Hey Jeff!!How are you digging graves nowadays?How is life in Ohio with TON?
Jeff Shepler: Greetings! Life here in Ohio is pretty much like life anywhere, family, work, and metal. Life with Ton could not be any better. Kevin, Dan and I are the best of friends, we have a blast playing together, and we’ve never been more in sync, motivated and tight as we are right now.
How did you start to play brutal death metal?How did you form TON?
I’ve been playing music my whole life, but things really got interesting for me in the mid 80’s when I started listening to thrash. Bands like Slayer, Metallica and Anthrax made me want to play in a band. From thrash, things just kept progressing into heavier more brutal realms. I met Dan in 91 or 92, we were playing some cover tunes – nothing too serious. Things got going in 93 when we started jamming with Kev. At that point we focused all our efforts on creating our own sound.
I had no idea about the era between 1993 and 1997 before your Blind Follower demo crushed the scene.Can you tell us the first demo years?
Those were some very formative years for us. At that time we were heavily influenced by thrash, but starting to progress toward deathmetal. We recorded three demos in those years, What is Heavy, Crushing Design, and Point of View, and we played lots of shows. It was also in that period that we met Buddy Mitchell of Drogheda. He introduced us to the deathmetal underground, and that was a game changer. Getting exposure to what so many other bands were doing was amazing.
Your demo Blind Follower was a kick ass demo when tape trades were still going on the scene.It was pretty technical and brutal death metal with political lyrics.What do you think about those days?What were the lyrical concept in that demo?
Thanks! We’re glad you dig it. Blind Follower was another step in our continuing musical evolution. Our goal was always to be heavy and slammy, but also to encorporate technicality and speed as well. Blind Follower was the first real glimps of what we could become. There wasn’t a connective theme that tied the songs together lyrically. What they have in common is that they are all about real stuff. Topics like governmental corruption, personal subjegation at the whims of society, and dealing with grief.
What does TON mean?Why did you name it TON?
We kicked around a bunch of ideas when we were name-hunting. We all agreed that it should be descriptive of our style in some way, and not typical. Someone jokingly suggested Ton – we laughed – then later it came up again, and it stuck. It is fitting with our original goal of making the heaviest music we could.
TON is a kick ass but stayed as an underrated true underground death metal band in the scene.What do you think about this situation?
I think that is largely do to the fact that we broke up in 2001. We were gaining momentum and fans when things fell apart. Somewhere along the way we lost sight of the original premiss of having fun. All things happen for a reason I suppose. The time apart definatly made us appreciate each other’s talents and contributions even more.
Your first album was technical and heavy brutality with dirty dark sound.I remember that you had good reactions to ‘’Plague’’.Can you tell us the year of 1999?
Going into the Plague recording sessions we were firing on all cylinders – feeling like we were on top of our game. We completed the disc, released it, and played shows in support of it. We felt like it was our best recording, another step in our evolution.
You left the scene for a long long break.What happened between 1999 and 2015?
Sometime around 2000 it slowly became harder for us to get on the same page. Then in 2001 we broke up. None of stopped playing. I switched to guitar and started another band, Fully Consumed. Dan and Kev had several bands with different line-ups.
How did you reform the band? Can you tell us the story behind your comeback album Bow Down The Extinction?
So I ended up playing bass in a couple of Dan and Kev’s bands. We were having fun jamming together again, but it wasn’t Ton. As our other projects became unviable we decided that Ton was the only answere. It was late in 2013 that we officialy rebooted Ton. We brought some of our old songs back to life and immediatly started working on new material. Ossuary Industries signed us for the release of Bow Down to Extinction and we decided to release it at the 2015 Las Vegas Deathfest. We never had a deadline like that before! So we made a conscious effort to be more streamlined and concise in our writing style for Bow Down. It came down to the wire, but we got it done, and we are very proud of the results.
Have you ever toured in USA or Europe?What was the best gig ever you played before?
With our work and family obligations we’ve never been able to tour the US, or Europe. We’ve had offers, and are hoping to make Europe happen in the future. We’ve always played where ever we could, New York, Chicago, Dallas, Vegas among others. It would be hard to pick one gig and call it the best. Some very memorable ones do come to mind. The Ohio Deathfest in 99 was amazing! An incredible line-up, and great crowd! That same year we played a fest in Dallas that was equally impressive. Most recently, the Las Vegas Deathfest 2017 was totally sick!
Actually I am really hungry for new songs from you. Do you have any new album plans?
Yes, we are very excited to be working on new material. We have five songs together with plans to record another full-length this year. Also, we are re-releasing Plague, re-mixed and re-mastered with all new artwork. It sounds and looks like a whole new disc. It is available on Nice to Eat You Records, and Rising Nemesis Records.
I think we have just dug the soil enough for an interview until now.Please can you tell the last words to Extreminal readers?
We would like to thank you and your readers for supporting brutal music! If you’ve never listened to Ton, give us a whirl. Stay brutal! Thank you!…