Ever-changing Prong stays well ahead of the cliches

September 23, 1994|By J. D. Considine | J. D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

"I don't understand what the public problem with Prong is," says guitarist Tommy Victor. He's not whining about his band being misunderstood; what bugs him is that people seem to expect Prong to have a simple, specific sound when the band has always strived to avoid easy pigeonholes.

"We're always trying to stretch the limits and not do what ordinary groups seem to do," he says. "That's mainly been the idea behind the whole thing. Even in its conception, it was to break down cliches. But there's been resistance to everything." He laughs, and adds, "Everything we do is highly criticized, I think."

Take, for instance, the group's interest in dance music. "We started experimenting with remixing back when we did the song 'Third from the Sun,' which is a Chrome cover," says Victor. "We did this extended, nine-minute sort of dub mix." But Epic Records, believing that Prong was better off being marketed as a hardcore band than a dance act, hated the idea and tried to discourage further experimentation in that vein.

In fact, it wasn't until after Prong's second album for the label, "Prove You Wrong," failed to sell as expected that Epic agreed to let the group work with remixers Jim Thirwell and Paul Raven. The result -- an EP called "Whose Fist Is This Anyway?" --proved to be one of the band's most influential releases.

Since then, quite a few hardcore and thrash bands have followed Prong's lead and moved to a more danceable -- but no less aggressive -- sound, like the one found on the band's new album, "Cleansing." Why? "Because it's something different," answers Victor.

"Really, when I see a hardcore band these days, I cringe," he explains. "It's like the same stuff that the Cro-Mags were doing 10 years ago, and even before that, Minor Threat. Kids today think it's so new. It really disturbs me. And forget seeing a thrash metal band -- that is really boring.

"So a lot of people are realizing that a lot of these forms are really boring. They want to stretch out, and there are a lot of things that you can do. You know, when movements and scenes put limitations on groups, bands become limited and boring. Like the whole grunge scene. The second-generation grunge music, I thought, is stale. But that stuff is just starting to get popular in the Midwest and places like that because it just started to hit. You know, everything takes a while."

Wouldn't that mean, though, that in a few years those same kids will catch on to what Prong is doing now? Maybe, but Victor doubts that will do his band much good.

"The problem with Prong is, every time [out] we go down another trail," he says. "The next Prong album is probably going to be completely different than 'Cleansing.' It's hard to say what the next thing we're going to topple upon is. But we did the 'Cleansing' route. Now it's time to move on."

Prong

When: Saturday, Sept. 24, 8 p.m.

Where: Hammerjacks

Tickets: $12

Call: (410) 481-7328 for tickets, (410) 659-7625 for information

Prong songs

To hear excerpts from Prong's "Cleansing," call Sundial, The Sun's telephone information service, at (410) 783-1800. In Anne Arundel County, call 268-7736; in Harford County, 836-5028; in Carroll County, 848-0338. Using a touch-tone phone, punch in the four-digit code 6188 after you hear the greeting.

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