Prong interview

Originally published in ‘zine issue #1, 1991

I went to Washington, D.C. in July of 1990 to talk to Ted Parsons on drums and Tommy Victor on guitars and vocals of the New York band Prong. We did an interview before the band went on stage at the Bayou for Beg to Differ.

D.U.: Prong was more hardcore on Force Fed, the first album, wasn’t it? When I listen to Beg to Differ, the band I think of is Leeway.

Tommy: Really? I think we took a little bit from Leeway here and there. I mean, we’re surrounded by a lot of New York hardcore-like bands copying one another. But we’re not just strictly that. We do a lotta noise and there’s a lotta atonality in our stuff too, with just regular rock songs too. So I think that we still have, like, a hardcore attitude. It’s pretty much from that same gut level.

I think it’s a lot better than your average hardcore, what we do, y’know? A lot of hardcore bands rely on core technique, and we just don’t do that. We combine elements of a lot of different stuff, like the last 15 years of rock up till now.

You were called industrial more than once.

Tommy: I’d call it post-industrial. When we started out, we went through the industrial period. We came from the Lower East Side, and a lot of bands with that style were coming outta there. And I think we can be associated somewhat with the industrial scene, but again, we’re not aligned to any of those groups, industrial, hardcore, or metal, you know? We’re just using every form in order to make what Prong is the best we could do.

“I don’t think anybody should be forced to do anything.”

What do you think of Headbangers Ball on MTV?

Tommy: I don’t know what they’re trying to do. I think if they’re gonna do Headbangers, they should be more concentrating on real metal. They shouldn’t play groups that’re played on during the day. ‘Cause groups on Headbangers can’t get played during the day, so why waste that time? If you wanna see Faith No More, you can see them on during the day. You don’t haveta see them at night too, not on Headbangers. So that’s how I feel about it.

It’s the only outlet for bands. You gotta go to Europe and see what they have over there. On video shows, everything is disco and R&B. So I think we’re lucky. I mean, Americans are spoiled. I think we’re a lot more freer in the airwaves, TV, than anyplace else in the world. Going on two big European tours, I can stand up for that.

Do you ever feel that there’s no point in putting a rhythm track down for a lead track in the studio, because you can’t reproduce it live on tour anyway?

Tommy: I understand that. It’s a good point. However, my producer and I felt—we co-produced the record—don’t worry about the live show, do what you’re doing here. Look at Zeppelin, man, I mean, like, there’s tons of Zeppelin songs that are so layered with different guitar parts. But what did they do live? Live show is the songs in a different context. It’s brute force. Use what you got in the studio, and then when you’re playing live, people get the whole thing just on the more raw edge. And no one’s ever complained about Prong. Most people have said that we sound a lot better live than we have in the studio, so that’s the general consensus. I don’t agree that much. [laughs] I think we’re sloppy a lot of times. But people love it, y’know? I mean, live, they don’t feel there’s anything lacking there.

Photo of Prong

Do you feel that since you have an audience, you should give it a positive message?

Tommy: A lot of our songs are just like verbal gripes. We just wanna be truthful to ourselves and, uh, confront different issues from a personal standpoint. And we don’t wanna be aligned to any environmentalist group or any type of straight edge movement or any type of death scene. I mean, we’re not that kind of people. If anything, some of our songs are, like, anthems of being individual and not going with the norm and speaking your own mind and being aware of what’s going on around you and just, you know, avoiding peer pressure. A lot of stuff is sorta like just trying to uphold some sort of freedom of speech. I mean, I don’t think anybody should be forced to do anything.

Do any of the more hardcore people give you trouble because they think you’re trendy since you use Pushead for your cover?

Tommy: Oh, sure. Yeah, probably the more hardcore following do define that a more commercial attempt, but it’s not really true.

Ted: If anything, Pushead comes from the underground, not the mainstream. People associate him with the mainstream because of Metallica, and that shows how fuckin’ stupid people are. I mean, I’ve been a fan of his artwork for years, before [the] Metallica [thing].

What did he do before the Misfits?

Ted: He did C.O.C., he did skate stuff. He’s been around for, like, 10 years.

Tommy: How we first contacted him was, we sent him our very first demo [through the Thrasher column] and he’s been writing back to me ever since then. We met him in New York. He said, “I wanna do your next cover.” So that’s before the artwork to the Metallica Damage, Inc. [tour]. We didn’t even know he was really doing Metallica [at the time]. But of course, people don’t believe that. They think we’re just bullshitting, but that’s the real truth of the matter.

Some clubs don’t let you dive or mosh or anything. Do you agree with that?

Ted: No, not at all. We like people getting into it. I mean, [but if] people’re tripping all over the shit on stage, we can’t handle it.

Tommy: We don’t mind it that much. Some kids just go on the edge of the stage and they jump right off. Other people wanna sit down there, they wanna, like—

Have a cup of tea.

Tommy: Exactly. And that gets outta hand. But there’s different kinds of people.

Is there anything you want to add at the end?

Tommy: Well, come down to the shows, have fun, you know, that’s pretty much what it’s all about in the end. We’re not trying to, like, change people. That’s one thing that I hate, is bands that wanna change people’s opinions and lean people towards different directions. We’re just not into that. I mean, if you wanna be spoken down to, you might as well go to church. So basically, let loose, have a good time, let off some steam.

Bassist Mike Kirkland has since been replaced by Trey Gregory from Flotsam And Jetsam, and the new Prong album should be out around September.

Photo: Prong (courtesy Epic)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.