Ha Ha Tonka rolls into DeKalb

By Barb Lowden

Rolling out of the Ozarks of Missouri is a band with a country twang, an indie rock lure, gospel-like four part vocal harmonies and some electronic sounds mixed in. Ha Ha Tonka, named after the state park in Camdenton Mo., will play 8 p.m. Saturday at the House Cafe, 263 E. Lincoln Highway.

Ha Ha Tonka‘s innovative music style combines authentic southern music with electronic, modern sounds. How did it accomplish this? By recording its album in a 200-year-old barn, of course. And later mixing in electronic accents.

Brian Roberts, lead singer and guitar player, said that the idea to record in the barn came from seeing a friend’s band doing so with producer Kevin McMahon.

“Some friends of ours had done their record with [McMahon], and we were just kind of curious at the idea of recording in an old barn,” Roberts said. “It goes along with the whole album’s concept of combining the acoustic with the electronic.”

Ha Ha Tonka’s third studio album, Death of a Decade, was released in April. While the band’s other albums used a lot of Missouri’s folklore, carrying religious themes and southern stories, this album dives into personal issues and the struggles and fun of growing up.

In the third song on the album, “Made Example Of,” Roberts sings “They say that if you don’t change where you’re going / you’re gonna end up right where you’re headed.”

Speaking of where they are headed, Ha Ha Tonka is currently in the midst of a lengthy tour that runs through Dec. 10. Beginning Nov. 30, it will be co-headlining with Someone Still Loves You, Boris Yeltsin, who just recently paid a visit to DeKalb themselves.

Roberts said it will be a “high energy show,” when Ha Ha Tonka takes the stage at the House Cafe this Saturday,

“We want to have a good time ’cause if we’re having a good time, the audience is having a good time.