National | L.A.B.

L.A.B's new album sails through new genres

With the top three most-streamed tracks in New Zealand on Spotify this year and five nominations at the Aotearoa Music Awards, it's only natural that L.A.B would release another album, their fifth in five years.

For five years L.A.B have been perfecting the formula for their blend of reggae, soul, funk and blues 🧪 Now, on their fifth record, they’re throwing in country and hip-hop for good measure.

Posted by Spotify on Thursday, December 16, 2021

It's a new album with an intriguing blend. "We really dived into a few different genres from hip-hop into a country song, a bit of classical," Keyboardist Miharo Gregory says.

"I guess the inspiration is what we all grew up listening to. The method of recording, just musicians in a room, having a jam, and trying not to be afraid to try a new genre."

"We always sit down with an acoustic guitar, get the meat and potatoes of the song, and then we take it into the studio," frontman Joel Shadbolt says. "I suppose we try to create that marae-style garage-party thing."

The band's fifth album features 10 tracks with soulful slow jams like Can you Be The One, a country guitar twang in Under The Sun, and, for the first time a collaboration song with hip hop artist Kings.

"We've never done a collaboration, so it's a new territory for us to bring in another artist and his ideas," Shadbolt says. "The song is actually his song featuring L.A.B more than the other way around, so it's our honour to be jamming with the bro."

A cover song of Billy Kaui's Mr Reggae has a special place in the album, with Miharo Gregory saying that it was an important part of brothers Stu and Brad Kora's lives growing up.

"They use to listen to that, play that, and even as the band Kora they used to play that jam. Brad brought it forward one day and we thought we'd give it a crack."

Growing up, L.A.B also admired groups like Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. Their influence has inspired the artistic design of their album covers.

Yo! After LOTS of requests we are selling limited edition art prints of our five album covers! Individually numbered &...

Posted by L.A.B on Monday, December 6, 2021

"On the face of it we aren't Satanist or anything but I guess people can get the wrong impression looking into it a bit too deep," Shadbolt says. "There's lots of symbolism and lots of sitting back and looking at the world in a way that not a lot of people might see it, so we just try to shine the light on certain things in the album.

Gregory says the band has always had Māori themes and big themes in all the album artwork. "Natalie Mentor, she's a local artist. It started on the very first one and all went all the way to No. 5. She's the coolest chick, she's awesome, she sits there and she's like throwing out all these ideas, and she just knows how we roll."

Before the next live show in Wanaka for Rhythm & Alps, it's downtime with the whānau for Christmas. Joel says he is looking forward to dessert.

"Funny story. So my Nan's made pavlova since day dot and my misses, you know, she's coming to Christmas this year and she likes to cook Pavlova, so there's this kind of power of Pavlova rivalry."

Gregory says he's heading down south to Christchurch to catch up with the family and then on to RNA (Rhythm & Alps), "which is our first concert so a bit of time there, load up on food."

L.A.B's fifth album is now available on Spotify, YouTube, and music stores.

Following their Rhythm & Alps performance., the band begins their three-show tour into January with supporting acts like Katchafire and Ladi 6, to name a few. The first is in Brooklands in New Plymouth on January 8. January 15 sees them travel to Christchurch in Hagley Park, and their biggest show to date will see them play on January 22 in Auckland's Western Springs Stadium.