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The Industrial Nuance of Prong

Talking with Tommy Victor about industrial music present and past

I have an interview up at the Colorado Springs Independent with Tommy Victor, leader of the metal band Prong for some 26 years. The occasion is the release of the band’s new album, Carved in Stone, and its attendant tour. There are several ways in which metal and ambient electronic music have interacted or overlapped, and a lot of attention gets paid, rightly, to metal’s drone caucus, bands like Earth and Sunn O))) who slow down metal even further than Black Sabbath ever managed to, and get at something heavier in the process.

But there are other branches, and Prong’s employment over the years, and to varying degrees, of industrial music less as genre and more as nuance has been an interesting, and often enjoyable, thing to observe and listen to. Early on, the essential agent in this was arguably drummer Ted Parsons, who through the simple act of gating his drums — that is, of truncating the sound, lending them them a slightly clipped effect — adopted the aura of electronic percussion. And in turn, those sounds informed the band’s compositions. (Research for this Prong interview led me to get up to date on Parsons’ work, which delightfully led to learning about his Teledubgnosis work: “Digital Dub’s Metal Past.”) Sadly, my favorite Prong track, the one that best exemplifies this approach, never became a core part of the Prong repertoire. Here is a brief segment of the interview that didn’t make the final cut of the story:

Weidenbaum: I interviewed you last in 1990 or 1991, around the time of the Beg to Differ album. I was addicted at the time to the song “Prime Cut.”

Victor: We were recently rehearsing that song, and I knew there was someone who was deeply into that song. So, I guess that was you.

Weidenbaum: Will it be on the greatest hits collection?

Victor: It’s, you know, a little too avant-garde for that compilation.

The compilation mentioned here is due out later this year. Parsons, who is no longer with the band, may, or may not, have been primarily responsible for Prong’s early industrial approach, but Victor certainly himself came to prominence, notably as a participant in Ministry, as well as in Trent Reznor’s Tapeworm project.

Read the full piece at csindy.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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