Interview: Tommy Victor of Prong

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Decibel Geek staff writer Adam Cox got the great opportunity to discuss all things Prong with Tommy Victor of the band and chatted to him about song themes, inspirations, Killing Joke, lyrics and why traveling is not much fun for him now.
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PRONG - TOMMY VICTORI have now had time to live with Prong‘s tenth album, X- No Absolutes and really believe it is a stellar release, which will propel the band upwards into the stratosphere. It amazed me with its power and aggression and so I started by asking how Tommy maintains his fire for writing and recording after such a long time and what drives him on.
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Hey, thank you for saying that it’s ‘stellar’. I guess I just have preferred to ‘get things done’ recently.  To have the opportunity to write lyrics , construct songs and make records, is a gift and I try to appreciate that.  To have the ability to still do this, I can’t afford to take lightly. I still feel there’s a place for Prong in the arena of rock. I continue to look around and have things to say. There’s no dogma in my commentary, but I still have a big mouth I guess.”
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A band statement in advance of the album release stated “our themes on this record will certainly inspire some thought” and I was therefore anxious to get at what these themes were and whether there were any specific topics that had inspired Tommy.
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Looking for answers , really.  Questioning.  Writing songs is a little like journaling;  I don’t configure what I’m going write about too much.  Someone pointed out to me yesterday that the lyrics were a bit existential.  I buy that. One of the main issues I think that I was pondering was the matter of control.  It’s something as humans we fight for, but we just don’t have it.
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Knowing that it was likely that significant touring would follow the album’s release, I asked Tommy about the plans for Prong in the coming year.
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We have a lot of tour dates booked starting in March. We go to Europe, then back to America and then more Europe and probably more America after that.
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As a follow up, I wanted to know, in the longer term, whether there were any specific goals he had in mind for the band to achieve.
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No not really. I’ve been doing this for quite awhile and I have been beaten into acceptance. LOL.Prong Us Tour 2016
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I was expecting more of a response to this, but I concluded that Tommy and the band may like to be a bit more organic in their approach to planning and may just enjoy the musical journey rather than mapping out career milestones.
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The album has some very diverse and interesting lyrics and I have always felt that this plays a big part in making Prong unique among their peers.  I was therefore keen to ask about other lyricists that Tommy admired.
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Oh hell yeah! I love Jim Morrison. I think Robbie Krieger had some good ones for The Doors too, believe it or not. But Jim was amazing. He’s my favorite. I like Henry Rollins a lot, Gregg Ginn as well had some good lyrics with Black FlagIan Curtis [Joy Division] is one of my favorites as well.  You see those guys are all existentialist writers in a way.
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Building on this, I went on to ask Tommy about whether he had a dream set of bands to play with.
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“I always wanted to play guitar for Killing Joke. I like old Chrome a lot too. Cream too!  You said ‘dream’, so it’s only that.”
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The Cream reference initially threw me, but it makes sense with Prong being a power trio!
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I turned my attention to some deeper questions and asked about whether Tommy had a specific philosophy in life and whether this comes out in his music.
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I don’t know. But I have a really ‘weird’ life.  I’ve really been on my own path and no matter what I do to try to change that, it doesn’t work.  I think I’m very slowly evolving. I think The Universe eventually straightens our souls out. I’ve been involved in music for a lot of crappy reasons, but it’s been the only way I could function. Not to sound like a pompous ass, but it’s sort of like ‘The Artist’s Way’ of sorts”
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This answer was mysterious, but I could only speculate as to what the “crappy” reasons were, so I asked instead whether Tommy had any places he would have liked to have toured, but has not been able to.  His answer was a big surprise, but the man calls it like he sees it…
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I’m geographically jaded. Society and culture and food sort of bores the hell out of me these days.  I kind of look forward to playing paces like Dayton Ohio. Don’t get me wrong, it would be cool to visit some new places like India. But it would be just to say, ‘Oh yeah I’ve been there’. The more I’ve traveled, the more I lean to believing that we are all the same. Traveling makes you think about things a lot.  I just don’t get the adrenaline rushes from locations that much anymore. That may change, I don’t know. Maybe its because for years people were telling me how great Australia was and I when I finally got there I was like ‘this is it?’
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PRONG_X-No Absolutes_PrintI decided then to ask a somewhat lighter question and checked whether he had any anecdotes about the recording process for X-No Absolutes.
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Not really. Because Chris Collier (co-producer/engineer) and I are just ‘get it done’ type dudes. There’s no fooling around. We get prepared, and get the job done without a lot of questioning. We don’t party, we don’t have a television running and we don’t lounge. Fooling around works for some people, but I can’t afford that luxury. In the two months Prong worked on that record we went out to a restaurant twice and that was when were cutting bass with Jason (Christopher, bassist)”
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Finally, I asked Tommy whether he had approached this record differently in any key way from previous releases, as it seems a really modern metal record.
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“The formula for this production was like Ruining Lives and Songs From The Black Hole. The only difference was in the song search. A few songs were written with Erie Loch (Dream in Red). I wanted some more classically constructed arrangements and Erie came through with that. I don’t like spending ages on the songs anymore. We make decisions and stick to them. It’s a modern record but we don’t fall into the trap of having the option to change things at will all the time. We try to respect the riffs and vocal melodies that we decided on using.
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And that was that!  I am absolutely thrilled to have been able to interview a legend and many thanks to Tommy for his kind time.  I wish the Prong guys all the best for 2016 and onwards…Here’s to at least another 10 albums!
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[embedyt] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_HboZDhXdek[/embedyt]

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