Anthony Morgan of Metal Forces recently conducted an interview with PRONG vocalist/guitarist Tommy Victor. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow below.
On working with producer Steve Evetts:
Tommy: “He was really proactive in all aspects of it, including helping a little bit with arrangements. We wanted a guy that was gonna be really in tune with the vocals too. I’ve pretty much been producing myself vocally for all these years, and I didn’t really have anybody pushing me in a certain way. This record has a lot more focus on vocals, guitar playing, and all other aspects too like getting everything designed, and thinking out precisely things that we wanted to do.
“As you get older, I guess you start getting stuck in certain ways and certain bad habits whether vocally or guitar playing wise. Steve was a bit of a disciplinarian in there, something that we needed in order to get a better record than we had put out previously. He’s worked a lot with Alexei [Rodriguez] on his drum parts, and the sounds, too. We just tried out a whole bunch of stuff and agreed upon what amps to use, whereas in the past, working with Terry Date, he’d be like, ‘Is this your guitar rig? Okay, fine. Let’s just use that.’ We didn’t really try anything with Terry, and he didn’t really interfere… That’s a bad choice of words, but he didn’t have anything to do with the vocals, really. He had me do what I did and that was it, but there was a very big difference on this one.”
On bassist Tony Campos (SOULFLY, MINISTRY, STATIC-X) and drummer Alexei Rodriguez (3 INCHES OF BLOOD, WALLS OF JERICHO):
Tommy: “With the last record and touring cycle, we had Aaron Rossi. He wasn’t able to tour with us, but we had a tour booked. We were ready to cancel the tour. We had a couple of other guys that wanted to do it that we were rehearsing with, but they weren’t working out. A friend of mine then said, ‘What about Alexei?’ I didn’t know whether he would be able to do it, but I knew of him. He was basically there for the tour at first, and the same thing with Tony. We needed somebody we could go on tour with, so inevitably we started working together.
“They just play great, and are super professional. They just do a really great job. There’s nothing more you can say about it — absolutely fantastic. There’s no limitations with what you can do with somebody like Alexei playing drums. You never fear anything; if I write a really fast song, I’m not worried if somebody is gonna be able to cut it. With guys in the past, we really had to work around everyone’s limitations. If anything now we have to work around my limitations, because there are a lot of things that I definitely can’t do on guitar and vocals as well. I just do what I do.”
On playing guitar and singing:
Tommy: “As far as playing the songs, you’re doing two things at once and then soloing on top of it. It’s pretty obvious that there’s gonna be certain restrictions, unless you’re a complete magician. As far as technique, I’ve learnt as I’ve gone along. I wasn’t even really seriously playing that much when PRONG started. The truth of the matter is I certainly fell into the whole thing. Before ‘Primitive Origins’ (1987), I had never played a guitar solo in my life; that was just learnt on the spot, and I wasn’t even really playing guitar that much before that anyhow. I sang in a couple of cover bands as a bass player, and was really horrible, terrible. I never sang in a band before, really. It wasn’t like when I was eight-years-old I said, ‘I’m gonna be a rock star,’ was learning to play guitar, and had a teacher for years, a vocal instructor, or any of that stuff. That wasn’t the case at all. It’s not like kids today where their parents want them to be a rock star, and they’ve had lessons or what have you since they were little kids. That’s what I’ve gotta compete against in a couple of ways, people that have had a lot more instruction and support. I’m limited (laughs).”
On the song “State Of Rebellion”:
Tommy: “‘State Of Rebellion’ is about the fact I don’t get involved in political discussions anymore with people. I’ve been there and it doesn’t really help anything. It’s almost in that realm where I numb myself and walk the fence a little bit, which isn’t a good thing. I started to numb myself from any kind of arguments or controversy. Of course, when you’re young and you’re more brash, you’re quick to get into arguments a lot more. Later on you start to realize that it’s not really worth the trouble, and for your own sanity. There are other things that I’d rather spend my energy on, which is taking it easy really. It’s just a matter of priorities, but yeah. It’s not that I don’t have strong opinions on things; it’s just that I don’t think it’s necessary to try to convert anybody, or even express myself that much. It doesn’t take precedent over other things in my life anymore.”
On his older brother:
Tommy: “He’s at the other end of the spectrum — he’s very Republican. He starts ranting, and I don’t even respond to it. I don’t even say anything. I go, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s fine. Whatever.’ But years ago I would get into arguments with him. I’d be like, ‘Shut the fuck up. You don’t know what you’re talking about’, and it’s just pointless. I’d rather maintain the relationship than get into these battles with him.”
Read the entire interview from Metal Forces.