“Finally! Helmet and Prong on tour together at last. The circle is now complete.”
–Tommy Victor, Prong
“We were basically cut from the same musical cloth…”
-Page Hamilton, Helmet
New York, NY: One can argue, but it all really started at CBGB, that legendary (sometimes, infamous) outpost of seminal punk rock, new wave, no-wave and hardcore.
Around the late eighties/early nineties, at a point when the “scene” had dropped into one of those valleys, (post Television/Talking Heads, Sunday NYCHC matinees, with indie rock starting to encroach), that 2 influential bands, with more in common than realized, started to be touted as local heroes…
On one hand, you had Prong. A trio led by CBGB soundman, Tommy Victor and featuring ex-Swans drummer Ted Parsons, and on the other, Glenn Branca protege, Page Hamilton’s osmotic new take on jazz- something called Helmet.
The two outfits may have looked different: Helmet were four guys with military cuts and shorts (with the exception of Australian-born guitarist, Peter Mengede)- they could have been spawned from the Dischord catalog. And Prong, leather jackets, long hair. However, something about the intensity of both bands was inherently “New York,” with its mix of culture and style.
The parallels didn’t stop there, though. Both Prong and Helmet boasted top-shelf musicianship, a fact never missed by fans and critics, alike. While each group’s canon to-date had already been distinctive enough to set them apart from their respective ‘packs,’ there existed a shared aesthetic reaching somewhere between Sabbath Bloody Sabbath and Gang Of Four’s Entertainment! that can be described as a commitment to a sort of, controlled crunch- short, precisely orchestrated blasts prefacing explosive musical ejections. Whether they were trying to or not, both perfectly articulated a youth-owned restlessness, which is why, over time, it would be co-opted by many bands the world over.
So, it makes sense that after taking their rightful places in the annals of the NYC underground, the Trouser Press Record Guide, the major label deals, the National and International noise/punk scene, both bands, remaining as honest and vital as their salad days on the Bowery, would, at long last, collude for a co-headlining tour of the United States. That’s right, come May 2018, Helmet and Prong will embark upon a 19 date jaunt spanning the Southeast, Midwest, and the East Coast.
Says Tommy Victor: “Finally! Helmet and Prong on tour together at last. The circle is now complete. From the years of crafting groundbreaking riffage and rhythmical carnage on New York’s Lower East Side, to now, the entities still standing that drafted a generation of sonic assault are about to collide. And getting to share a stage with Page Hamilton, one of the most influential masters in existence, is an honor for me personally. Absolutely perfect.”
Unbeknownst to some, Helmet and Prong did have a mutual admiration society going. Victor, and then-Prong-bassist, Mike Kirkland, in fact, curated the former’s residence at CBGB, which was the spot at the time, (if that was your sound). Hamilton recalls, “Helmet really got off the ground after playing audition night at CBGB’s in 1989 (I think those were Mondays?). Tommy was the FOH engineer and door guy was Mike Kirkland. There were many great bands in NY/east village at the time (Sonic Youth, Rat at Rat R, Live Skull) but most were more in the noise/no wave vein. Prong had an indie vibe but with a heavy dose of metal. We were basically cut from the same musical cloth though Helmet leaned a little more toward noise and feedback and while remaining inspired by AC/DC ‘s funkiness. We played, Hilly said nothin’, Louise told me later we were like ice picks to her forehead but Tommy and Mike said, “book these guys now!””
Hamilton caps it, “We will be forever indebted to Prong and couldn’t be happier to have an NYC reunion tour coming up.”