PRONG Mainman Discusses 'Power Of The Damager'

Alex Zander of MK magazine recently conducted an interview with PRONG mainman Tommy Victor. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

MK: How did [Monte Pittman, guitar] come into the whole picture? How did you cross paths with someone like Monte Pitman?

Victor: Actually it was through Ivan de Prume who initially and briefly was the replacement for Ted Parsons. He had a mutual friend over at Guitar Center. He said, "You know there is this kid who came from Texas. I got to jam with him and he knows all of the PRONG songs and he wants to get in touch with you because he wants to get some gear off of you. He is a huge PRONG fan." So I give him my number, I call him and tell him to come over. He was already in shock when he met me. I was living just as sparsely as I am now, in this bare apartment in Tarzana. This, like, one-room nothing apartment. He was like, this is where you live? This is where Tommy Victor lives? I'm like, "Yeah, dude, I never made any money. That is why I'm selling my gear." Eventually we talked. I said, "You know what? I have been thinking about adding another guitar player because there is so much on me all the time." Eventually we started jamming, but soon after that what we call "the charmed Monte" from working at Guitar Center started giving lessons to MADONNA and winded up being in her band. So he was in and out. There are certain guys that are completely dedicated to music, guitar playing and are aficionados and are discophiles, and he is one of them. There are not that many guys out there as far as guitar players go. You get the guys that sit around eight hours a day and practice arpeggios and are totally disinterested and don't want to have anything to do with "those type of so-called musicians." These guys can play a STEELY DAN song and then play some country, western like HANK WILLIAMS day and play PRONG as just good as I can. We developed a relationship on that level of respect. Songwriting and contributions, His knowledge of PRONG and he knows the lyrics and songs probably better than me at times. He's a good guy to have around. It has been unfortunate that because of scheduling we haven't been able to solidify our relationship in a lot of ways throughout the years. That is part of the crisis the keeps PRONG for making records on a regular basis. However this period of downtime on MADONNA and downtime on MINISTRY and in Aaron Rossi's case down time on Encore so we were able to come together and collaborate to do the new, "Power of the Damager", record.

MK: "Scorpio Rising", a lot of people call that an angry record, but everybody is calling the new record a brutal record. Why do you think they use the word brutal so much?

Victor: I think I felt a lot of the subject involved in the lyrical content a little bit more than on "Scorpio". "Scorpio" has almost a fluffy format. From the cover, it was almost bordering into mysticism and a little more, heady. This one is more common topics and just a general disgust and nihilism overall and there is a little bit more of a snarl to this than the other record. A lot of those projections musically, come across with the tunings. We experimented with a different tuning on "Scorpio" and looking back that was a huge mistake. This one we went back to the cleansing tuning of "C" on most of the material. I think my vocal range presents its self a little better on that and is a bit more biting. That's on a sonic note but as far as topical I always discuss that guitar playing I just up the dose the reason why I was able to do that is with the addition of Aaron who could really respond to some of the faster ideas. We just decided to pump up the BPM on this record and that give a lot more intense feel to it.

MK: 13th Planet [MINISTRY mainman Al Jourgensen's record label], how good of a fit is that for PRONG? As compared to well, no comparison when it comes to someone like Locomotive. What is the benefit of being on 13th Planet for you?

Victor: That remains to be seen, I'm not saying that as any knock to Angie and Al Jourgenson. I'm a very cautious person about putting stamps on things and having definitive notions on what the whole experience is yet. You know, this is really a bad time for records, record companies, relationships with people in the music business, and the options are diminishing especially for older acts. I think a lot of the noted labels that focus on this type of music pull their talents form kids that still live at home with their parents. They have some kind of family support or something. Yeah, Sonny, I'll go ahead and buy you some kind of trailer or van. Go ahead and have your rock thing and then go back to college, kind of vibe. Were as guys that have been plugging along and have been doing it as a career for many years are finding more and more difficult to find their place in the business. That is where Al and I come together where a lot of his views and his experiences parallel mine. The label is build around that vibe that is why Burton Bell [FEAR FACTORY] is doing a record with Al and Raven as well. So the guys that have been around the block Al respects that more, knows the pitfalls and aggravations, his experience with Sanctuary, for instance, where younger bands that he didn't feel deserved it were getting more attention than MINISTRY was. That disturbed him or hurt his pride. I totally understand that and I think that is covered with 13th Planet with PRONG I get that total respect from them. They are very good cheerleaders. The sentiment is in the right place. Whether the tools are there that remains to be seen. Everything is on a really strict budget.

MK: Exactly, It's pretty sad when a lot of people are skipping doing PR and just putting their shit out on MySpace.

Victor: Yeah, it's crazy out there it's unfortunate too. I'm on a survivalist level and I try to make that a point to most people. I'm just skin and bones here and that is what I've been doing. In old-school depression era terms starving artist was heralded. That is almost a forgotten term these days. You are almost looked down upon on that. Now they are like, so how much money is involved? When I was a kid we came from the Burroughs, when living in a loft with a bunch of homeless people was cool. Now it's like what do you mean you are like making records and are not on the radio? The whole L.A. thing has totally absorbed the whole mentality of making records and writing.

Read the entire interview at this location.

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