Topping the charts with a different beat

Shadbolt talks about the band's chart-topping single.

He grew up here and is a product of the Tauranga music scene. Joel Shadbolt and L.A.B is also the first band to hit the top of the Kiwi charts since Lorde's Green Light.

It’s also the first time that an independent artist has been at the top of the charts. It’s a big deal.

‘In the Air’, the band's second track off its third album spent about a month at the top of the charts.

“Our first single hitting the charts like that has had a bit of a ripple effect on our other albums, which has been pretty cool,” Joel says.

“People are now going back to listen to the earlier ones.

“When it first got released, it was right at the bottom of the charts and it's been a slow-burner getting to the top.”

Released in November, the track is the second off their third album, so new fans have a lot of earlier material to go and explore.

Joel doesn’t know why this specific single has resonated so much with people.

“It's not a pop song. It's like a vibey song with a repetitive grove that happens, kind of reminiscent of 70s music. It’s super organic, like it's a band playing in a room. That's what we've captured.”

The band wrote the song together in the studio.

“The big thing with it is the bass line. Once we had that glued in, everything else around it started to mold. It’s also not your usual form, it has kind of three verses and no chorus, so it is odd that it’s at the top of the charts, because it’s not a pop formula song.”

The band had a sold-out tour booked in May in Australia.

“We just finished our summer shows and we’re meant to start recording our fourth album in two weeks down in Wellington with the hope of having that finished by October.

“Obviously this Coronavirus is affecting artists in all walks of life, all around the world. So we don't exactly know what’s happening.”

Joel grew up in Papamoa, attending Tahatai Coast Primary School and Mount Maunganui College.

“I used to go and watch Kokomo when I was a kid. They played down at Astrolabe way back, my mum and dad used to take me down on a Sunday afternoon. I grew up in the Tauranga music scene and know most of the musos around here. They were super supportive.

Leaving school at 15, he completed music courses, culminating in three years at the NZ School of Music in Auckland.

“Then I went overseas for about a year, came home, spent some time with family and then got a phone call from Brad Kora.”

Brad – on drums, and brother Stu – on guitar and keys, founded L.A.B. They quickly engaged Joel on lead vocals and guitar and Ara Adams-Tamatea on bass, followed by Wellington keyboardist Miharo Gregory.

“Brad saw me singing, sent me a message saying he loved my voice and can I record a song, so I did, and he’s like ‘man can I have a jam’. We had a jam and he said ‘can I join the band’ and I said ‘yes’ and it just took off from there, that was 2015, about four and a half ago.”

Since their inception L.A.B. have already performed at Homegrown, Bay Dreams and One Love Festivals, supported UB40 in NZ and supported Katchafire on their 24-date Australasian tour in 2016.

Their trademark soulful rock and electronic funk is a dream mix, and as we all go into this COVID-19 lockdown, it’s the perfect time to catch up on listening to all three L.A.B albums.

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