Ha Ha Tonka is a rock band from Missouri with a sound influenced by life in the Ozarks. We recently had guitarist and vocalist Brian Roberts on the phone for an interview, because we wanted to find out his thoughts on Bloodshot Records, the value of buying music, and getting through a personal run-in with cancer and the American healthcare system.
Here’s a transcript of our interview, along with the Soundcloud link below for your listening pleasure.
Who: Brian Roberts; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach
When: Thursday July 16th, 2015
How: via phone
Note: This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
K: So Brian, how do you like being part of Bloodshot Records and that family over there?
B: Well I’m glad you used the word family. That’s basically what it is. I mean really we’ve been with Bloodshot since we started doing this professionally, since 2007. So yeah, we love all those guys. They’re the smartest people in the industry and just a great label to be a part of. We’ve been really fortunate to grow our band with them as our main supporters.
K: Are there any other bands on their client list that you’re following pretty closely?
B: Yeah, the Banditos are really having a great year. They’ve had such great acts in the past, like you know some of our favorite records, and I think can speak collectively for the band too. Ryan Adams‘ Heartbreaker came out on Bloodshot, and I wore that album out listening to it so many times. Justin Townes Earle was on the label recently and put out a couple great records. Of course the Old 97’s earlier on. They’ve had so many good acts, I could just talk about them all day. Bobby Bare, Jr. There’s some phenomenal acts on Bloodshot.
K: Cool. Well you’re in good company. You know the music business is an interesting thing, it’s always changing. I was wondering what your thoughts are on some of the recent trends in the music business, including the infinite access to music that people have.
B: Well you know I don’t…obviously it would be great if people still bought records the way they did in the 90’s or anytime prior to that. I don’t hold out any hope that that will come back. So I am thankful that we are a touring band, and the touring side of things hasn’t changed. We generate most of our income from the touring side of what we do. When it comes to the debate over streaming services or digital downloads, or any of the Napster or post-Napster stuff that’s gone on, really that’s just technology. And I don’t know if the music industry was ready for the onslaught like some of the other digital industries were, whether that be gaming or movies or the film industry. I don’t know. I don’t really know how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t make me sound like an asshole. I love that people can go online and check out a band—check out our band—and not have to pay for it right away. But the problem I think comes into the fact that people then never pay for your music. Or rarely do. Or there’s probably a whole generation that doesn’t think that music costs anything. And I think Bloodshot’s tried to educate people, Nan Warshaw has spoke on it several times about how not buying a record from a band like the Banditos or the 97’s 25 years or 20 years ago would have meant they got less money for next time they want to make a record. Less tour support. They get less of everything.
K: Yeah I agree with some of the things you pointed out, especially I believe that maybe the next generation of music consumers doesn’t even expect to pay for music.
Q: What do you get when you put four funny dudes in the same room to talk about music? A: Quite the entertaining interview.
Wheelhouse is a four piece Americana/Bluegrass band keeping the red dirt style going hard in Madison. The energy at their live shows is infectious—on Tuesdays at the Come Back In, they’re met with cheery beer-drinking patrons who dance, stomp, and hoot n’ holler a bit too. Now Wheelhouse is releasing a new album called Meanwhile Back At The Ranch, with promises to deliver a sound as ear-catching as their live gigs. Their CD release party is Saturday March 28th at High Noon Saloon with Wisconsin reggae-rockers T.U.G.G.
In this short interview, the Wheelhouse guys talk music, the changing industry for fans and musicians, and of course—whiskey!
Pre-order Meanwhile Back At The Ranch ($10) ► email firstname.lastname@example.org!
Who: Kenny Leiser, Frank Busch, Nic Adamany and Mark Noxon; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach What: How musicians make a living, those first music purchases, and the glorious power of Wheelhouse Whiskey Where: Murfie HQ, Madison When: Friday, March 20th, 2015 How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach File:mp3 version
Murfie’s platform enables customers to stream their physical music CDs and vinyl conveniently from the cloud to browsers, mobile devices and wifi connected home stereo systems, at up to lossless and hi-res quality. Murfie customers can also download their music in FLAC, ALAC, mp3 and aac, and instantly add new and used music to their cloud collection from the Murfie marketplace.
Kayla manages social media and customer support at Murfie. You can hear her on the radio hosting U DUB, the reggae show, Wednesdays on WSUM. She enjoys hosting the Murfie podcast, cooking, traveling, going to concerts, and snuggling with kittycats.
Preview First Aid Kit will be releasing their third studio album, conveying an echoey Americana sound that lovers of indie folk will undoubtedly enjoy. The band is a duo of two sisters from Sweden, born in 1990 and 1993—yet at this young age, the two girls already have a ton of experience under their belt. Their talent has sparked the interest of Jack White, and also Conor Oberst from Bright Eyes, indicating that they have something ear-catching in the works. Check out the links below to hear our take on the upcoming release, along with some teasers—and don’t forget to pre-order your own copy!
It’s Halloweeeen time! Even though it’s not the 31st, it’s safe to say that many folks will be celebrating the year’s spookiest holiday this weekend.
Our staffers have some great Halloween album picks for you, along with great stories to share (with pictures)!
Name: Gao Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Thriller (by Michael Jackson) has always been a favorite. In fact, my family did the Thriller dance at my sister’s wedding reception. Best Halloween costume ever: My sisters made me a dinosaur costume one year. They even built a tail! I stomped around and called myself Gaozilla. What I plan to dress up as this year: This is the first year I’ve bought a costume and didn’t make it. I’ll be a pirate. ARGH!
Name: Daniella Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas by Danny Elfman. Best Halloween costume ever: Nerd costumes have included Companion Cube (from Portal), Cthulhu, Harry Potter, and more nerdiness… What I plan to dress up as this year: This year I’m going as Lumpy Space Princess (assuming I can find myself a purple beehive wig).
Name: Tiffany Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Bloodletting by Concrete Blonde. Best Halloween costume ever: It’s a toss-up between Poison Ivy, Medusa, and a dead woman. I don’t have a digital picture of any of those, but I’ve got a picture of my costume as the Moon a few years back. What I plan to dress up as this year: Not sure yet. And even if I knew, I never reveal my costumes before Halloween.
Name: Zach Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Scary Sound Effects (because I remember ripping it). Best Halloween costume ever: Rorschach because I have a mask with an ink blot that warps because of the temperature of your breathing vs. the cold air. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’ll probably hand out candy.
Name: John Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Litanies of Satan by Diamanda Galàs (Close second: Schrei X). Best Halloween costume ever: A few years ago, my band Fambly Fun! performed a Halloween show as Will Smith. That’s right, we had FIVE Will Smiths. We played all the classics from Big Willie Style and Willennium, and even Willow Smith’s then-new “Whip My Hair.” It was a ton of fun. What I plan to dress up as this year: I like to dress up as something timely, yet unexpected. Last year, I dressed up as the Russian feminist punk rock protest band Pussy Riot. This year, who knows!
Name: Steve Favorite album for fall/Halloween:John Denver, classic fall Americana. Best Halloween costume ever: I went as a Power Ranger when I was about 9. I had a glove that makes karate chop noises when you squeezed the thumb to the rest of the fingers. It was sooooo freaking cool. What I plan to dress up as this year: The Man in the Yellow Hat. My girlfriend is going as Curious George.
Name: Noah Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Halloween’s all about the movies, right? And what’s a better combination than Bernard Herrmann’s unforgettable scores to Alfred Hitchcock’s most terrifying movies. Best Halloween costume ever: I went as Sally Bowles from Cabaret, but the makeup ended up looking a bit like Malcolm McDowell from A Clockwork Orange. It kind of worked anyway. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’m thinking of going as a Mondrian painting, but I have a habit of changing my mind at the last minute.
Name: Matt Favorite album for fall/Halloween:Watermark by Enya (music for relaxing until Halloween is over). Best Halloween costume ever: I’ll be the party pooper in the group and go on the record that I’ve never really enjoyed dressing up for Halloween—not as a kid, and certainly not as an adult. I find it a bit disturbing that Halloween has become a bigger draw for adults than children. If Halloween need be celebrated at all, at least let the kids regain the run of things. What I plan to dress up as this year: I’m not planning to dress up again this year, for obvious reasons.
Name: Marc Favorite album for fall/Halloween:The Good, the Bad & the Queen. Meticulously somber, strolling music for when chill winds throw leaves past your feet. Best Halloween costume ever: A few years over the past decade I’ve iterated a costume inspired by a recurrent nightmare I used to have. I once made a bellhop at the Concourse jump back as I crept along the street. What I plan to dress up as this year: Probably no costume, since I probably won’t have the time to put into making one.
Name: Preston Favorite album for fall/Halloween:October Project:) Best Halloween costume ever: My best? That was Satan working to recruit a manager ready to to Sell Their Soul to get in “Below Ground Level!!” managing the exclusive franchise I had just negotiated to open a line of Starbucks cafes in The 9th Circle of Hell. My pitch was that it’s “…the only place in the universe where another Starbucks can possibly improve the neighborhood.” It was a play on a joke in this animation, but you might want to watch the whole set for context. What I plan to dress up as this year: It’ll be a game day decision. One possibility is that I’ll dress in a suit with a giant American flag lapel clip holding a pacifier on a red, white, and blue ribbon, with “I <3 Ayn Rand” stenciled on an Elephant on a T-shirt underneath. I’ll blackmail people into giving me some of their candy by threatening to do something that would embarrass us both. If they foolishly give me candy, I’ll come back later, scream and cry loud enough to be heard that they have way too much candy, and whine that they won’t negotiate with me to meet me part way and give me some of the rest. Ideally, this will be a team costume and include someone who plays the world’s tiniest violin each time I don’t get what I want. If things go poorly for them, I might also just go as The Ghost of The Republican Party, or conversely if democrats cooperate in sacking the poor, I might be an old person looking for information on which cat food tastes best.
Name: Leah Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Something about Nick Drake is just perfect for an autumn stroll. Best Halloween costume ever: A tie between Pam from the Office (I found Jim on State St!) and a Frenchman (fake cigarette, I promise). Oh and I went as an old woman when I was in second or third grade, which was hilarious. What I plan to dress up as this year: A flower :D I found directions for an awesome DIY flower headpiece thing online, and my rest of the body will be the stem – a “Leahlac”, you might say.
Name: Tyler Favorite album for fall/Halloween:For Emma, Forever Ago by Bon Iver. An album to listen to bundled up with your favorite blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Best Halloween costume ever: Don’t know what the name of the costume is, but I was dressed as a headless guy who was carrying his own head in his hands and the head was my head. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a picture :(
What I plan to dress up as this year: I’ll be handing out candy this year, so no dressing up for me. But our two dogs will be dressed in Packer uniforms!
Name: Kayla Favorite album for fall/Halloween: Anything with The Monster Mash. Best Halloween costume ever: Probably last year when I was a strawberry, since I made the costume by myself. The only thing is, everyone thought I was a watermelon—even though I had yellow seeds! =\ Some other notable costumes: Esmeralda, Avril Lavigne, and Zombie Tinkerbell. What I plan to dress up as this year:Amy Winehouse (I bought a wig!). I’ll have fake tattoos, thick eyeliner, an empty bottle of Jack, and all that good stuff. My roommate and I are planning on having a séance for her on the 31st.
Big thank you to all the moms who had fun picking out pictures for this post! Have a fun and safe Halloween, everyone!
It’s easy to get hooked on the sweet harmonies sung by Paper Bird, and it’s fun to flow with the rich instrumental layers in their music. With their “joyful blend of folk, roots, and Americana“, this seven-piece band from Colorado is quickly rising to the top. Here’s an interesting interview with the band’s percussionist, Mark Anderson.
Who: Mark Anderson; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach What: Mark discusses Paper Bird, the new album Rooms, Colorado, Red Rocks, guilty pleasure pop music, Justin Bieber getting boo’ed, and more Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI When: Friday, May 31st, 2013 How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach File: mp3 version
The David Mayfield Parade is making quite a stir in the music scene. With over 200 shows a year, a die-hard fan base, and support from renowned bands like The Avett Brothers, only good things are to come for this rootsy Americana band.
Who:David Mayfield; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach What: David chats about traveling, the new album, Paul Simon, and booze. Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI When: Wednesday, February 27th, 2013 How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach File:mp3 version
Find music by The David Mayfield Parade in our shop.
According to The Simpkin Project’s facebook page, they play a “multi-faceted blend of reggae and Americana that varies greatly on its exterior layers but only atop the organic rhythms of reggae music.” Let’s see what the band mates say in person!
Who: Shawn Taylor and Phil Simpkin; interviewed by Kayla Liederbach What: The guys of The Simpkin Project talk about roots reggae and the new directions it can take Where: Murfie HQ, Madison, WI When: Friday, December 14, 2012 How: Recorded by Kayla Liederbach File:WAV version