CBGB's was THE venue of an era; an embodiment of what it meant to be in a band, striving for everything you got. In many ways the birthplace of American Punk and the No Wave movement, one can say the music created there was -at its very essence -- a revolutionary influence, and its corrosive nature has infected millions of people through the years. One in particular, a soundman on the staff, was tainted by the experience, changing him into an iconic corner stone of metal; I am, of course, referring to Prong's very own Tommy Victor.
Tommy VictorDissonant, dark, detached -and at times rather deranged --Tommy Victor, founder and frontman of Prong, always swings his riffs low, hard and squarely at your skull. Victor never did 'happiness' and Prong didn't necessarily give a shit about making the 'feel good album of the year'. For Victor, high-praise is best served in the packed clubs and sweaty mosh-pits he plays in around the world. This is all the proof he needs of a dedicated fan base which never misses the band's shows, and loyally buys albums while 'critics' consistently miss the boat. Every time Prong was ignored by the mainstream -whilst revered through the underground --or ripped off by lesser, spineless musicians who don't have a creative pot of their own to piss in - Prong just got harder, stronger and more pissed off. It fuelled them even more, and drove them even further. This is not your parent's band; this is brutality with no regrets amplified, distorted, and turned up to 11.
With its roots deeply set in the fertile soil acts like Die Kreuzen, Bad Brains, Killing Joke, The Swans, and Live Skull, Prong has grown into a force of nature. Their first releases on renowned indie punk/alternative label Southern Records (Spigot in the US), were 'Primitive Origins' and 'Force Fed'. From those early moments, to the present, Prong has demonstrated the perfection that it strives for time and again. By taking traditional rock song-structures, merging them with simple steel bar riffs, atonalism, art-rock atmospheres, they've culminated a crushing sound that pleases your ears as it liquefies your brain. It's no surprise that Prong gained popularity rapidly, leading Epic Records to come sniffing in 1989. Like fans all over the world, Epic recognized the power and force of Prong's irreverent sound, and snapped the band up. But true to form, Prong didn't conform to an easily swallowed corporate sound. Prong's sixth album, 'Rude Awakening' was released in 1996. It pummeled the charts at #74, sold 10,000 units in America in one week, and added another major notch in the band's belt. Then, Epic Records decided Prong wasn't selling enough records and cut their contract 3 weeks later.
Tommy VictorFrom 1996 to 2002, Prong took a hiatus and Victor played with the likes of Rob Zombie and Glenn Danzig before re-surfacing in 2002. Then he met Monte Pittman (fresh off the bus from Texas) via White Zombie drummer Ivan De Prume, and the two clicked perfectly. Pittman went on to land the guitar slot in Madonna's band, a position he still holds, as well as playing bass in Prong. After '02, Tommy hooked up with Ministry's leader -and 13th Planet Records label boss --Al Jourgensen. Recognizing a kindred itinerant spirit, Jourgensen was delighted to sign Prong to his indie imprint, 13th Planet Records. How does Al show ya he loves your music? Well, for Prong, he threw open the doors to Sonic Ranch Studios, and Jourgensen's own 13th Planet Studios, in El Paso, TX. Recognizing the importance of their independence, Al didn't produce the album. Instead, he left it in the capable hands of Tommy and associate producer Monte Pittman. However, Al being Al, did leave his fingerprints on the album; lending a hand by mixing "The Banishment". With Pittman switching over to bass guitar, and drummer Aaron Rossi joining up, Prong was suddenly locked into a murderous bottom end pulse that drove them back into full overdrive. 2007 marked the release of Power of The Damager, Prong's best album in a long career, and the perfect album for a new era of Prong. A marriage of anger and determination, PoTD is a Grade-A steel toe to the jaw; -a skull-splitting barrage of metal mayhem and mastery in its truest form. In fact, Jourgensen states "...Tommy is back with his best record ever..." and he ain't lying. The true power of this album is that it's real. No silly contrived bullshit here; it's genuine and raw, just like the men behind it. Every track on Power of The Damager is a chapter in the lives of Prong's members, and you can hear how much they've suffered for these songs in every note.
As Victor and Prong set about for a 30-city European tour, 13th Planet Records releases Power of The Damn MiXXXer on May 12th, 2009 - a brutally orchestrated remix album that's guaranteed to kick your ass again -only harder. Prong is a refreshingly feral fist-fuck in an era of mediocrity. Artists ranging from Rob Caggiano (Anthrax), Virus (Dope), DJ? Acucrack, to Professional Murder Music pay homage to Tommy V. with their own balls to the wall treatments of 'Damager'. For guys like Virus and PMM's Brian Harrah, Victor is a true pioneer and tastemaker that never bent or broke to label pressure or poseurs striving for fame. Brian Harrah offers, "Prong has always been one of those bands that no matter what album or song you hear, you always know it's them. They have their own identity because of it. There's integrity and respect for a band like that in a music world that tends to be filled with fakes." Not to be left out Virus echoes, "I was psyched that I had the opportunity to do a remix for Prong. It was pretty intense, and an honor, to have worked on this pioneering band's music, especially knowing the influence it has had on Dope, and many others."
Upon Prong's return from Europe late summer, the band returns to Jourgensen's compound to record the next chapter in the Prong legacy, this time with Jourgensen planted firmly in the producer's seat, which is scheduled to see the light of day early 2010.
With Prong, what you hear is what you get. No extras, no bullshit. Just pure and undiluted brutal fucking metal drilling itself into your mind, and scarring you for life. Got it?