When musicians join forces amazing things can happen, but the magic comes when those creatives can connect on more than the obvious musical level.

That kind of vibing is something many musicians can take a lifetime to achieve but for Bay music heavyweights L.A.B, it has been an effortless process.

L.A.B, which is a name that simply stems from being a group of creatives working on their crafts in a laboratory, may be a relatively new band but its members are anything but.

"It doesn't mean anything really it's just the idea of a laboratory," said Brad Kora, who makes up one fourth of L.A.B.


"Like doctors in a laboratory," he joked.

Made up of seasoned musicians and performers including Kora brothers Brad and Stu, lead vocalist Joel Shadbolt and former Katchafire bassist Ara Adams-Tamatea, it's no surprise the L.A.B lads seamlessly gel on stage.

We just write what we want to play.

But it's their drive, love for their work and their connection off stage, the members say, that will give them the longevity they seek.

Brad said having a brotherly connection off stage was vital because of the amount of time the band spent together.

L.A.B members (from left) Stu Kora, Joel Shadbolt and Ara Adams-Tamatea and Brad Kora. Photo / Andrew Warner
L.A.B members (from left) Stu Kora, Joel Shadbolt and Ara Adams-Tamatea and Brad Kora. Photo / Andrew Warner

They get together at least once a week at Brad's gym, the Whakatane MMA Centre, for rehearsal sessions that can last seven hours at a time. And when they are recording they live, eat and sleep at the studio, so if they weren't compatible it wouldn't work.

"It's about off the stage as much as it is on the stage," Joel said.

As I sit down with the band the respect they have for each other is evident — they laugh, joke and take the mickey out of themselves and each other — all in jest. Their compatibility isn't forced, which they say is key.

Brad said L.A.B found themselves needing a bassist and when Ara came on board, he fit like a missing piece of a puzzle.


They have fun and know how to read each other to identify when each needs space — but when it comes time to work, Stu says they are professional and work hard.

We're pretty honest, everything's out in the open," Stu said.

"When it's time to work together, we work. We're four pretty driven guys," Ara said.

On November 24, L.A.B released their 12-track self-titled debut album and this week they travelled back down to Wellington to begin the process to record their next album — with a planned release of the same date this year — the second of three.

While they have a plan for the album, the final result is something they are still unsure of because, that's just what happens.

If the creative juices take them in a new direction during recording sessions, they'll roll with it. If they record a track, they'll sit on it for a bit in case they want to make changes to the arrangement.

"Once you feel that magic you just keep rolling with it," Stu said.

They can't categorise their style, preferring to describe it as what music is, which is universal.

"We just write what we want to play." Joel said.

And that realness works for them — they have a loyal following, especially in the Bay.

In January, L.A.B performed a free, Corona Sunsets gig at Astrolabe Brew Bar and all tickets were snapped up within minutes. Last Saturday, they performed to a sell-out crowd at Totara St.

The L.A.B lads are humbled by their popularity. They say there are many reasons behind it — including their friends and family, but also the rawness of the music they put out.

"We put videos online, we won't edit them out, It's real honest sort of stuff."

Music is what L.A.B love and each one of them can not imagine doing any other job.

L.A.B - what you didn't know:

Brad Kora:

Is a black belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. If he wasn't a musician he'd probably still be fighting.

Stu Kora:

Is a night owl but an early riser, who would be gaming if he wasn't a musician.

Joel Shadbolt:

Loves to cook, admitting if he wasn't a musician that's the career path he would take.

Ara Adams-Tamatea:

Is a night owl and if he wasn't a musician he'd probably be getting fired from a regular job.