Interview with TON guitarist / vocalist Dan Gates by Andrew Parrish early January 2019Ö

I've been a fan of Ton for a long, long time. I picked up their Point of View CD back at the end of my high school days, and Dan sent me a copy of Plague for review after it had come out for the second time on Plagued Records (the first was on United Guttural Records), when I planned on interviewing them way back the second issue of my old 'zine Metal Union. They were really the only ones I can recall other than Regurgitation playing brutal, technical death metal in those days in the area, and they've always had my utmost respect for their talent and their lack of compromise stylistically. It was an honor to do time in some bands with the musicians that make up Ton; I played with them in National Collapse and Riphead, and Kevin brought me in to sing for The Rut for a time. None of these projects reached the level Ton has attained, but it was a great time nonetheless. Ton has recently been on a tear, releasing their most recent album to general acclaim, and they've put out a single for "Manzanar" which serves as quite the preview for the upcoming record they are tracking right now. They take a lot of time to hammer new stuff out, but we get quality death metal as our reward for waiting. I urge everyone to check out their Bandcamp page (http://tonohio.bandcamp.com) and get their shit if you're intro brutal death metal. What follows is an interview I did with my friend Dan Gates (guitars) from Ton, where I was trying to pry loose some details on the new record and also dig deeper into what makes this band tick.... - Andrew Parrish

 

Greetings Dan! How are things in the Ton camp today?

Everything is going well! Writing new music and having a good time doing it!

I know you're recording a new album. How is that progressing? Can you tell us anything about it yet? Will the new single that came out a while back be a part of the album, or was that a one-off?

We originally planned to release the new album in 2018. But it always seems to take longer than planned! I know everybody says this but I am confident this is our best yet! The music is really intense and we are really happy about the new songs. The single Manzanar will be on the new album.

How has the response been to the last album, Bow Down to Extinction? How have the reviews been? I know I gave it a good one, but have you had any other feedback come in?

We had a lot of positive feedback when we released it. We had quite a few great reviews of it. Itís available on youtube, Spotify and all of those other places you can stream music.

What's the best part of Ton's second run?

I think we appreciate to be able to do it more than we did in the 90ís. We all kept very active during the years that TON was not active. So weíre better musicians than we were then. Our number one goal is to have a good time! We donít sweat the small stuff. We do our best to create the best music we can and have fun doing it! So having fun with my two best friends is the best part!

I know you well, so I could probably answer this one, but for those readers who are interested, what are your biggest musical influences, both individually and as a band?

Early on we were influenced by 80ís thrash and early 90ís death metal. Weíre still influenced by heavy brutal music obviously! But weíve been playing so long that weíre just always trying to improve as musicians and to trying to create something heavy but interesting. I think thatís part of the reason a lot of our riffs have a lot going on. We get bored easy. I like to think that we are able to have a bit of originality in a genre that is very difficult to be original. Weíre not going to repeatedly go jun jun junjunjun then fast right hand single notes. We like to create riffs that have a little more to them than that typical death metal style. Although we are trying to maintain a death metal sound. Weíre just trying to have some originality. Iíve been told we do that, and I think we succeed at that.

How do you balance being in such an active band with regular life? I mean, it's not possible to be brutal as fuck all the time.

You just have to be committed to making it work. We do most of our practicing and learning of the songs at home. Then we get together once a week to put it all together. Luckily Iím in a band with two other guys that are as committed as I am. Jeff and Kevin are both married. Kevin has 4 kids. I have a son. Itís just been a part of our lives for so long we donít know anything else. We try to be flexible on the practice schedule so it works for all of us. You donít have to be brutal as fuck all the time! You just have to be prepared to be brutal as fuck when the time comes!

What albums are you listening to right now?

I rarely listen to anything but metal. I still listen to albums I listened to 30 years ago. But I also still love discovering new bands too. Some bands that have been in my rotation: Psycroptic, Limbsplitter, Serocs, Euphoric Defilement, Defaced, Svart Crown, Kronos, Cancerous Womb, Necrotic Disgorgement, Cognitive, Carnal Decay, Polyptych, Volturyon, I could ramble on but I wonít!

Is there a particular process Ton goes through to write songs these days?

Jeff and I write and record our own riffs. Then we get together and start arranging them on the computer. The songs usually end up about 50% Jeffs riffs and 50% my riffs. We arrange the riffs into a song then we send it to Kevin. After the 3 of us start to get the riffs worked out on our own we learn the song as a band. We do sometimes make changes. The original arrangement is not set in stone. Arranging the riffs on the computer speeds up the process and gives us all something to practice to at home. But it all still needs to be hashed out as a band!

How have your ideas about death metal changed over the years?

My idea of death metal really hasnít changed much. I still love it and playing in a death metal band is still a lot of fun for me! Obviously I donít love every band out there but there are a lot of great bands. The talent level and the diversity in metal has never been greater. Rather than bitch about the things I donít like Iíd rather find something I do like! If something sucks thereís a good chance that with a few clicks you can find something that doesnít suck!

If there was one thing you could do with Ton, what would it be? What's on the band's list of things to accomplish before you die (or are murdered and dismembered...)?

Tour Europe! I have no desire to go there as a tourist but I would love to go play there.

What's "unnecessary jamminí"?

Our former guitar player Paul came up with that as far as I know. If a guitar player was wanking around with some bullshit or a band was playing some stupid cover we called it unnecessary jammin. Itís kind of like when someone is just playing some shit you couldnít care less about.

Have you heard any totally shit albums lately that you want to warn us about?

Well, there are definitely some bullshit albums out there! Iím not one to mention names in an interview but yeah! I hear shit all the time that sounds exactly like a million other bands. If youíre just rehashing what a million other bands have done whatís the point? Maybe thatís fun for some people. I do prefer a little originality or at least an effort to somehow stand out from the crowd. But what the fuck do I know? I see bands that I donít care for getting lots of praise and attention all the time. Everyone has their own taste and opinion.

I might be beating a dead horse with this one, since I always bug you about it, but do you have any plans to re-release the older demos, like What Is Heavy or Crushing Design? I'd buy that shit instantly.

I sent the old DAT tapes off to Mr. Cassette in Texas today (January 7, 2019). Iím hoping they are still good and we can get those songs converted to wav files so we can decide if were going to do anything with them. I would really like to make Crushing Design available. Our first demo What Is Heavy Iím not too sure about. I havenít heard those songs in a very long time so Iím not sure if we want those out there or not.

Tell us a good story from Ton's past. I might know it already, but the readers probably donít!

The first time we went to New York City to play we got a police escort into the city. Sort of! Haha! Dehumanized brought us in for a show. We were headed to George Torres place. We were almost into the city but we didnít know which way to go. This was before gps. Even though we had a few beers on the way and there might have been a funny smell in the van we asked a cop that was pulled off the side of the road. He explained the directions to us. He could tell we had no idea what he was talking about. So he said follow me! Turned on his lights and took off. He was switching lanes and drove over the dividers. The springy ones that bounce back up. We laughed our asses off! Then he pulled over and waved us on. We still laugh about our police ďescortĒ! There was also a time a drunk scantily clad girl fell off of a bar but Iíll save that for next time!

Alright, that's about it for this one, feel free to drop names, give thanks, tell people to fuck off, or just generally insult us.

Thanks for the interview and FUCK OFF!!

http://tonohio.bandcamp.com

https://tonohio.bandcamp.com/

 

 


The TON Discography 

What Is Heavy? Demo, 1993

Crushing Design Demo, 1994

Point Of View Demo, 1995

Blind Follower Demo, 1997

Blind Follower / Point Of View Compilation, 1998

Demos Compliation CD, 2013

Plague Full-length, 1999

Bow Down To Extinction Full-length, 2015

Manzanar Single, 2018

 

 


 

 

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