Ha Ha Tonka is the unmistakable indie-meets-Southern rock band comprised of Brett Anderson, Lennon Bone, Lucas Long and Brian Roberts. Sitting at the crossroads of Americana and indie- where Alabama meets Arcade Fire- the quartet are primed for the release of their highly anticipated fourth full-length album, Lessons, on September 24th via Bloodshot Records. As the title implies, the inspiration behind Lessons stems from life's biggest ones. Motivated by late illustrator and renowned children's author Maurice Sendak's musings on the creative process and what it means to be an artist, the band captured this message and the fragile, oft-irrational comedy of life in sonic form. Produced by Dan Molad (Lucius) and The Ryantist, the notion of life's immediacy is kept firmly at the forefront of Lessons. The band toys with the theme of living beyond a normal lifetime- the concept of reliving and rewriting our lives, and the lessons we can all learn along the way.
Sonically, Lessons marks a departure from Ha Ha Tonka's more stripped down style to one that is filled with lush instrumentation. Album cut 'Colorful Kids' is both bright and melancholy, the upbeat melodies belie its darker subject matter. 'Rewrite Our Lives' is an energetic cut containing a runaway chorus and rolling percussion. 'Arabella,' meanwhile, is an initially more downtempo piece with a vulnerable hesitance that gradually builds to a stomping refrain. Title track 'Lessons' is a bittersweet cut filled with buzzy, distorted electric guitar that perhaps carries the message of the album truest to form. Named after Ha Ha Tonka State Park in their native Missouri, the band has become renowned for its authentic, effortless brand of indie-Americana, seamlessly fusing the traditional with modern, contemporary elements. Having played alongside the likes of Old 97s, Murder By Death, Langhorne Slim, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Meat Puppets and more, Ha Ha Tonka will take to the road this fall on a full North American tour.
Coming straight out of Springfield, MO, Ha Ha Tonka specialize in disarming and effortless anthems that owe as much to high and lonesome Ozarks mountain music as chugging college rock.
Ha Ha Tonka? What the hell could that name possibly mean? It's a nod to the boys' Ozark pride. It's the name of a state park in southwestern Missouri, full of natural bridges, sandstone cliffs, caves and a castle. That's right, a castle. Some crackpot rich guy built himself a Scottish style castle around 1900. It burned down, but the ruins are still an attraction. Ha Ha Tonka want you all to know there is more to their home stomping grounds than Branson, walnut bowl outlet stores and Jesse James' hideout.
Out in front is Brian Roberts, a triple threat (writer, guitarist, singer) with the Jeffersonian mane of hair. Brett Anderson handles the lead guitar, mandolin and even the keyboards, and he likes tequila (well, they all do, but he's the most insistent on cadging shots out of Bloodshot Rob). Original drummer Lennon Bone is a timekeeper par excellance, and lady-killing Luke Long plays bass, swings from the rafters, takes his shirt off a lot and keeps the low end on the four parts. As with all great bands, and this is a band, the sum is greater than the parts. These dudes sing harmonies like they are brothers.
Their potent dynamic range continues to amaze us; we're not sure how a band this tight can get tighter, but they do...and it is never at the expense of energy or connection to the audience. Ha Ha Tonka will bring a room to a near boiling point, then bring it down to a hush, then blow it all up to the point where, at the end of the night, you are wore out and you're not sure why--it all happened so organically and without flash, without someone telling you "hey, this is where you go crazy." It's almost like a reflex.
The group’s relentless touring has taken them to the stages of Lollapalooza, Sundance Film Festival, SXSW, CMJ and nationally as a headlining act, as well as supporting many great bands such as Old 97s, Murder By Death, Langhorne Slim, Cross Canadian Ragweed, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Meat Puppets and more.
In 2011, Ha Ha Tonka was a guest on The Travel Channel’s flagship show, "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations." Check them out, grillin' and chillin' the finer foods of the Show Me State with AB his own bad self
Official Website: Ha Ha Tonka Online