Today in 1990, Prong’s sophomore album, Beg to Differ, was released. The album, their first for Epic Records, brought the New York City trio into the national spotlight for the first time. When we caught up with guitarist and vocalist Tommy Victor, he seemed surprised that the album’s 25th anniversary was on March 12th, since he’d only though of the date as his sister’s and older manager’s birthday. He hadn’t listened to the album all the way through until several years ago, when the band performed the entire album. But in rediscovering it, Victor says it led to the writing process of Ruining Lives.
“We were posed with the issue of having to do the record from start to finish about two years ago,” he says. “I hadn’t really listened to the record in int’s entirety for years and years. I listened to it and thought ‘how the hell am I going to play this stuff again?’ It was more advanced than what my playing is now. In rediscovering it, I think it helped in writing Ruining Lives. It’s interesting in that I readdressed earlier Prong and went in to write another record, and was like ‘hey, this seemed to work in the past.’ I think that record’s great.And reflecting on how the record was done, it was similar to Ruining Lives in the speed of its production and writing, and I think that’s a formula for me to work in the future again because of the success of both of those records.”
With it’s mixture of hardcore, an almost jazz influence, and the groove metal-like sound, Beg to Differ sounded a lot different from anything else going on in metal at the time. “We weren’t really hardcore, we weren’t really thrash, we weren’t really crossover, we weren’t industrial metal, which barely even existed at the time,” Victor says. “We were somewhere in the void. That’s how the album gained the notoriety that it did.”
That included the manner in which Prong, which also included drummer Ted Parsons and bassist Mike Kirkland at the time, recorded the album. “At that time, I was still doing sound at CBGB, and I was involved with music 24 hours a day. When I was in with Mark Dodson, who was a really successful producer at the time, he didn’t really know how to approach Prong. He was scratching his head a little bit, and i was like ‘this is the kind of snare I use at hardcore shows, and kids always respond to this sort of hip-hop snare sound in the breakdowns,’ and he was like “OK, that’s cool mate.” So we went with that, and people were kind of alarmed, and that was something that no one did before. I was pretty confident based working at CBs and seeing the response to my approach on drum sounds with hardcore bands that it would work. Also, Mike and Ted were brilliant in their own parts. We didn’t’ really come from a metal background. Mike was in Damage and Ted with Swans. It was a combination of everyone involved that made it exciting and different and fun. We had a really good time doing that record. The vibes were good. It wasn’t like we were questioning anything. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we had a good time and we were really happy about it.”
Prong’s covers album, Songs from the Black Hole, will be out on March 31 on eOne. Stay tuned for an interview with Victor about that.