PRONG – “People Are Insecure”

February 2, 2016, 2 years ago

Aaron Small

feature heavy metal prong

PRONG – “People Are Insecure”

The X in the cover art and title of Prong’s new album, X – No Absolutes, represents the Roman numeral ten, because No Absolutes is the tenth studio album of all original material from the band; marking a milestone achievement. “Is it a milestone? I guess,” ponders Prong frontman Tommy Victor. “It’s not like Bowie, how many records did he have, 90 or something? It could have been more if Prong didn’t break up like five times; we probably would have had 20 by now.”
 
All modesty aside, Victor explains why No Absolutes, also the name of track five, was chosen as the album’s moniker. “It was easy to do artwork for that title, and it brought in something current – the major insecurity in the world. People are insecure in themselves; just go on Facebook and you can see that. It’s a pretty nutty world.”
 
Agreed, just look at the Paris terror attacks of November 2015. “That’s all because somebody wrote something - one person - hundreds of years ago; so that makes it true. Yeah, okay. That’s how crazy humans are, we’re absolutely gone. We have to cling to something that makes absolutely no sense. I recently got a digital antenna, cause all I had was Netflix. There’s all these public access Bible shows; it’s pretty interesting. Historically, the Bible’s been rewritten. Kings have taken it to use for their agenda, it still doesn’t matter. Whatever’s in there, that’s the truth. Something that’s written so long ago, by a human – but this is the word of God. You have to be completely crazy to believe that.”
 

Joining Tommy on No Absolutes, which has a street date of February 5th via Steamhammer / SPV, are bassist Jason Christopher and drummer Art Cruz. Leading up to the album’s release, Tommy previously commented, “Our themes on this record will certainly inspire some thought.” Elaborating upon that statement, Victor adds, “I spent a lot of time with the lyrics. At this point in my career, I’m trying to find some purpose for this thing. Maybe that’s stupid or egotistical? I’m not trying to tell anybody what to do. I’m not trying to preach to anyone. I’m not trying to educate people; I’m just an average idiot. But I’m pretty serious about the lyrics for some reason. The consistency of Prong throughout the years has been – regardless of all the member changes, the stylistic changes, different producers and the craziness that’s gone on – at least that identity of the lyrics has some kind of consistency throughout the whole thing. I don’t think that many people give a flying fuck about it either, cause I get very few comments about the lyrics.”
 
While that may be an unfortunate truth, Victor’s lyrics are far superior to the stereotypical ‘I love you baby, don’t ever leave me’ mush. “There’s nothing wrong with that, that’s real. People’s average lives should be recognized in country music. They have that vehicle for that stuff. Metal is a good place to target mainstream society; this is where all the dregs are. I guess you could have a country and western song called ‘No Absolutes’. Apply it to somebody wondering when they’re getting their pay cheque. But there’s a certain amount of… ‘Beg To Differ’, ‘No Absolutes’, ‘Prove You Wrong’, ‘Ruining Lives’ – all these songs have a similar theme.”
 
“Worth Pursuing” contains a great line, which can be applied worldwide, ‘You know your system has its flaws.’ It’s so obvious and true, yet incredibly potent. “Do people really know that? Americans are weird. We know that it’s all a farce in a way, then in order to get involved in the discussion we pretend that it’s not. We’re such phonies, we don’t live truthfully anymore. I don’t know if we ever did, I don’t know if humans can? It’s a strange thing. And your system can be just the way you live too. People stay in these dead end jobs for 35 years; I can relate to that,” laughs Victor. “It’s a bizarre thing what we do. Then people act proud about it, proud of being miserable, which is strange. You go to Europe and people know their lives are… the way we’ve set up society, there’s too much stress. So they adapt, everyone has a month off, there’s a month vacation over there at least for everybody. The majority of people work, at most, a 40-hour week. There’s no overtime and all this craziness that we have over here (in America). We just keep beating each other up all the time.”
 
With No Absolutes being a somewhat politically charged album, Victor offers his thoughts on who will become the next President of The United States. “I think it’s Hillary (Clinton). But I mean, come on, do we really think this is an election? It’s a show; it’s been a show for a really long time. You get outsiders, but they’re all funded by somebody. Who’s got all that money to put into running for office? You have to have a lot of freaking money to throw away into promoting yourself. You’re representing somebody’s agenda, and it’s going to be somebody with power already who’s trying to maintain it. These guys are just figureheads of whatever. It’s all lobbying and underhanded – you watch House Of Cards, that’s the way it is. But Americans have been brainwashed into believing there’s some fairness in all this stuff.” 
 
“The song ‘Cut And Dry’ goes into that a little bit. People use their economic status or whatever, in order to make themselves feel better than everybody else; but we’re all the same. Essentially we are moving towards singularity, we’ll all face the same consequences inevitably. People down south, or wherever, aren’t starving because they’re all obese. They’re always voting Republican and waving this weird flag of America’s great. I love America, I would never live any place else – that’s not what I’m saying. Then as soon as their pension’s taken away, they’re crying and complaining. I just think there’s a lack of gratitude. These people, they’re proud one minute; then they’re bitching. There’s so much hypocrisy and contradiction. In the story of that song, this guy has all this self-esteem, then for whatever reason he’s crying in his beer. From one end to the other – you have a job, then something happens and everyone’s supposed to help you. It’s best to stay in the middle. When you get too comfortable, is when you start really having to worry. Tony Robbins talks about that a lot – when you’re struggling, that’s actually the best place to be. It has to be that way, because if everyone was happy, nothing would happen. We’d have nothing to strive for and our lives would be completely meaningless. Dissatisfaction is a great place to be. Essentially that’s the only driving thing for us as humans, is when you’re unhappy.”
 

 
“Do Nothing” is undoubtedly the song on No Absolutes that stands out the most, due to its markedly different beginning. It’s not quite a ballad, but Tommy’s vocal is so isolated and he’s singing tenderly, as opposed to shouting angrily. “After having ideas for the first batch of songs, it was good but almost too much of a regular thrash record. That’s when I asked my friend Erie Loch (Dream In Red) if he had anything? He’s a keyboard player so he had the basic idea for ‘Do Nothing’. When I first heard it I went, holy shit, I know exactly what to do with this. It was a weird thing; I sat with it and wrote that whole lyric in five minutes. It was really fast. I wanted something like The Doors… they have this variety. We have a double-edged sword on making records today; it’s harder because you have the Spotify market where people are giving you 20 seconds. A song like ‘Ultimate Authority’ is instantaneous, then because of vinyl you have to make album rock too. I want people to listen to the whole damn thing. You have to have some kind of pace; I was looking at it from that standpoint a lot.”
 
“With Dignity” is a second-cousin song to “Do Nothing”. “Yeah, but if we didn’t do Songs From The Black Hole (the 2015 covers album), I probably wouldn’t have done those songs. When we did ‘Cortez The Killer’ (originally by Neil Young), I think that came out unbelievable. I was so happy about that. I really racked my brains on it. At first I was trying to sing like Lou Reed on that song, then I was trying to scream it, then I tried a goth voice thing. You know what? I’m going to sing this like a real singer – and it sounded pretty cool. So I figured I’d keep doing that with Prong. It wasn’t like we came out of nowhere and suddenly did a song I’m actually singing on. It was cool to have that on ‘Do Nothing’ because I’d already introduced that voice. I haven’t had that much negative response about it, but some people are confused by it a little bit. It’s a good song, it really is. So that compensates for any sort of weirdness when it’s put into the Prong realm.”
 
Some people only want short, fast and heavy. “I don’t think that’s true with Prong fans. Even on Cleansing we have ‘Not Of This Earth’ which is almost like a ballad, ‘One Outnumbered’ is a heavy ballad in a way. Believe it or not, those songs were written on acoustic guitar; it’s a matter of production. Even Rude Awakening… there’s a lot of songs that aren’t just thrash. This record’s designed for Prong fans, everyone else I couldn’t really give a fuck about.”
 

 
The digipak version of No Absolutes contains an exclusive bonus track, “Universal Law”. According to Tommy, “We had to make some changes to that at the last minute. After doing all of the other songs, and having this other track, that was always sort of like the B-side in my opinion. That song wasn’t as good as it should have been. Art (Cruz, drummer) really made a lot of changes to that song, it was finalized and then a lot of people liked that song, so it’s not really a B-side now. I go in and do these songs; I don’t think a hell of a lot about this stuff, but for some reason that was one of my least favourites. Now I listen to it again, and it sounds cool. I don’t even know.”
 
Prong has plenty of touring booked in support of No Absolutes. The trio will be in Europe from late March until early April. That trek will be followed by a North American jaunt running late April through to early June. With all these shows lined up, has there been any consideration given to filming a live DVD? “No! I’m not a big fan of that whole thing. I don’t like YouTube. I’m almost leaning towards Glenn (Danzig) on that; Glenn hates any of that stuff. We would wait for Circus Magazine to come out, and once a year you’d get a couple of Black Sabbath photos – that created the mystique of the band. But that’s dead and over, I’m being deluded here. He’s under the delusion thinking you can still have quality control over this whole thing, which you can’t. How are you going to police these things?” 
 
That’s it exactly. Rather than have hundreds of shit quality cell phone videos of Prong in concert flooding YouTube, film and release a band authorized live DVD that everybody could enjoy. “Being as neurotic as I am, on our European tour last year, we were playing impeccable. The shows were going great, they decided to do a live recording… nothing was going wrong until that show. I actually lost a good amount of money because of it. Because the show was not up to my standards by any sense of the imagination, it couldn’t be released. Me thinking that way, it would probably be the same thing – hire this film crew, we’ll get the ProTools in there – and the show’s going to suck. We’d have to have a whole bunch of funds to do a whole bunch of shows, and have people come around with us. When you try to do this, something always goes wrong. We’re not on the level where we can really do something to get bang for our buck; I hate losing money.”

 

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