By the time PRONG had signed to Epic Records in 1989, the New York City post-metal triumvirate had already accomplished a lot. The band, formed by guitarist and vocalist Tommy Victor, soundman at the legendary club CBGB's along with the club's doorman Mike Kirkland and ex-Swans drummer Ted Parsons had already released two independent records: the Primitive Origins EP (1987) and Force Fed (1988).
A show at the old Ritz in New York with New York hardcore legends Cro-Mags and German thrashers Destruction was what sealed a deal with Epic Records. "Signing with a major label was very much a matter of survival," Victor explained to Britain's Kerrang! magazine in 1990. "We aren't high school kids living with our parents." Survive and thrive was more like it for PRONG. 1990's Beg To Differ became an instant genre classic. Songs like the epic title track or the tightly disciplined and sonically dynamic "Lost and Found" further carved out the band's innovative deconstruction of metal's excesses.
"We never saw ourselves as just a metal band," stated Victor. "Our riffs, lyrics and ideas were minimal but conveyed everything we felt and everything we saw going on around us living in New York City in the 80's. A lot of what I had to say was pretty reactionary. Disneyland hadn't moved in yet."
Over the course of their next three major label releases: Prove You Wrong, (1991) Cleansing (1994) and Rude Awakening (1996), PRONG charted an innovative course. It was actually the Whose Fist Is This Anyway?-EP that ushered in PRONG's best-known era. The EP was comprised of five remixes from the Prove You Wrong album: introducing a heavier groove and experiments in electronics that gave rise to PRONG's best known and best selling work: Cleansing.
"We saw where we felt things in metal and hardcore could go and we rolled the dice a bit," says Tommy of the band's watershed release.
With keyboardist John Bechdel and former Killing Joke bassist Paul Raven, Cleansing cemented PRONG's position as a mainstream metal mainstay. The album's single "Snap Your Fingers Snap Your Neck" has been up there in the top 100 riffs ever in Kerrang! After years of toiling on the fringes - propelled by touring with the likes of White Zombie and Pantera - PRONG had arrived.
Rude Awakening was a natural follow-up. Informed by classic post-punk influences like Killing Joke and like-minded Brits Head of David, it showcased PRONG's continued move into more industrial territory. From the jarring lead song "Controller" to the sweeping chords of the title track, it was PRONG's most mature and fulfilled work to date. It was also to be PRONG's last for Epic. The band and label parted ways just weeks after the album's release.
The history of PRONG has cast a long shadow - bands like Korn, Slipknot and Nine Inch Nails openly acknowledge their influence.
After a self-prescribed hiatus, 2012 saw PRONG blow the hinges off the door with the release of "Carved Into Stone". Seemingly out of nowhere, Tommy Victor and company managed to combine all the previous elements of the band's formula: thrash, hardcore, industrial metal, etc. with a new urgency and angst that struck a deep nerve with the band's loyal fan-base and beyond.
The band marched onwards with 2014's highly acclaimed "Ruining Lives" which spawned a number of instant classics. "Turnover", "The Barriers" and the title track became staples in their live set when embarking on a bone breaking schedule of concerts around the world in support of the record. A video for "Remove, Separate Self" was released creating even more interest in this significant recording.
Recorded over the summer of 2014 and released in early 2015, PRONG's cover album "Songs From The Black Hole" was loved by fans and critics alike. Always game to make the unexpected move, the album featured songs from artists as diverse as Husker Du, The Bad Brains, Black Flag, The Sisters Of Mercy and Neil Young.
After yet another headline tour, it was straight back to the studio for another studio album. Just days after mixing was completed, PRONG went on the road with Danzig and SuperJoint Ritual in North America and released the first single "Ultimate Authority" on the day the tour began.
"X - No Absolutes" is PRONG at their very best. The sheer intensity and ferocity of the albums opening triumvirate "Ultimate Authority", "Sense Of Ease" and "Without Words" leaves the listener gasping for air. The title track is crunchy and catchy at the same time. "Do Nothing" may be as close as you will ever hear PRONG get to a ballad and shows the enormous progress and confidence Victor has made vocally. It is hard to find a weak spot here, notably Victor mentions that "sequencing the album was a difficult task; every song is so strong in it's own way".
Tommy Victor (Vocals, Guitars) Jason Christopher (Bass, Backing Vocals) Art Cruz (Drums)