I had a hard time preparing for this interview. I loved your earlier work. My first ever mosh pit was at a Prong show at the Dynamo Open Air Festival in Holland back in the day. Back then, the "Cleansing" album blew me away. Sadly, most stuff that came out after that amazing album didn’t quite speak to me. The band kept up it’s powerful live performances but to me it missed that spark on the albums.
Enter "X - No Absolutes", your latest release. I just listened to it three times and it once again blew me away. There’s that spark and energy I remember; the band has fun with its material. What changed?
Making records sometimes is a hit or miss ordeal. Look at Black Sabbath. There are some amazing records, and some that are lesser. A lot has to do with the conditions. Sometimes a studio is uncomfortable. At times one tries new things and they just don't work out that great. We've been getting lucky a little—having great people involved helps a lot. Everyone was excited and had a good attitude this time. One bad attitude can really spoil a record too.
There’s a nice variety in the songs on this album, and it’s very nicely balanced. What can you tell me about the tracks?
It was important to mix things up a bit for this record. I definitely wanted to avoid making a straightforward hardcore Thrash record. The songs that are in that vein stand out more I think. We have some songs that cater to the "Rude Awakening" period, others a little more "Cleansing" orientated. I think we accomplished giving what our fans wanted. That was the main purpose. I like to feel people are getting their money's worth.
The sound of some of the songs on this album—I wouldn’t say it doesn’t sound like Prong, but at the very least it’s a new Prong Chapter. Did you gain new influences while writing this album?
Not at all. Having this fairly large catalogue to refer to helps in picking and choosing what works. It's a Prong record for sure. "Do Nothing" is a bit of a surprise to some, being sort of a ballad, but "Not Of This Earth" from the album "Cleansing" is not so drastically different. Basically I firmly believe we just have better written songs now.
Why is the X in the title of this album? It’s your 11th studio album! Are you testing how many people would notice?
I counted and yes it is the 10th full length studio record of original material.
Original material, of course. I overlooked the fact one was a remix album. Shame on me! As I said, your new release sounds like you had a lot of fun writing it. How is it these days to be part of Prong?
It's more challenging than ever. I have to do more—I'm much more involved in the production. I also have increased the vocal focus of the band, and the new riffs are far more technical than ever before. Jason and Art are great so I don't have to worry about them so much, and Chris Collier plays a huge part in the record. His contribution is amazing, and yes, we have a very nice relationship that helps in making these records. To me, fun is getting the job done on time and within budget. We don't mess around too much these days.
Before you released your album, I listened to all your latest releases on Spotify. One of those is an official Bootleg: "Unleashed in the West" from 2015. On this release we hear your great live sound, and a true Prong-feeling I kind of missed on your studio release that same year ("Songs From The Black Hole"). Do you feel Prong as a live band differs from Prong the studio band?
It does but a lot of bands can say that. You try to make records sound the best as you can. It's going to be stripped down a lot live. We don't use backing tracks so the live show is a lot more raw.
Was it a conscious decision to leave the audience sounds and other dialogs out of this live release? It gives it the feel of a nice raw punky studio release!
Yeah we weren't concerned with that too much. The main idea was to consolidate all those more popular songs from all those old different sounding releases into the raw basic format without all the production.
I do believe the new release, "X - No Absolutes" has (for the first time since "Cleansing" for me personally) captured part of that Prong spirit on record. You are currently touring. How well does the new material fit into your live sets? How do the fans react to it?
Well we've only played "Ultimate Authority" live to this point and it went over great. we will be doing several others on the upcoming European run.
Any last words for our readers?
I’d personally like to thank you for making my first ever mosh pit such an awesome experience. Your crowd interaction back then, the energy you poured into your performance with (now) classics like "Broken Pieces" and "Who’s Fist Is This Anyway" is something that turned into a very happy festival memory. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us!
Metal On Loud!