Tommy Victor - Prong

April 28, 2004

You have a new CD out.

Yeah, this is a real record. Not like the other one. This is brand new material.

Tell us a bit about Scorpio Rising.

It's material I've written over the last few years. It's the first record that we've done in a while. I think the material's really good. It's on an indie label so I thought I would take a couple more chances and I'm pretty happy with it.

You're on Locomotive Music. Were you signed to them when you did the live record?

Yeah, that's the deal we've got. I think we've got to do another record with them too so we're working on that right now. We're starting a tour. We're leaving tomorrow morning and we'll be out there in Dallas at Trees the 27th of May with All That Remains, Dog Fashion Disco, and Beyond The Embrace.

Do you have the same band that you had on the last record?

It's the same guys. It's just that Monte's playing with Madonna so he can't do this tour. We have Aaron Slip from Rorschach Test filling in.

Monte must be a pretty versatile guy to go from playing with Madonna to playing heavy rock.

Prong is more challenging to him and Madonna's material is pretty easy to play. It's definitely precise. Some of it's finger picking and she's doing a lot of acoustic stuff. He's very versatile. He's a local guy. He's from Dallas. Texas produces major guitar players. It's not like New York where we're all sloppy hacks.

Your new music is similar to Rude Awakening?

No, I think it's a combination of everything. I don't think any record was ignored in compiling this one. It has a lot of aspects into it. It's sort of a response to Rude Awakening. We left the electronic stuff out. The tuning is different on the guitars. It has a whole different sound to it. I think that there's a tie in there with the last one. Some people would say it's like a new Cleansing. It's hard for me to really make a complete diagnosis of what it is but it's definitely a Prong where there are certain boundaries that have to be committed to when putting it under the Prong moniker. Some stuff is a little dark and we take some chances on it. There's some definite songs and heavy stuff too.

Sometimes the best records are the ones you take chances on.

Yeah, we have the opportunity to do that now. With Epic everything was pretty much we were under the watchdog of A&R people, producers, and managers a lot more. I'm not saying that we compromised on any of the early Prong records neither. This one we didn't have to really submit any demos. Most of the stuff was demoed up and then toned down before we went in and did it really fast.

I think when you have to deal with A&R people, they're more worried about what they think will sell and I think that compromises creativity somewhat.

Exactly, yeah. We didn't actually fall for that pressure too much. It was just impossible for me to do. I go in and I'm going to write a record that's going to be played on the radio. I don't have it in me. Some guys do it and they do it great. I wasn't able to do that.

It's rather hard to get stuff on the radio these days.

It is. In this genre and period I guess. I think most radio seems to be oldies really. Even with so called alternative stations you hear a lot of old Green Day and Nirvana primarily.

I guess some of the complaints I have with some of the classic stations is that I love hearing the old stuff but I think it would be awesome if they acknowledged that these older bands have new releases. Play some of the new stuff as well as the old stuff.

Yeah, that's interesting. You know how people are though. People want to hear "Dreams" from Fleetwood Mac. I don't think I've heard any of the new Fleetwood Mac on the radio. I think it's that whole general attitude that goes into all genres really. It's definitely hard to promote a new album when you've established yourself doing something else. Everything's a challenge and you just do your best and see what happens.

What was the inspiration behind Scorpio Rising?

I was in this dark hole for a while and emerging out of that, I had a lot of reflections and coping methods that I applied to lyrics. I did a lot of reading and that I applied to a lot of the lyrics that are on the album. It's pretty in depth. I've hinged on a couple of cult topics as well as some influence by the Bible which I had to read in order to understand some of the cult concepts. I try to be a sponge in that process. How it comes out, that's really up to the forces that be. You have to be a filter somewhat when you're writing lyrics and writing songs. You have to trust your instincts and trust the process a little bit which I think we did a lot more on this record. I've learned to do more and escape being contrived about certain things. Again that adds to the earlier response of certain controversies that apply when you're working with a producer. This is pretty much self-produced and a lot of the formulas have been diminished I think.

You guys are leaving tomorrow morning. I guess your first show is in Sacramento, CA. How long are you guys going to be out on the road?

It looks like seven weeks. We'll be in the van and just busting it and trying to keep this thing alive out there. It should prove interesting, let's put it that way. It's a decent drive, that's for sure. Back to the old days. It's getting out there and doing it and enjoying the moment. Trying to appreciate what you have really and making the best of a situation which is always a challenge. Again to answer your question about Scorpio Rising, it has a lot to do with that. It's that renewed application in my own head is appreciation of your whole method of operation. You can't compare yourself to anybody else. You just got to do your best and try to make the best out of what you do. You're the only you're going to please in the end anyhow. If you're looking for the approval of others, it's never going to happen.

It's more important for you to be true to yourself and meet your own expectations. Other people's approval isn't even remotely important. It all comes down to what you think of yourself.

Yeah, you just got to try hard. You devote a certain amount of time and a certain amount of sacrifices so it balances too. Being a musician is almost a 24 hour a day affair. I've learned to balance out a certain amount of things. If you're looking for glory or pleasure all the time, not how I go about things in order to make myself happy or feel like I'm contributing the most I can. Everyone's got their own different agenda and I can accept that. Whether they accept what I do or not, I just have to be trusting in my own makeup.

The last time we talked, you talked about going through some dark moments. You seem to be more calmer.

You've got to utilize those moments. In retrospect that's a part again of the Scorpio Rising concept. I think subconsciously we put ourselves in certain experiences in order to learn something or get to the next level. The constant emptiness of "ah, I'm going to have a good time" is not enough for someone like me in order to get off my ass and do something. There's got to be certain challenges. No one else is going to respect that really and you can't expect anybody to. I've come to realize that much. I have my own outlet which is either playing guitar or writing songs or singing. I should be thankful for that.

That's kind of a catharsis.

Nah, I don't look for those cathartic moments. When they do happen I distrust them because they're temporal. That's the same approach I have to take to the disappointments. Tomorrow's another day or I'll get another shot. A lot of musicians when you come out of the box, you think that all of the glorifying moments are going to be consistent and this is not life.

Are Dog Fashion Disco, All That Remains, and Beyond The Embrace going to be on the whole tour?

I believe so. I think if we go into June, Dog Fashion Disco is leaving and somebody else may be taking their place. I don't know yet. I'm glad we got all these guys on there. It should be pretty cool.

Heavy bands that differ from each other.

Yeah, that's for sure. Progressive thrash bands mixed with who the hell knows what Prong is and Dog Fashion Disco.

You're starting in California and ending in California. What's next?

Actually I don't know if we're going to end in California yet or if we're going to push that ahead. We're going to see how it goes. We may add a couple of more weeks on to it. We'll have to see what happens. I also have a commitment. I'm playing guitar with Danzig too so I got to do that.

You're on his CD, Circle Of Snakes.

I was working with him before from '97 to '98 and I did several tours with him. Then I decided to pursue other things. Then he called me up and I've been working with him for over the last year on and off. Inevitably we did the record and there's a tour lined up. I'm trying to double duty right now. That's a goal of mine, to be busy and to try to do as much as I can. That's pretty important for a certain amount of growth. I'm untrained so it's different when each little thing you do, you may not see it at that moment but it may give you some insights into something else or possibly there's some progression in that. Whether it's a nightmarish experience or not, at least you're active and somewhat productive. Otherwise you're sitting around thinking all the time which I don't think is very healthy.

Especially if they're negative thoughts all the time.

I think most people in this day and age if they're thinking, it's mostly fear oriented. That's why people can't fall asleep at night. The anxiety really takes precedence unless you're on another plane and you're contemplating God 24 hours a day. I don't know if anybody is able to do that.

I'm sure there are fundamentalist freaks who do that. If you get too obsessed with anything, whether it's religion or politics or whatever, it's dangerous.

Absolutely, yeah. That's what I mean about balance. Certain responsibilities have to be taken care of yet it's important for me to have a certain amount of time alone and I think beneath that on the priority list is actual leisure time that doesn't really take precedence over anything. You have to allow a certain amount of that.

It's been four years between studio albums.

Longer than that. It took a while for me to get off my ass. That's what I mean. I think sometimes it's important to do that. After making seven records and being under that constant schedule of doing that, it's not that it got tiresome but there needed to be a little bit of a break as well to decide whether it was important to go ahead. On that basis, anything takes really that much importance. If I could do it really. I was able to do it so that's what happens. It's pretty simplistic. It just takes a certain amount of effort. Then collecting the material a couple years ago was difficult at times but over a period of time you're able to have a large selection of material to pick from and release on a record. The thing I've learned is that you have to continually write. Sometimes it gets difficult when you're touring. Then it's "oh my gosh, we've got two months to write a record" and do it. That didn't occur with this record which was important for me to be able to actually pen lyrics and come up with songs in order for all three of us to put something out that's somewhat decent.

You're already writing for the next record.

I'm working on stuff, yeah. Here and there, as much as I can aside from rehearsals and collecting some ideas and listening to records. That is your vocabulary. You have to have something to spark some interest here and there on certain ideas. I mean other stuff can come directly from the other but here and there I'll throw in an old record. That's part of the writing process as well as getting some more information here and there. There's a certain amount of research that has to be done.

You've worked on your record and you've worked on Danzig's record and you're going on tour. Anything else on your plate?

Yeah, with a friend of mine I'm doing something on the side whenever I can. Klay Scott from Celldweller and I collaborated on some stuff a long time ago and one of the songs made it on Rude Awakening. "Embrace Of Death" on the new record was written with Pat Lachman, the singer from Damage Plan. Here and there if I can grab another guy and collaborate with him in order to see if a song or two makes it on a Prong record is not a bad idea. If somebody shows interest in getting together and doing something, a lot of times I'm not too aggressive in pursuing people but when I'm approached I'm usually open to it.

Any European tours?

That's always in the making somewhat. I know Danzig is doing some shows in Eastern Europe and then Prong was scheduled to do some shows as well. Throughout the year we'll be jumping over there every once in a while. We were in Europe last summer and that was pretty successful. I think we can still go over there and do some shows.

Any other thoughts or comments?

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