Live in Chicago: Ha Ha Tonka


words by Meredith Tucker
photos by Susana Meza

For our first live in-studio session at Engine Studios in Chicago, Ha Ha Tonka offered a boisterous live set straight from the Ozarks. Named for a local wilderness reservation, Ha Ha Tonka’s performance was equally wild – if this is how Ha-Ha Tonka play “when no one is watching,” then catching their live set with the Meat Puppets when they come through your city this fall is a no-brainer. If you missed their set full of songs about the plight of humankind delivered through strong male vocal harmonies, you can go back on our fourteen day Streaming Archive.

Luckily, I was able to chat briefly with Luke Long (bass), Lennon Bone (drums), Brett Anderson (guitar/piano), and Brian Roberts (guitar). The band, formerly called Amsterband, have been together for three and a half years and recorded their latest release in an abandoned church converted in a studio outside of St Louis.

Ha Ha Tonka sat down briefly to talk about their songwriting process, their sound, and their new record, Buckle in the Bible Belt, on Chicago’s own Bloodshot Records.

Brett: We don’t listen to it a lot except for when we’re playing it which is just about every day.

Brian: One thing I’m most proud of about the record is that we tried to make it live as possible, we can produce everything we did on the record at a live setting. If you listen to a live show and then buy the record, this is what they sound like live.

Luke: …Just super tight

Brett: We all just sort of morph an idea into a song.

Brian: There’s just a general consensus, you know when it’s reached the point it needs to be at, otherwise it’s just not there and it’s just not good, everybody has to approve.

Lennon: I think that’s getting better and better the more that we do it, at first it was more a harder thing to get in to that mind set. I think St Nick that we really wrote in that manner. It’s easier to talk to each other and –

Luke: – It’s an open discussion.

Lennon: We only try to do what we’re good at, we don’t try to overstep our boundaries. Obviously we want to push ourselves, but we never want to try so hard to where something just isn’t comfortable. We don’t really need a lot of crazy licks or anything like that, we feel like vocally that’s our strong point that we sing together and we just try to highlight that.






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  1. Audrey
    Posted October 3, 2007 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    Hey Cheryl,
    Who’s the cutie on the left with the shaggy hair? Hook me up yo!

  2. Maggie
    Posted October 3, 2007 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    The pics are great! I feel like I’m right there in the studio.

  3. martie
    Posted October 7, 2007 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    A great set! Lovin’ me some Ha Ha Tonka…

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