INTERVIEW WITH TOMMY VICTOR BY SAMMIE STAR
PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATHANIEL SHANNON
Prong has been dedicated to its craft for the last 40 years, and the band’s commitment is evident with 13 albums. It has been four years since they released their Age of Defiance EP, and their newest album, State of Emergency, is a testament to the band’s growth and diversity. Tommy Victor, the band’s lead vocalist and guitarist, has used this album to fully express his diverse musical tastes and reflect of Prong’s musical journey. With State of Emergency, Prong continues to solidify its status as one of the most innovative and exciting bands in the music industry. While Victor is a seasoned pro within the rock industry, he says it’s a “higher power” that keeps the band’s music interesting.
“I left it up to the art gods,” Victor laughs. “I didn’t really press to make anything specific while making this record. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. When the pandemic hit, my wife and I had a young boy and later on we had another girl. We asked ourselves, ‘Do we really want to keep doing this?’ I got hit with a few tours that were really successful, and I didn’t have a record deal. When Napalm’s Steamhammer record label approached me, they made an offer I couldn’t refuse. It makes me feel energized to see some positive reinforcement from others. At the time, no one was interested, and I was struggling to get a record deal. Knowing that people are interested and there is a market for it is what keeps me going.”
“IT MAKES ME FEEL ENERGIZED TO SEE SOME POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT FROM OTHERS.”
State of Emergency is an album that symbolizes the culmination of the artist’s musical exploration, as well as a tribute to the hard-earned wisdom and experience that comes with performing in the heavy metal scene across the world. The album is a celebration of growth and the evolution of Prong’s sound, as they push the boundaries of the genre. With State of Emergency, Prong aims to showcase the band’s unique perspective and provide a fresh take on heavy metal. From hard rock to thrash, Victor wanted State of Emergency to pay homage to the rich history and culture of the scene that inspired him.
“I came out of a really weird writing process on that EP,” says Victor. “That was supposed to be a full-length record. When I listened to the 12 demos of the songs, I didn’t really feel that strongly about them. It was a weird period for me. There were only two really good songs in the batch. With this record, everything was written back in New York when we moved. The material felt a lot stronger, the riffs were better, and I felt more comfortable doing them. It’s just one of those things, and I think the stars aligned. I enjoyed the process. I just sat down and things worked out better.”
“THE MATERIAL FELT A LOT STRONGER, THE RIFFS WERE BETTER, AND I FELT MORE COMFORTABLE DOING THEM”
While State of Emergency is not only about musical exploration, but also about delving into the breaking point of personal struggles. While this very concept of hardship and overcoming obstacles is a staple within the scene of heavy music, it is one that was personal to Victor on this record. His lyrics and musical arrangements were a reflection of his personal experiences and emotions, which added depth and authenticity to the album. Through this record, Victor was able to connect with his audience on a deeper level and convey the message that despite the challenges we face, we can find hope and strength to overcome them.
“I put myself in that position,” Victor surmises. “I must say that my personal life and everything are pretty great. I feel blessed, and I have a wonderful life. I try to get into the mainstream of the mindset of average people. Going on tour with Black Label Society was an amazing thing. During the pandemic, I was shut down. I was living in LA. It was shut down for like a year at least. Being out on the road, going all over the country for two months, I got to see how everyone was all pent up. The shows were crazy. Everyone was over-drinking and doing drugs. It was just craziness. That was the breaking point. People were fed up with all this stuff, and I felt that sentiment. Regardless of how happy I am in my personal life, it’s pretty crazy out there.”