A band of brothers that morphed into an actual band, folk rock outfit Ha Ha Tonka began many moons ago at the former Southwest Missouri State University, now known as Missouri State University, picked up a rowdy roster of members along the way–since then, they have toured the world, graced major festival stages, and set late night television aflame. In March, the group released ten-song stunner Heart-Shaped Mountain via Bloodshot Records; however, what began as a normal making-a-new-album-in-the-studio story endured a serious plot twist when a massive hardware crash erased their first week of recordings.
“It was a fluke incident,” recalls frontman Brian Roberts. “We were feeling pretty good about what we’d done and then we had to start over. It was one of those moments, though, where you have to use it as an opportunity—-if only to maintain sanity—to lay it out on the table, roll up our sleeves, and go into the studio and make the songs even better.” And succeed they did, after regrouping and approaching the task with a renewed sense of vigor. “I mean, I’d like to think that ‘vigor’ is the word that defines our band!” he says with a laugh. Since the beginning of March, Ha Ha Tonka has been tearing up the highways in support of the album, which features cover art created by Tennessee artist Saul Gray-Hildenbrand.“He’s an amazing artist, a phenomenal friend, and an above-average poker player,” says Roberts.
The band will perform at 3rd & Lindsley in the Music City on July 30th as part of Lightning 100’s Nashville Sunday Night live radio concert series. “We do have some interesting stories from the road so far, but nothing that’s printable. It’s all SnapChat-type shit, or whatever that app is that erases everything,” he laughs. “Nashville has a special place in my heart, though; my better half and I spent two years living in Sewanee, Tennessee; she was a professor at The University Of The South, and we spent lots of time in Nashville on the weekends,” he explains. “Heart-Shaped Mountain is loosely based on our time living in Tennessee. I even have a Tennessee driver’s license in my pocket as we speak! Playing there can be tough,” he adds. “It’s an industry town, everybody and their cousin expects to be on the guest list. I don’t know if anyone’s ever paid for a show in Nashville,” he says with a laugh. “It’s Music City though. You have to make it happen. It’s going to be a good time, a bunch of my friends are planning to come,” Roberts adds of the band’s upcoming Nashville show. “And they’ll probably all expect to be on the guest list.”
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