This month’s Classic Albums Column focuses on Prong’s Cleansing. Mars Attacks Podcast episode 38 features an interview with Prong guitarist/lead singer Tommy Victor, along with comments from Gene Hoglan. As we established with the previous podcast we also discuss why this album was selected. You will find the podcast at the bottom of this post.
Click here to go to an index page that gives you details on everyone involved in the column.
This time around we have an interview with Ted Parsons drummer of Prong on Cleansing. As you can see from the interview he has been quite busy since his time in the band!
What was it like to write Cleansing?
It was a collaboration between Tommy , myself and sometimes Raven.. I would come up with a groove or Tommy would come up with a riff and we would jam in the studio and write tunes old school.
Tell us a little bit about the recording process.
It was the first time working with Terry date which was great. I´m sure Tommy can go in to more detail. We were all still living in NYC at the time. It was the first time I thought we finally had our sound and songs. We mixed at Electric Lady land which I thought was a big bore. I hate big fancy studios run by snobs.
Was there anything that the band was trying to accomplish with this album?
We wanted to make a great record of course, dry and in your face. I think we succeeded.
There is a big Killing Joke influence with this particular album, was this done intentionally?
Tommy and I have always been musically influenced by Killing Joke from the start. It just felt natural with Raven in the mix.
How did bringing Paul Raven and John Bechdel into the band affect the album?
Ravens bass sound was more what Tommy and I wanted. John brought in the added effects to spice up the tracks in the studio. We needed a key board player so we could do the samples live. I was playing most of the sounds using triggers and it freed me up to concentrate on drumming.
Does it surprise you that tracks off of this album are still played on metal radio, and at sporting events?
No not at all it still sounds fresh.
Does it bother you that more than a few bands have heavily “borrowed” from Prong, while not properly acknowledging the band’s influence?
No not really. Everyone rips off ideas and sounds from other people. It´s just how you present it.
In hindsight what impact do you think Cleansing made on your career and on metal?
It was definitely one of the best Prong albums in my opinion. Good songs, good drumming, great production. I never thought being in Prong as a career. Drumming is something that I needed to do and always will be doing.
Before Raven’s passing there was a rumor that this lineup might get back together again and tour, is there any truth to that?
Yes there was talk about it but nothing ever came of it. Raven was kicking around the idea to me a couple times. Tommy asked me a few years ago to come back to play with Prong after Raven died. They were opening for Soul Fly for a US tour and the drummer at the time, Aaron Rossi was off doing a Revolting Cocks tour. I was too busy with moving and other things. I can’t say if I would go back to play Prong music, but never say never.
What are you currently working on?
Building a new recording studio /rehearsal space. Jesu, Treponem Pal,Dark Drive Clinic (producer John Fryers project). Necessary, Teledubgnosis, Dub Neurotic and a host of other projects. I have done a lot of session work over the years. And been teaching drums in Oslo Norway where I live.
Where can people go to keep up to date with what you’re doing?
Facebook,and My space is a good start. Always looking for interesting bands and musicians to work with. Contact me through Facebook for some TP drumming!
“The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”
– Hunter S. Thompson
Here are comments that have been contributed to us by others regarding this album. Remember to check out the index page if you’re not sure who someone is, or to check out their sites to find out more about what they do. Again, these comments are in the order we’ve received them.
Dan Lorenzo – In 1992 NON-FICTION were hoping to open for Prong in Europe. We were shot down by Tommy Victor because we “weren’t heavy enough.”. Almost 20 years later you still remember stuff like this. I don’t own or know this cd. I know Prong had a few amazing songs. I know Tommy also once said he was the first guy to tune down to C in 1994. By that time I had already recorded 3 cds tuned down to C. But Jimmy Page did it before me.
Jon Leon – Never got into prong but they had a unique sound.
Joel Gausten – The first four songs are strong enough to make up for the dragging parts in the album’s second half. To be honest, I’ve never been a fan of the drum sound on this one, although Ted Parsons is a stellar player and one of the nicest guys on the planet.
Metal Mike – When I heard this, I said this is new. It was Metal, but not only. It has a new way of playing and structuring guitar riffs. I listened to this album non stop for a while.
Erik Kluiber – Hung out with the drummer and did a zine interview with him back in the 90s. Very down to earth guy.
Scott Middleton – Definitely one of the most underrated bands ever. I loved how heavy and simple this band could be. Tommy Victor’s vocals and guitar riffs always had purpose and carried such sinister melody. Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck is a 90’s metal classic that still sounds far more evil than most extreme metal. Combining influences from metal, industrial and post hardcore, Cleansing is truly a record that stood apart from so many other at the time.
Jane Alisabeth Grey – As riff-laden and aggressive as Prong is, what is striking about their “Cleansing” album is
their ability to groove. Bands like Prong and Faith No More sidestepped
that whole “metal can only be brutal” ethos and pioneered the idea that Heavy Music can be aggressive as hell while being unabashed about the song
having a groove to it. I feel that Prong are the obvious Progenitors of
bands like Biohazard & Pantera, however, now that industrial metal has some history, you can clearly hear the influence(recognized or not) by bands like Nine Inch Nails. This album has multiple moving guitar parts that sync together like a clock or time piece that really originate the modern industrial music sound.
JL – The 90s saw a change towards new forms of metal, Prong were pioneers in this sense. For this album, the crushing sound that has characterized Terry Date’s productions helped form a solid base that is displayed on this album. It also manifests what would become popular in metal shortly thereafter.
David Gonzalez – I actually don’t know Prong, or any of their hit. But since the album appeared on the list, I went back and listened to Cleansing. Initially it sounds like a good thrash album (with a leaning towards what seems to be their hardcore past), but the album doesn’t totally convince me. The album is possibly the band’s biggest release, and the guitars on the album sound very powerful, but I’m not fully convinced. The drumming on the album sounds too monotonous on every track. Something similar happens with the singing as well (the same thing happens when I listen to Fu Manchu), the singing just sounds all alike, and just tires me after a while. Perhaps my evaluation of this album isn’t good, and I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad album; it’s just a matter of opinion. I just feel that it doesn’t stand out as much as other albums that came out around the same time.
Angel Rubin – I still remember the impact made by several albums released in that year, like Chaos A.D. by Sepultura, Far Beyond Driven by Pantera, and Cleansing by the New York band Prong. Oh how metal world changed during the early 90s. You could almost see it on the horizon, metal was going to get quite a bit heavier. Tommy Victor, Ted Parsons, Paul Raven and John Bechdel who helped incorporate keyboards on this album. They were able to create a project that was pure hardcore thrash, full of masterful riffs by Tommy Victor, one of the great riff masters of the 90s. Machine Head themselves took notice of Tommy’s riffs, and used them as a reference when laying down guitar tracks on so many of their albums.
The album is well ahead of its time with potent tracks like “Another Worldly Device” which makes you bounce from the first infectious beat that is laid down by Ted Parsons. His playing is consistent, and powerful throughout. Another bombastic track is “Whose Fist Is This Anyway?”, when listening to this track today you can tell where a band like Rammstein get a good bit of inspiration. “Snap Your Fingers, Snap Your Neck” is one of the band’s most recognizable tracks. The song’s riffs are borderline thrash, and are mixed in with machine like drumming that moves full speed ahead. The track also features some double bass by Ted, and Tommy showing his teeth while mixing some rap like aspects into his frantic style of singing. The album moves forward with the pure thrash of Cut-Rate, the track surprises with a great solo during the middle of the song. On Broken Peace we start to see other influences creep in, this track contains a riff that contains a heavy reggae leanings before converting itself into a punishing heavy track with a killer chorus.
The album moves on with tracks like One Outnumbered, Out Of This Misery, and No Question which is a clear influence on Machine Head’s 90s albums. On Not Of This Earth the band seems to experiment a bit, trying to expand their musical horizons. To me this song has always reminded me of Alice In Chains. While Home Rule, and Sublime, hese are tracks that are more experimental, more personal, and different from the rest, with a hint of darkness. With Test they stylistically return to the first few songs off of the album, perhaps sounding a bit closer to Agnostic Front and Madball in the process, but adding that extra ingredient that separates Prong from the pack. The track also includes a quick but intense solo.
Summing things up, I think the band was a big influence on all of the bands mentioned above, along with a million other “metal-core” bands. Groups like Chimaira, Still Remains, Caliban, Throwdown, Slipknot, Hatebreed, and Pantera themselves. These bands owe Prong a debt of gratitude as most of them would not sound the same or would simply not existed if it was not for Prong.
The podcast portion can be streamed or downloaded from here: