"We agreed from the get-go that this was not to be a serious endeavor," said singer Darren Burgfeld. "Rather, it was to be an outlet for our need to act stupid and make people laugh."
The origins of the Tone Def All-Stars can be traced from the band Cataphasia, current band members Darren Burgfeld, vocals and trombone, and Ron Ruppel, drums, were both members of this defunct band. Original Tone Def All-Stars bassist Pat Koetting was also a member of Cataphasia.
Along with Darrel Chad on guitar and vocals the band came together at an open-mic night at Jeremiah's one night early in 2000. Bryan Davidson was added on guitar soon after. Koetting left the band last fall, whereupon Sam Godwin joined and took over bass duties. Davidson has also since left the group.
"It actually began as more of a joke than anything else. I would sit and make up lyricsÖand if we were lucky enough to be recording that night, we could do that song again," said Burgfeld. "We started Tone Def as more of a relief from not singing and playing on a regular basis. That, and as a way to encourage people to buy us Jagermeister."
"After that, it was pretty easy," said drummer Ruppel on the band's origins. "We'd play and people had a good time."
"When we first got started, it was almost insulting how rude we could be sometimes, and yet the people just laughed it all off. There is something to be said for the power of song," added Burgfeld.
A Tone Def All-Stars show could be described as almost sketch-comedy at times; listening to some of the band members talk about on-stage events brings to mind an "Animal House" type atmosphere.
"There was this one time at the Rude Dog Pub, I drank so much that I fell off my drumset and passed out," said Ruppel.
Predictably, Burgfeld is able to remember a lot more from the band's shows.
"There was the time we set our Jager shot record at Our House for Charles' birthday," he said. "We only played two hours and had like sixteen shots...each. Ow."
"I remember last summer when Ron came back from his sabbatical to the Pacific Northwest with a value pack of adult diapers, which we wore for the Saturday night show during the City of Roses Music Festival," said Burgfeld. "For the record, they aren't as absorbent as they make themselves out to be."
"And there was the time that Ron made fun of a guy's hat at Jeremiah's and he hit Ron," continued Burgfeld. "We're still gunning for that guy..."
The Tone Def All-Stars play rock and roll, with Ruppel describing their sound as "fart jokes." "I'd say the sound would be bad," he concluded.
The band's fans are also admirers of all of the crazy things that happen on stage.
"Sometimes the word spectacle would be more appropriate," said Cole Windler, who has known many of the band members from before they were in Tone Def All-Stars. "A number of bands in this area don't possess the charisma that these people have. Laughing can be just as important as an amazing bridge or a brilliant chord progression."
Windler has also taken notice of things on stage such as a "man-thong," "white boy rap stylings," and "stopping play for Jager some ten to twenty odd times."
Despite all of the fun and crazy on-stage antics, the Tone Def All-Stars will be disbanding following their show August 22 at Breakaway's. The reason has more to do with job situations and theft than any differences between the members.
"I had our entire PA system stolen from my house April 24th, which put a damper on our ability to play out for a while," said Burgfeld. "Then, in June, I decided to take a job with Emergenza [in the music industry] in Dallas, Texas. The guys staying here have decided to let Tone Def go."
"Darrel, Ron, Sam, everyone of these guys has been a longtime friend, and it's almost like losing family," said Burgfeld.
The band is also grateful for the support that they've received from their fans.
"What were you thinking," said Ruppel. "Have you heard our music? On a serious note, thanks. Without the fans, we'd be nothing."
"I think that there will be a lot of lost souls when the Church of Tone Def closes next month," said Burgfeld with a laugh. "I can't say enough about all of the support that we've received from everybody. There is a lot of love in this town, and we never felt unwelcome or uncomfortable around anyone. There is nothing like standing in front of dozens of people and hearing them sing along to what you have created."
"I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of people that I haven't seen in some time that have said they will be there," said Burgfeld of the band's last show. "It's kind of like a family reunion, you know?"
"I'm ready for Tone Def All-Stars to end. We've had a good run," said Ruppel.
"I am thankful to everyone who has supported us through the years, either by buying us beer and Jagermeister shots, taking our ribbing with a grain of salt or simply singing along," said Burgfeld.
The band's final show will be on August 20 at Breakaway's with Lojic. Diapers and a propensity for alcohol consumption are not required for attendance.