Named after Ha Ha Tonka State Park in their native Missouri, Ha HaTonka is one of the best new bands on the southern rock/americana scene. Getting rave reiews and writeups in national magazines and websites, while touring the country relentlessly behind their new cd, “Death of a Decade”, they’ve played Lollapalooza, SXSW, Sundance Film Fest, and recently played at the ACL Festival here in Austin. “Death of a Decade” was recorded in a 200 year old barn in New Paltz, NY , with producer Kevin McMahon, and is less story based than the band’s last albums. “I realize that youth is wasted on the young,” Brian Roberts sings on “Westward Bound,” “Oh, I know that now my wasting days are done.” The music focuses on that transition into manhood. The cd is sure to make many of this year’s best of lists. The band members include Brian Roberts, Brett Anderson on guitar, Lucas Long on bass, and drummer Lennon Bone. Brian Roberts recently answered 10 questions for me.
Who are your songwriting influences?
My biggest individual songwriting influences are probably Paul Simon and Tom Petty.
When and where was your first public performance?
Gospel Hill Church of Christ 1984.
What was the first record or cd you purchased with your own money?
I think it was Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits. My Dad said it rocked. He was right.
What was the first live concert you attended?
The first one of note was probably Bush & Moby in Springfield, MO in 1998. Gavin looked amazing.
Which venue would you most like to play that you haven’t yet/ and which is your favorite venue to play?
Red Rocks in Colorado is at the top of my list. I really like playing at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.
What is the best career advice you’ve been given, and by whom?
Always believe in yourself. Thanks, Mom!
Who are you listening to now?
J. Roddy Walston and the Business
What is your best story about life on the road?
Well, this probably isn’t the “best” story of life on the road, but we partied with McLovin at an ACL after party in Austin last week. That was fun.
What recordings are available to the public and where can they be purchased?
We have 3 albums, all released on Bloodshot Records and listed from newest to oldest –
Death of a Decade
Novel Sounds of the Nouveau South
Buckle in the Bible Belt
All are available online at iTunes, Amazon, our webstore…etc, and in most record stores across the country.
When and where are you playing next?
Tonight we have a free show at Founders Brewing Co in Grand Rapids, MI, but you can find all of our tour dates at www.hahatonkamusic.com