22 Feb 2024

L.A.B perform live, discuss new album VI

From Nine To Noon, 10:05 am on 22 February 2024

After two years of writing, recording and tweaking, popular Kiwi band L.A.B has released their sixth album.

Like the previous five, the album is named in the Roman numerals of its edition, VI. 

Frontman Joel Shadbolt is on lead vocals and guitar, Miharo Gregory plays the keyboard, Stuart Kora plays the guitar and keyboard along with providing backing vocals, Ara Adams-Tamatea plays the bass and Brad Kora does backing vocals and drums.

Shadbolt, Gregory and Stuart Kora joined Kathryn Ryan in the Auckland studio.

The album VI came together slowly, Shadbolt says.

“We've spent a couple of years on this one. We usually try and smash out an album a year. But this time, we decided that we would take our time.

“Post-Covid we got to get back on the road and tour a bit more. So, we're balancing the tour life with the studio life a bit better.”

The album reflects the band’s varied musical influences, says Gregory.

L.A.B members Miharo Gregory (left), Stuart Kora and Joel Shadbolt.

Photo: RNZ

“We’re just doing what we love to do, exploring. But still, we’ve got the roots reggae in there staying true to our roots. But yeah, not afraid to kinda branch out. We all love playing different music and have been influenced by heaps of stuff.

“So, there’s folk, there’s new pop sounds, there’s reggae and a few ballads in there.”

The band like to jam ideas in the studio and let songs emerge, Stuart Kora says.

“We all go into the booth, and we will just pick up instruments, and play whatever comes to us.

“And then when we find something that really attracts us, we'll just work on that. And then we start adding all our stuff in after that, but before that, we go in with a blank canvas, we have no idea. We just jump on instruments and just feel it out."

Cover art for L.A.B's new album VI.

Photo: Supplied

The band’s massive hit ‘In the Air’ came about this way, Gregory says.

“We just got into the studio, like Stu was saying, just jammed and it kind of wrote itself within the day and we just managed to capture a vibe and wanted to press record before we forgot it.”

It was a memorable session, Shadbolt says.

“I never forget rehearsing that song for the first time. We were in the studio, and we played it three times back-to-back and then we said, ‘we've got something here’. Yeah, you could just feel it in the music.”

‘In the Air’ from the album III landed smack in the middle of Covid, Shadbolt says.

“I'll never forget being at home doing like a gazillion interviews in my T shirt and undies - because I could.

“Doing all these interviews for ‘In the Air’ and we couldn't get out and play, we couldn't do shows, it was a real weird time to become a success. You had to have a successful song.”

Now touring life is back with a bang for LAB, Gregory says.

“Last year we did the States, which was cool, first time the band’s been there, and Hawaii, and we did Europe as well.

“So, it's been awesome.”

The band has a packed schedule in the next four months with more shows in the States, Hawaii and Australia before coming home to play New Zealand in winter, Shadbolt says.

“It’s just a busy time for the band. It's just great to be back on the road and looking forward to this year.”