Interview: Prong

This year it is 25 years ago that Prong released their Cleansing album. Because of that they played some European shows with their 25 Years of Cleansing Europe Tour, including three Dutch shows. One of those shows was in Patronaat in Haarlem, on Tuesday August the 13th. You can read our live review of that show here. Before that show DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen interviewed Prong’s frontman Tommy Victor.

Hey, how’s your tour going so far?

It is going really well, really good. The attendance has been great, people have been really excited, so it’s good. The festivals are good. It’s not over though, we have five more shows to go.

Also looking forward to tonight’s show?

Yeah, it’s always great to play in Holland, we have some great fans here. This venue is very nice. We also played here in 2014.

This tour is celebrating 25 years of Cleansing. How do you look at that album now?

I don’t think it’s the best record, but it’s pretty cool. It broke a lot of ground. I don’t think anybody was doing that at the time. That’s what made it successful, because that’s what we wanted to do. We wanted to do something different and break some ground and make a record that no one could really compare it to. There was a lot more space back then when there was uncharted territory. It seems like now everything’s been done. So that was an exciting period, when there was an opportunity to do something that was different.

Is your view on that album changed, now compared to then?

I always thought I liked it. I thought it was a successful record. I don’t think it is that great. I mean, I don’t think it’s as great as I thought it was. But again, it was a groundbreaking record. It wasn’t amazing. I think the last two records have been better, Zero Days and No Absolutes have been of better quality.

What’s your favorite record you did after Cleansing?

After Cleansing I think No Absolutes is probably my favorite. That’s up there for me. I think all the songs are great. It sounded really good, came out really good. I really like that record.

Recently Art Cruz became Lamb of God’s drummer. Sunday in Helmond Aaron Rossi was drumming. What does that mean for the position of drummer in Prong?

That’s a really good question. Aaron is personally my favorite. He plays the songs like they supposed to be played. Art was fantastic. He was a little bit more interpretive of the songs in his drum parts. Aaron is definitely aware of what Ted Parsons did on the older recordings. So personally, I think the fans and the hardcore Prong people definitely like Aaron better. I love to have him around. I think he’s great. We’re getting older like everyone’s got kids and stuff like that. Sometimes it’s hard to maintain that lineup. Art still is a young lad and he’s got that great gig, we are all happy for him. It’s fantastic for him but Prong shall survive with or without Art Cruz.

So, he is out of Prong?

Yes.

Our readers question comes from Bjorn van Toorn. His question is: how is your approach towards new musicians in Prong?

Especially for bass players, it’s really hard to fill that position. There are a lot of guys who play a lot of notes in their generic music. They still can’t play in Prong, they just don’t have the balls. The same thing with drummers. About guitar players, I must say most guitar players I don’t like, I look at guys and they don’t blow me away that much. I’m very conceited when it comes to guitar players. It’s like you have it or you don’t. When we tried having another guitar playing in Prong briefly, I was just like, this isn’t cool. Monte has got to play bass now. Monte is an amazing guitar player, but I still was like “what are you doing over there?” I mean, this is just for Prong. On the big side of things there are so many great bands and players. Guys that are way better than me, but for Prong it’s a weird thing. It’s hard to find guys that fit that mood. Raven was great on bass and Jason has been great. About drummers it’s pretty much a tossup. We got lucky, Ted was amazing. We had Alexei, Aaron and Art, they all are fucking great drummers. So, we’ve been lucky.

Are new musicians in Prong band members or are they hired?

It depends, sometimes.

In the fall you’re going to release a new EP. What can fans expect from it?

I think it is a continuation of what we’ve been doing. It’s in the No Absolutes, Zero Days mode. It’s really a single, more or less, it’s just two songs. Chris Collier worked on him. It’s nothing extremely different. Good songs but heavy.

You also worked with Terry Date for that EP, right?

No, we did not. He couldn’t meet the deadline on it, so we went back to Chris Collier.

You also said that you have no plans to come back to Europe before 2020. In September and October you play some shows with Agnostic Front and Hatebreed. Looking forward to that?

Yeah, it’s going to be pretty cool. It’s going to be interesting, all the clubs that we’re playing are places that we’ve never played before. It’s on a completely punk rock circuit. So let’s see what happens. It’s going to be interesting.

What are your plans after October?

I don’t know yet. We’ll have to see.

You also paint and you also did some new Cleansing artworks for this tour.

Yeah, they’re on sale.

Do you only paint Prong-related stuff?

No, I actually had no intention of painting Prong-oriented stuff. I started painting by accident. I went to a museum with my girlfriend and they had like an art class thing in there. I drew as a kid and everything. They had the seminar and I sat down on it. I was like “this is pretty cool, this is fun.” I drew this thing, like an abstract thing and the instructor said it was pretty cool. It was made with watercolors. I really liked it and then she bought me a whole bunch of paints and some stuff like an easel. I started just fucking doing it. I just was going for it, so it started out.

So you also paint other things?

Yes.

Music and painting are quite different arts, but they are both arts of course.

You are asking really good questions. I’ve been trying to do other stuff. In some ways there are a lot of similarities. It depends how good you want it to be. With creating a song, I’ve come to the thing where I don’t like to spend a hell of a lot of time on it. It’s like it’s there, I throw it down and make some arrangements on it and that’s it. You have to be committed to it. So it’s similar to painting, where you have to be committed to it, you just put paint on a canvas, then it’s there and you really are stuck with it. You can’t really do anything with it. Music you can manipulate a little bit more or fix it up. Now with the digital technology you can make it sparkly. With art you can’t do that. What are you going to do? It’s done, it’s there, there’s no eraser on a painting.

Are there also some similarities for you in your experience of creating?

Recently, unfortunately, I’ve got more pleasure out of painting than playing music. You’re just getting crazy and you start throwing paint around. You get a lot more instant gratification for yourself, artistically. Other people look at it and they’re just like “who gives a fuck, who cares?” The process of it sometimes is more enjoyable because you’re taking more chances and you really don’t give a fuck about the results that much. When being in a rock and roll band you worry about whether people are going to like it, critics, other people, whether it is going to sell. All this other stuff comes at you. When you’re making a painting, who gives a fuck, it’s done. That’s it. Maybe no one even sees it, you’re just doing it for yourself. Maybe somebody you know looks at it when you’re hanging it in your house. I started using it as interior decoration for my house. We won’t go out and spend $300 on a painting. So, I got a new place and just put my own shit up there.

But that doesn’t mean you’re stopping with music, right?

No.

In March you premiered the first episode of Tommy Plays Prong. Can we expect another one?

Yeah, I probably do the Cleansing thing. I’d like to do more guitar instruction, showing people how the stuff was played, more than anything. I think that’s important. I want to get more in depth on that. I’d like to show how easy it is, kids should know.

So that they pick up an instrument?

Yeah and how easy it is to play.

What will be your advice towards young musicians?

It’s so hard today. You have to be so good now. When we were kids there was really not that much of an opportunity to be that great. When creating a record, you’d have to take the piece, you’d have to take the style, try to figure it out and go back. Going back and forth through a little piece of your record. We just played through the whole thing. It’s sort of like you think that you’re doing it right. Now kids have so many instructional things online, there are all kinds of programs and slowing shit down. We didn’t have that. Now they slow everything down. Kids come on every day, then they speed it up, it’s a whole different thing. So, kids today are a lot better players. I really don’t think they shouldn’t even listen to me. What am I going to tell them? It’s a whole other game now.

But you have experience.

Yeah, but what does experience give you? I don’t really know. It’s a totally different time.

Thanks for your answers and enjoy your show. Is there anything you want to say to our readers?

Thank you. Hit us all up on Facebook and just keep an eye on it.

Here you can read our live review of the show after our interview, while you can read our earlier live review of Prong at Dynamo Metalfest 2017 here.

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