Really good debut albums are unusual but not unheard of. But what makes them more unusual is when there is no visible follow-up or if that follow up is years later. There are plenty of rushed and even disastrous second albums but usually, there is some follow up fairly quickly. Such is the story of the self-titled album by Prick.
If you were born in the 1990s, there is a good chance you’ve never heard of Prick. They only ever had a minor mainstream hit with the single “Animal” and while I know they toured, I only remember them as an opening act for the David Bowie’s Outside tour but a lot of people missed that as Prick was the opening act for the other opening act, Nine Inch Nails. But to be fair, there’s also a solid chance that if you’re my age, you don’t remember them or only vaguely, which is a shame because the first Prick album is really good.
Deep into a binge of industrial rock that consisted of alternating playing Nine Inch Nails, Ministry and Ministry side projects, I was always looking for something new in a similar industrial sound to take a listen to. Then one day, the video for “Animal” appeared on Much Music. It was dark, had guitar riffs that were both heavy and catchy. I think my friend Jeremy was the first to grab the album (although it very well could have been Aaron) which I quickly borrowed off him.
The thing about Prick was that there were a few things very readily apparent. On first listen, you could definitely hear why Trent Reznor had brought them to his record label. Prick was one man, a guy named Kevin McMahon who had been in the same music scene as Trent in Cleveland and you could tell right away they shared similar musical sensibilities so much so that you’d be forgiven if when listening Prick’s self-titled album if you just thought it was a Nine Inch Nails album or maybe a side project, especially if the only song you heard was “Animal.”
However, what would become more apparent on further listenings is that while the influences were similar, McMahon was very much a different artist than Trent. Prick had more of a sense of humor to it. McMahon also wasn’t afraid to try something that I can best describe as industrial pop. Songs like “I’ve Got It Bad” and “I Apologize” have very pop sensibilities and that type of tone but piped through the sound of industrial guitar distortion. McMahon also was very ready to play with sounds and shapes that the bands that influenced him had created and given his own spin on them. Throughout the album, you can hear a bit of Gary Numan and Bowie mixed with bits of Skinny Puppy. The final song, “Makebelieve,” captures elements of all of those bands in a phenomenal dream like song that turns into a nightmare by the end.
The track listing for Prick was perfect. Songs flowed into one another exactly how they should have, making the album a cohesive piece of music from back to front. It’s one of those debut albums that you listen to and say “Wow, that was really good… but album 2 is going to kick so much ass!”
And we waited.
You would hear things from interviews with Trent where people would ask “Where’s the next Prick album?” Afterall, he was the head of Nothing Records, he would know, right?
Unfortunately, this was all during a time period where Trent had a number of personal matters and demons to fight and at some point, Kevin McMahon was told his follow up album wasn’t “commercial” enough and he was quietly dropped from the label.
But that means there was a second album… somewhere…
2002, The internet is in full swing and Prick quietly makes it way through the fog with a new album, The Wreckard. And it was good. Unfortunately, this a time off after college debt and I never picked up a copy and it quickly went out of print. As is, two copies of Prick have mysteriously disappeared from my collection over the years. I have a copy from iTunes but one of these days I’m going to have to look for the CD again… or am I?
As of this writing, something interesting has happened and much like everything else with Prick, it has happened quietly. Nine Inch Nails announced the release of the second EP for the summer of 2017, I, as a dutiful fan, went and pre-ordered it from the official Nine Inch Nails site about two seconds after I hear I could pre-order it. I put it in my cart and then I start looking around to see if there’s anything new and interesting. The last time, there was a new version of The Fragile on vinyl, maybe there would be something cool this time.
Sitting there, quietly at the bottom of the page is Prick’s self-titled album on vinyl. Available in black and a limited edition color disc. What does this mean for Prick? Not much probably. By everything I read about McMahon’s departure from Nothing Records and Interscope, it didn’t sound like he begrudged Trent anything. They were friends before the album, maybe Trent’s just giving an album he liked a proper vinyl release. Or maybe it’s a signal that Prick is starting to move again. It took seven years last time so it’s not out of the realm of possibility. I’m just glad that there will be at least one kid out there who want’s to justify the cost of shipping on an order from the Nine Inch Nails store and pick this album up and fall in love with it as much as I did.