escaping to the garage with Ha Ha Tonka

As I prepared for my first official artist interview, I realized that I had no place where I could conduct the interview without the constant threat of the interrupting foursome.  You know how it is–everyone is totally settled and content, but the moment you pick up the phone, there is something that needs your attention.  And it is always something of the life or death nature….”I can’t find my water!” “Mommy-he won’t stop smiling at me.” Really?

I was started to get seriously worried about it when the interview-saving idea hit me – I could hideout in the garage! Hence the name of my interview series (I’m being optimistic that there we will be more this one!!): escaping to the garage with….

Ha Ha Tonka comes from the hills of the Ozarks and got their name from the Missouri state park by the same name.  Their sound is unique and fresh, yet comforting and familiar at the same time.  There is a strong sense of classic Southern Rock, yet with an edge of newness.  The result is music that is foot-stomping good which will entice you to sing and dance along!

So, I sat in a folding chair, praying the foursome hadn’t perfected their hide & seek skillz (don’t worry–there was actually another adult in the house with them at all times!!).  When Brian Roberts, lead singer and guitar player for Ha Ha Tonka called, my surrounding were quickly forgotten.  If you couldn’t make it to the last Waterfront Wednesday (I tried to convince you to go!!), then you missed out on seeing his amazing smile the entire time he was performing.  And I could hear that same charismatic smile making its way through the phone.  Brian says that one of his biggest pet peeves is cynicism and I can tell why – it seems to be the opposite of  his outlook on life! Even as he describes the harsh reality of life on the road – averaging maybe 8 hours per city, often having to drive a few hours after a show to ensure they make it to the next city – he emphatically declared that he was not complaining and he felt immensely fortunate that they are able to make music for a living.

It is a long way from where Brian started.  He is from a small, rural town in Missouri where music was a constant in his life from an early age.  His parents were both musicians and he was raised in the Church of Christ, where all church music is a capella.  And that is how Brian started his singing career.  He joked that it wasn’t very good singing on his part.  I say he has gotten pretty far on ‘poor singing’!! If only we could all be so lucky with our poor singing.  He said he was about 15 or 16 before he picked up the guitar, even though his Mom really wanted Brian and his brother to try the piano.  Brian and his brother ‘won’ that battle, yet now he says (with that smile in his voice) he totally missed out because playing the piano is the sure way to get the girls. 😉  However, he was serious when talking about the regret of not learning the piano.  This next part was music to my ears…parents listen up!! Brian claims that his parents were his biggest musical influences.  They both played and encouraged Brian and his brother to follow suit. Yay…score one for parents!!

It is always fascinating to me to hear about who bands are listening to.  Brian said Arcade Fire has been on heavy rotation.  But then he got very animated when talking about J.Roddy Walston.  Both Ha Ha Tonka and J. Roddy Walston & The Business played at the Austin City Limits Festival last weekend.  Brian could not stop talking about how talented J. Roddy Walston is and how they were the ‘best unknown’ group out there. And so lucky for us, J.Roddy Walston & The Business are playing at Waterfront Wednesday tonight with the talented local group, The Deloreans, and highly recognizable, They Might Be Giants.

Brian said Ha Ha Tonka hopes to make it back to Louisville in early 2012.  I will keep you updated as I hear more because this is a genuine group that plays amazing music and you don’t want to miss them!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Amanda Fisher
    Sep 21, 2011 @ 15:02:59

    I’m so jealous that you got to talk to Brian! Ha Ha Tonka’s cd has been in heavy rotation since last Waterfront Wednesday.


  2. Trackback: pushin on with MORE giveaways!!! « last bit of sanity
  3. Trackback: My music rut has been broken! « last bit of sanity

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