For years, I believed the guys in Ha Ha Tonka had named their band after their hometown in Arkansas.
Boy howdy, was I wrong.
A fan of the band since I first heard Death of a Decade, the group’s 2011 release, it was only recently that I learned that, in fact, they were not named after their hometown. Best I can tell, there isn’t even a town in Arkansas called Ha Ha Tonka.
Instead, the group’s moniker comes from Ha Ha Tonka State Park, a gem of an outdoors destination in the band’s home state of Missouri (not Arkansas). Midwest fans of this magazine, if they haven’t already, should check out the caving and climbing, fifteen miles of trails, lake, and stone ruins of an early 20th century castle built by Kansas City businessman Robert Snyder, that can be found in the park.
Ha Ha Tonka is out on the road now to celebrate the release of their brand new record, Heart-Shaped Mountain. I recently caught up with the band’s bass player, Lucas Long, to chat about what he and his mates in Ha Ha Tonka do when they have the chance to go outside and play.
BRO – How do you work on outside time when you are on the road?
LL – Day off/shits off. We try to take advantage of whatever natural wonders there are to be had on off days.
BRO – Other than the obvious – tent, sleeping bag, etc. – what is your must have piece of gear when you head out camping?
LL – My Black Diamond head lamp. I take it everywhere with me.
BRO – I hear you do a bit of road cycling. Finish this sentence in five words or less. When I put on lycra, I look . . .
LL – . . . good.
BRO – Favorite trail food?
LL – Beef jerky. If there’s not protein, it’s not for me.
BRO – During a visit to Ha Ha Tonka State Park, what is a must visit site?
LL – The natural bridge is just gorgeous. Just pick a direction and start walking. You’ll find some beauty.
BRO – Most harrowing outdoor experience?
LL – A buddy and I tried to back country bike to a mountain peak outside of Sisters, Oregon. We thought we would be back to the car in twelve hours. Three days later, we emerged on the other side of the mountain and hitchhiked back to town.
BRO – Favorite sippin’ drink for around the campfire?
LL – Buffalo Trace. Whiskey always tastes good, but it’s even better when taken outdoors.
Ha Ha Tonka is soaking up all the musical revelry that is SXSW this week. The band will be all over Austin for the next few days before heading to the Pacific Northwest and gigs in Washington and Oregon and then shows in California and Nevada.
And be sure to take a listen to Ha Ha Tonka’s “All With You,” along with other brand new tracks from artists like Colin Hay, Sunny Sweeney, Will Johnson, The Kernal, and many more on this month’s Trail Mix.
Featured image by Jason Gonulsen.