Tommy Victor Breaks Down Prong’s ‘State of Emergency’ and the Stress of Performing Danzig Classics

Tommy Victor has earned his status as one of metal’s most tireless ironmen.

Founder, vocalist, and guitarist for groove metal luminaries Prong and guitarist for the legendary Danzig, Victor has the battle scars from decades of pounding the pavement and navigating trip-wires of the ever-turbulent music landscape.

He returns with Prong’s thirteenth studio effort, and first in six years, the aptly titled State of Emergency, one which he shares was inspired by his return to his native east coast.

“Everything was written in New York, all the lyrics, all the riffs, all the songs, and then recorded locally. That was part of the whole plan of it,” he shared during a sitdown with Decibel.

“I was trying to investigate the differences between the coasts. And the fact that when you’re back home where you’re born. I started feeling the same feelings because where I live now isn’t that far from where I grew up.”

Juggling the rigors of the pandemic with the birth of his children and moving across the country, State of Emergency is classic Prong. No frills, no filler, all gutt-busting ruffs and thick, chugging groove.

“I tried doing that (reinventing the band) in 1995. That was the last time I really tried to do that. And that didn’t seem to go too well,” he shares with a laugh. “I’m enjoying being a legacy band because of that, where I could say I don’t have to worry about how djent-y I am right now.

“Guitar players today are under a lot of pressure to do as much as they can in order to impress people. And I’m not bagging or anything, but they wind up impressing nobody because it becomes this barrage of technicalities that are like, does anybody really care anymore? I guess some people do. I know there’s a whole underground of crazy guitar players who are just trying to outsweep themselves. I don’t have to compete with that.”

The album is capped off with a rousing cover of Rush classic “Working Man”, a band that served as a massive inspiration for Victor in his formative years.

“The thing is, when I was a kid, I didn’t play guitar, so I was a bass player in bands when I was in high school and shit. So of course, Geddy Lee was the guy. He was one of the top dudes, right? I saw Rush so many times.”

“There was no way of not having them influence you. It was impossible because they were so popular. They weren’t on the big scale, but like guys that are playing in garage bands, it’s like we were doing Zeppelin covers and Bad Company and then Rush songs and that’s the way it was back in the day. And “Working Man” was like the standard one. I know it’s not with Neil, but the riff is so easy and it’s so basic that it’s a killer track. I mean, I love the lyric and everything. So that’s one of the reasons why that one stood out to me. The lyrics fit into the whole State of Emergency too. It fit in for some reason, so I really wanted to do it.”

Reflecting on his time as a guitarist in Danzig, Victor admits that the gig comes with its share of pressure.

Danzig marks the 35th anniversary of their seminal self-titled album this year, with the band toasting the album on tour. Stepping into the shoes of the shredders who came before him, particularly original guitarist John Christ, is an unenviable position, he shares.

“Glenn, he trusts me in a lot of ways,” he explains. “It was hard for me because there’s a lot of solos on that record (Danzig I). There’s a lot of John Christ solos on that record and he’s impossible to emulate. I still am scared. The Danzig fans are very harsh on me anyhow, but it was scary going out and playing these,” he admits candidly. “It’s always a high-pressure gig for me because I’m playing other guy’s parts. I’m on the later records, but those aren’t the significant as the early ones, so it’s a tough gig.”

Prong’s State of Emergency is available worldwide on October 6th. Pre-order the album here.