tour supporting Testament, Danzig just issued a new album and Prong has a new album ‘Zero Days’ coming out at the end of the month. How do you juggle everything?

Tommy Victor: I just did two blocks of Danzig and I just got back from a couple of European festivals with Danzig. I’m not gonna lie to you it’s kinda brutal! [laughs] At times it might be a bit much, I know there are people within the Prong inner circle might not appreciate it but it’s what I’ve got to do.  Churning out these records so quickly has been a challenge, I get off tour and I spend a day with my girlfriend and then I’m in front of a computer working on music for the next thing I’m going to do. It’s pretty crazy! [laughs]

MetalTitans: So how long has ‘Zero Days’ been in the can?

Tommy Victor: I’m really bad with dates but we finished the record three days before we left on the Testament tour. We started on it at the end of January [2017]and we worked on it through the start of the Testament tour.

MetalTitans: Did you have a contingency plan in the event you weren’t stratified with the record leading into the Testament tour?

Tommy Victor: [laughs] That’s a good question, as co-producer on the record my main job was scheduling.  So I always had in mind, Chris Collier who worked on the record with me would say stuff like “We’ve got time.” I’d be like “No dude we don’t! It has to be done by this time!” [laughs] I had to keep things on track otherwise the whole thing would be a complete disaster. We did have that problem because I was hoping to have the record finished by the middle of February or the beginning of March [2017]. So the fact that I had some wiggle room enabled us to get the album mixed before the Testament tour.

MetalTitans: You brought Prong back in 2007 but I feel that it wasn’t until 2012 that you got your second wind, part of it was that the songs were consistently good but your were spending more time on the vocals. You were doing some more ‘singing’ on ‘Carved Into Stone’ forward.

Tommy Victor: Absolutely. I agree that is totally true, that’s something that we wanted to focus on going into the recording of ‘Carved Into Stone.’ When we were selecting producers I was looking for someone that would focus on the vocals. I never had any vocal training and I recall when we were working with Terry Date whatever I did was fine. I wanted to put more attention on the vocals and that’s why we worked with Steve Evetts [Sepultura, Skinlab, The Cure]on the ‘Carved Into Stone’ record. I learned a lot from him from working with him on that record as well as the ‘Ruining Lives’ record. Chris Collier has some great vocal ideas as well; we kept expanding upon what Prong did with Steve on ‘Songs from the Black Hole,’ ‘X [No Absolutes],’ and the new record ‘Zero Days.’  I look at it as a re-education or ‘on the job’ training because I don’t know what the hell I’m doing half the time! [laughs]

MetalTitans: So there wasn’t a vocal coach in the picture, it was hands on in the studio.

Tommy Victor: I’m terrible with lessons! [laughs] I’ve never taken guitar lessons, I think I have too much of an ego. I hate being told what to do unless there’s a record that needs to be done or  that needs to be improved upon. I found that learning during the project is what has worked for me and it’s how I do it.

MetalTitans: I didn’t get a chance to talk to you when you were doing press for ‘Songs from the Black Hole’ the core and punk covers where a given but you took a huge risk with “Cortez The Killer.” You made that into an ‘epic’ and that’s some singing on that.

Tommy Victor: It’s interesting that you mention that because in doing that record that opened up another door. The band, the label executives and the engineer who we recorded the album [in Europe] with felt that I should just growl over that song.  It was like the vocals were secondary. I didn’t agree, so when we returned to America I recut the vocals with Chris [Collier]. I had tried a couple different things on that song and I just decided that I would try to emulate what Neil [Young] did on his version but with my voice. We listened back to it and it worked. We decided that we’d utilize that style of vocal on the ‘No Absolutes’ record, so that song opened up another door for us. I think had I come out with that style of voice on a Prong record the fans would have taken aback but since it was a cover it wasn’t difficult for them to digest. I think that helped open things up for songs like “Do Nothing” and “No Absolutes” on ‘No Absolutes.’

MetalTitans: You didn’t tour behind ‘Songs from the Black Hole’ to my recollection but have you ever performed “Cortez The Killer” live?

Tommy Victor: We haven’t but we have played songs from that record in Europe. We did perform a handful of those songs when we toured Europe like; “Seeing Red,” “Banned In D.C.,” “Vison Thing” and couple others that I can’t recall at the moment.  We took a huge chance on that record, thinking back now I don’t know if the Prong audience really understood what we were trying to do on that record especially in Europe. We took a chance but overall I don’t know if people ‘got it.’

MetalTitans: I imagine you’ve got some tentative plans to tour the United States this fall after you get back from Europe?

Tommy Victor: [pause] I think we’re probably going to wait a little bit. I don’t really what’s going to happen at this moment. Like you said we head out to Europe for a bit and then we’ll see what happens after that. America is tough you have to do things right, the Testament tour was great for us because there were a lot of people who saw us and they didn’t even know the band was still around! I think the older metal audience isn’t that connected with the internet. I think if major shows come around they’ll go to it but I don’t think they seek the smaller club shows.

MetalTitans: I’m a huge fan of your work with Ministry you were a huge part of some great records with Al Jourgensen.

Tommy Victor: I put a lot of energy into them. I’m a little bit bitter about it mainly for financial reasons. I think I was treated unfairly in working with Al. I like Al a lot as a person; I was committed to it because I thought there was a future there.  When I got involved with the ‘Rio Grande Blood’ record Al had swooped me up out of Danzig and he put me right to work. I remember he said “Well, what do you got?” A lot of the songs and ideas that I had were supposed to have been used for a future Prong record.  On ‘The Last Sucker’ Sin [Quirin] put most of the music together and on ‘Relapse’ it was [Mike] Scaccia and I. I put a lot of work into that band I never got any royalty checks! Like an idiot I signed with his publishing company and he never paid me.
I think in retrospect it was a blessing because I put all my energy into a ‘dynamic’ Prong record which turned out to be ‘Carved Into Stone.’ I know we released ‘Power of The Damager’ which was good but that one was rushed. I had a bunch of riffs on my computer and we listened to them and I thought we’d make an album; looking back now I think I would’ve like to have spent more time on that record.

MetalTitans: On the Ministry ‘Cover Up’ record you handled vocals on the covers of “Mississippi Queen” and “Space Truckin’” what’s your recollection of how those came to be?

Tommy Victor: Al was the producer and Al made all those decisions…I wanted to more singing in Ministry because he always had another vocalist in there. A lot of the Ministry records are like a ‘free-for-all’ in a lot of ways; it’s massive studio session where he pulls people in and out.  I had gone down to El Paso [Texas] to his studio and he had selected the songs and how was going to perform on what.

MetalTitans: There’s a Danzig Elvis covers record in the can too, no?

Tommy Victor: Yeah, the Elvis record is done.

MetalTitans: What the timeframe for release on that one?

Tommy Victor: That’s Glenn’s deal... I really don’t know. Glenn will call and ask me what I’m doing and if I’m free he’ll ask if we can get together and work on some songs.  Which is how we recorded the Elvis covers record; Glenn doesn’t like people to be prepared too much. I’ll give you an example I’d be going to record on a Saturday and he wouldn’t tell me which [Elvis] songs we were working on until Friday night! [laughs] So I’d stay up all night learning the songs so I would be somewhat prepared on Saturday. Then we’d go in on Saturday he’d say “I don’t want you to do any of that!” We’d wind up doing it in a completely different way! [laughs] So I have no say in the matters of Danzig I just try to make him happy.  It’s called ‘Danzig’ it’s his puppy! [laughs]

MetalTitans: You have a project with George Lynch in the works. What’s the status of that?
Tommy Victor: [laughs] Well, I’m trying to do that! [laughs] I’m sure he’s a little aggravated with me right now…I really didn’t do anything in getting this thing started. George started it and we’re just trying to finish it up. I just don’t have any time to do that right now. So to answer your question ---it’s in progress.