Over three decades after former CBGB soundman Tommy Victor created Prong, the band that hit the scene like a sonic throat punch, the trio continues to prove its creative relevance. This month, guitarist/vocalist Victor, along with drummer Art Cruz and bassist Mike Longworth, release their twelfth studio album, Zero Days. The recording finds the band’ tapping into its various eras to create an album that resonates with all the elements of punk, thrash, hardcore, and groove metal that are the hallmarks of the Prong sound.
Since the release of the band’s 1989 debut, Force Fed, Prong has shifted from its primal hardcore/punk roots to a more groove-based crossover thrash style. As the band enters its fourth decade, Victor and Prong are in the midst of the most prolific period of creative output in the band’s 30 year history, releasing five studio albums since 2012.
“I had to make amends for the periods where there weren’t any Prong records coming out and I was devoting to much of my time to other projects,” Victor shared with Metalholic. “I needed to prove to myself and maybe to the fans that Prong can put out a consistent run of records that were of fairly good quality. I’m making amends to years of inactivity.” In that same stretch of time, Victor has also released two studio albums as the guitarist for Danzig as well.
Prong gave fans what they needed in 2016 with its tenth studio album of new material, X (No Absolutes). Victor hailed that record as sort of a modern visitation of its 1994 album, Cleansing. With Zero Days, the band once again worked with producer Chris Collier on a goal of pushing the Prong even farther than ever before.
“I think the vocals have gotten better and better and that’s indicative on the new record,” Victor offers of Zero Days. “I spent a lot more time on the lyrics. They had to be to be perfect on this one. That’s really where I’ve been moving with the Prong experience. That’s become the centerpiece of my interest; the lyrics and the vocals. Finding riffs is very difficult. That is probably the less enjoyable aspect of making the record because everything’s been done already. These guitar players and kids today are so amazing and outstanding it’s like, how do you compete with that? So finding that is difficult. I think we did a good job, but the pressure to write really good songs every record is of more strategic importance here because I think that where veterans can somehow stand alone because you know how to write songs. You’ve done it in the past. The kids might be able to destroy you on their instruments these days, but to write a good ole rock and roll song, that’s something we may be able to do better than them. That’s what we have to focus on.”
Every album a band puts out is a risk. The artist shares their art and exposes their vulnerability to the masses. It is often hard to look at one’s own work objectively.
“I was afraid to listen to it,” Victor says of the period after recording Zero Days. “After I finished it, we went right out on the Testament tour. I didn’t listen to it during that whole tour until the label wanted to start thinking about a single. I was like, maybe this record sucks and I’m not gonna like it, so I was fearful of listening to it. Then finally I got around to it, and we got the job done. I know I put all the time into it and we worked our butts off. That’s really all anybody can do in life. If you don’t feel like you didn’t put enough time into something, then that’s where the doubts come in. In the end, I couldn’t have worked any harder on it. There’s no way. So at least I know that, and let the chips fall where they may.”
Prong just released a video for the track “Divide and Conquer” which showcases a new aspect of the band’s sound.
“That’s one of Chris Collier’s babies,” reveals Victor. “He came up with this riff, and I was like, ‘That riff is really cool, but I have a problem with the chorus.’ It was so undeniably hooky, that I was afraid of that song. The right lyric had to be in there to make that happen, and that was one of the ones that was keeping me up until four in the morning. There’s not that many lyrics in it, but what is said in that little period had to be of some kind of impact. It was important to get that song done. I’m surprised at the response from it. I thought that we were going to get blasted for it, but I felt that it was somewhat relative to Killing Joke, and if that happens with a song, then I’m happy.”
You can listen to the full interview with Tommy Victor in the video below as he talks more in depth about the new album and takes a look back at the band’s sophomore record, Beg to Differ. Zero Days releases on July 28 through SPV/Steamhammer Records.