Light of the Stereo

Light of the Stereo

Monday, November 25, 2013

10 Questions: Lennon Bone of Ha Ha Tonka

With the release of their fourth and latest album Lessons and an extensive US tour in support, the Midwest sweethearts Ha Ha Tonka have been busy.
Thankfully drummer Lennon Bone was able to take some time out of his busy schedule to tell us about the new album and answer our questions.
When your done with reading the interview check out the our review of the new record.

BLS: You have recently released your fourth studio album Lessons. How has the band changed artistically over the last few albums and how did it affect the songs on this record?

LB: I think more than anything, we've just done this for enough years that we seemed to finally find our footing when it came to putting all of the pieces together. Huge nods have to be given to the producers, Dan Molad and The Ryantist, as well. When we went to the two of them, we knew we wanted to make a record that felt fully produced, and just wanted to try new things in the studio, so that's what we did. I think all of the effort we've put into the last 3 albums allowed us the chance to just do what we know how to do, and let the producers help shape the songs in new ways. It was an absolute blast seeing it all come together.

BLS: With and album titled Lessons; what lessons did you learn with this album and were there any pitfalls you were able to avoid this time around?

LB: I'm not sure what we've learned, lesson wise, with this album. Most of the lessons were from all of our previous experiences. There's so much that goes into releasing an album, much more than just recording. So, we're still bound to learn a few things as this one gains more momentum. As far as pitfalls, I guess we were able to avoid any major disagreements with each other on this record. It all just came together really easily.

BLS: What do you enjoy the most about the new album?

LB: The sonic structure of it. There's so much detail put into tones and phrasing. I love that from song to song, each has its own aural personality, beyond just chords and rhythms. Bass tones are different, different drums, guitars and vocal effects. It really feels like we've graduated to a new place.

BLS: Lessons, is the latest album released on your long time label Bloodshot Records. What is it about this Chicago indi-label that has encouraged your long-term relationship with them?

LB: Well, for one, we signed a contract. Ha. And two, they keep us boozed up when we see them. Very important factors. In all seriousness, they're really making some hard moves for this record to get out there, and we're super grateful for that. Good people, them bloodshot folks.

BLS: There is always talk of the regional aspect of music (like Southern Rock). Do you feel that there is a recognizable Midwest sound? If so, how does your band fit in to that musical pallet?

LB: I don't think there is anymore. If there was, people started ripping it off and making it their own thing, which is what we all do as musicians. I hear a lot of Kansas City bands taking the indie rock sound that's coming out of Brooklyn and making their own thing out of it, etc. There's really no regional separation between sounds anymore, since everything is at everyone's fingertips all the time. And to me, that's great. Music is just music, and it feels like we're seeing genres start to bleed together more than ever.

BLS: In your opinion, what are some pivotal Midwest bands that have influenced, or helped define your band’s sound?

LB: I'm not sure who helped define our sound in the Midwest. There are many bands that have helped us along the way, like Big Smith, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin and Murder by Death, just to name a select few. It's tough to narrow down or distinguish who exactly is responsible for helping define our sound, as I'm sure we've pulled from a ton of influences individually as well as collectively.

BLS: As an independent band the key is always getting your name out there and your music heard. You’ve worked with companies like Marlboro and recently were interviewed for Elle. Have you found that these unique outlets have provided you with avenues for new audiences?

LB: Oh, I'm sure they have! The weird thing about the industry now is that it's really tough to tell exactly where people are hearing you. We feel very fortunate to have worked with some of these people and companies, but we also just do as much as we can and hope that all the content helps expand the options for people to find us. It's very rare that we turn down any type of press opportunity.

BLS: Having taken your band’s moniker from the State Park of the same name, what is it about this Missouri location that’s garnered such honors? Does the band have a favorite part of the park they like visiting?

LB: We initially decided on the name for a couple of reasons. 1. It wasn't taken. Very important these days. 2. It was unique, and a part of the Ozarks. We've always been very proud of where we're from, and we love having the opportunity to pair ourselves with it in a way that we can talk about it when we talk about ourselves.
We all love visiting the castle there, although there are many beautiful areas of the park. If you're in the area, you should definitely check it out.

BLS: You’re touring in support of the new album. Do you have any good stories from the road?

LB: Nothing too crazy from this tour so far.... but we're pretty early on in the album cycle. If you could check back in a few weeks, I'm sure there would be a few. Or at least some that we'd have to keep off the record. Ha.

BLS: Name 5 bands you love but who few people have heard of?


Luke Temple

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin


The Spring Standards

Antennas Up

From the Shelf: Ha Ha Tonka - Lessons (2013)

Ha Ha Tonka
Bloodshot Records

The flowing rustic sound of Ha Ha Tonka’s latest album is distinct in its audio presence. Traversing between spaciously simple songs and thickly complex tunes, this album is a perfect example of the rich nature of mid-west soul-rock.

Speaking volumes of drummer Lennon Bone and bassist Luke Long’s symbiotic playing relationship is the chugging, danceable rhythm of this album. Making for a wonderfully stable foundation the beat and groove of this album is filled with playfully energetic tracks like “Staring at the End of our Lives,” that allow for the freedom of  creativity of the rest of the band to run wild . Even in the melodically sedate “Arabella” the power of the rhythm section is undeniable.

With an ebb and flow of a perfect album the boys of Ha Ha Tonka have succeeded in creating a sonic masterpiece. The lyrical landscapes the band present on this album are currently relevant and yet still have an understanding of the worn edged blue collared sensibility that rests at the heart of this nation of ours. From urban hipsters to the dusty highway nomads, Lessons has a broad range of appeal that makes it a wonderful addition to any music collection.

Cure for the Mondays: Fake Club - "Beauty Queen"

Fake Club - "Beauty Queen"

Just something fun to get you through your Monday.

These ladies from the UK are all about the rock 'n' roll and having fun doing it. They might describe themselves as the Spice Girls with instruments but Fake Club have more power to them than pop.