Tommy Victor: A Rock And Roll Fables Conversation


“I think this group of songs and these bands we picked needed to be highlighted as early influences, a big part of the band, and songs that we liked, too.”

And it doesn’t get much simpler than that when Prong founder/vocalist/guitarist Tommy Victor is asked about the collection of songs that comprise their recent covers release, Songs From The Black Hole (Out now through eOne Music). When asked where the idea came from, Victor continues:

“It was by accident that we decided to do it. We had a week off during festival season last year in Europe and we wanted to use that time in order to do something productive whether it be writing new material or something. My manager came up with the idea and I thought it’d be a lot of work but I was intrigued by it. I started asking people what songs we should do….old friends back in New York and the guys in the band. Jason (Christopher,bass) came up with a list and I said ‘Well, this is gonna be interesting!'”

One of the things that I mentioned in our review of the record (Check it out here) was not only the diversity of artists but the diversity in song selection which Victor elaborated on:

“In the case of the Killing Joke song specifically (“Seeing Red”), “The Wait” has been covered, and “Requiem”, “Wardance”…y’know I was there when those records came out! We wanted to do a song that had Raven on it (Who played in Prong and is no longer on this planet) and we liked the idea that that Killing Joke record was sort of a comeback record where they sort of disappeared for a while and came back. I thought that was sort of the same thing that happened with Prong where we hadn’t been around for a while and then we came back with a strong record and the fact that song is so strong and one of my favorite Killing Joke songs. It’s a combination of songs that we liked and that we thought we could develop a little bit more like the Butthole Surfers song (“Goofy’s Concern”) where we added a modern hardcore breakdown to it and my connection with Ministry inspired the heavy double picking guitar. There’s liner notes in the CD packaging and the vinyl where I try my best to describe the process a little bit and the thought behind the song selections.”

With the release of the album comes the inevitable bout of touring with European shows already announced and a North American headlining run slated for the Fall. If you’re hoping to hear a cover or two in the new set then you’re in luck:

“Yeah, we’re working on them right now and they’re sounding really good which I’m pretty happy about. I’ve never been a guy that plays covers. L.A. is a big covers place where all sorts of guys from famous bands get together and do these sets and I’ve sort of been an outsider on the whole thing so now I’m coming out with a covers record, singing and playing covers, and it’s kind of a weird thing for us. I’m pretty pleased I was able to pull it off singing and playing other people’s material.”

Speaking of touring, especially with another relatively new line up, Victor talked about the secret to getting new talent up to speed before recording/touring and essentially finding the right person for the job:
“In the past, I sort of relied on word of mouth and friends…(laughs) and that doesn’t really work out that much. In the drumming department, we’ve had auditions and things of that nature and people submitting videos which seems to be the modern way of auditioning these days. The bass player issue with Prong is always a thing. Y’know, I just ask around! I always get lucky and that’s one of the reasons that keeps me going, too, is because I always seem to have these guys that inspire me and keep me going ahead and these guys just fall into my life and keep this thing going. That’s why I always say Prong isn’t over because I’m able to find guys that come out of nowhere and are excellent. You can ask anybody who’s seen the band in recent years, and I’m not just saying this, but this line up is the best ever. These guys are great.”

“They’re really professional and know what they’re doing. You always get in a band and there’s one guy that you’re like ‘Oh my God, is he gonna be able to cut it?’ and I’ve been through that but in this case, that doesn’t exist.”

Switching gears to other projects, it was recently confirmed that Victor will once again be providing guitars for the upcoming Danzig album but when pressed for details of what fans were in for, even he had trouble describing it:

“It’s hard to say and he would probably laugh if I saw him, too, because we’ve sort of been working on three records at the same time! There’s two covers records and the Danzig record and Glenn is very spontaneous and you don’t even know when you go into the studio what you’re going to be working on. He throws curveballs all the time. Being in and out of the studio with him sometimes I can’t remember that much because we’re all over the place all of the time. He produces the records and he writes the songs and he has his designs of how to do things. I pretty much just go in and listen to him and do what he wants me to do. My involvement is simply that and I don’t really have any participation beyond that. It’s an interesting process, that’s for sure.”

But that’s not the only thing Victor has in the pipeline:

“I have another project that I’m auditioning for and it’s along the lines of Primitive Race.” Primitive Race, of course, being the the industrial brainchild of Chris Kniker who recently announced the release date of their highly anticipated debut EP (Long In The Tooth, out through Metropolis Records on June 5th) with a full-length to be released soon after of which Victor has been confirmed to be involved in. “I really got into this whole Primitive Race thing. It’s like ‘guerilla recording’ and Erie Loche who’s one of the main programmers of the whole thing sort of coined that. The process being, in modern day you do these things and it’s no news to anybody but it’s purely industrial from that term because you just get files and then they’re exchanged. That’s another thing that I find challenging because for the most part in my career, with Prong, I write the music and sort of have some sort of idea what I’m going to do with the vocals. So when somebody presents me with something to put a vocal on then this is even more of a challenge because I didn’t write the music so I’m going to have to step it up or come up with something that is going to meet their standards and that’s always a mystery in a lot of ways. And these are guys that I hadn’t spoke to. I was getting files from Marc Thwaite (guitar, programming, bass) and the whole concept was I didn’t talk to him and he didn’t tell me what he wanted me to do so I just did what I thought would be cool. That’s an interesting way to make a record and I don’t think it’s unusual these days. I’m pretty happy with what I came up with and I definitely like the music alot. I think there’s some really killer stuff on it. It’s pretty pounding.”

Getting back to Songs From The Black Hole, Victor sums up why fans should check out the album:

“Well, the performances are just blistering. Considering there’s like two basic rhythm guitar tracks on it I’m really pleased with the guitar performances AND the vocal performances and Art and Jason killed it, too. We were in such really good form because we were touring so much last year. As a band we were really extremely tight and this really shows that. I mean, the playing is just out of control. We already had a hundred shows under our belt and we had that chemistry enabling us to go in and cut some covers knowing the Prong element and the Prong format of things and then bringing that into arrangements of others material is a remarkable thing and the record definitely shows that. Y’know it’s a fun record, too. Prong isn’t really know as a ‘fun’ band in many ways and that’s not completely to my design a lot of the times. Lyrically, Prong’s pretty dark. My interpretations of other peoples vocals could be a little bit more enjoyable than the Prong records so it adds a new element to the band.”

Songs From The Black Hole is available now through eOne Music and available instantly through Itunes or a variety of formats on Amazon (My vinyl just came yesterday!). For the latest on Prong, follow them on Twitter and Facebook.


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