Sons of Zion have evolved from their traditional reggae-heavy sound, now making music they want to — and they're excited to let fans hear it.
The six-piece band is set to tour New Zealand, visiting seven centres starting in Hamilton on August 24 and ending in Christchurch on September 8. Tauranga will be their only Bay stop, performing at Totara St on August 25. They will also visit Wellington, Auckland, Kerikeri and Dunedin.
It will be their first tour at home following the release of their new full-length album Vantage Point, and will follow their current Australian tour, which ends this weekend and the five-week tour of the United States, which they are now preparing for.
It's obviously a busy time for the band, which continues to dominate Kiwi radio with their hit Drift Away, but despite having little downtime vocalist Rio Panapa is excited to share what he describes as "a new side of the band".
This new sound is what fans can get when they head to one of their shows.
Panapa says they have stepped away from their traditionally reggae-heavy sound, having evolved their music and creating what they want to create, rather than what they feel they have to create.
"We've changed our show and our lighting and doing other stuff to really just push the boundaries with our music and not just coming on to the stage and doing 10 reggae songs like we used to do," Panapa says.
He says the band members are all feeling as though they have more freedom in creating these days and are in a place where they can write music they want rather than writing music to "fit in a particular box".
Panapa says in earlier times Sons of Zion were trying to earn their stripes in the music scene and would stick to a formula with their music but now he felt they had proven themselves and were confident in their new sound.
"We're just more comfortable making music that we like. Now we're just at a point where we're just going to make stuff that we like and that and hopefully other people like it as well, but if they don't that's all good."
Vantage Point has been about two-and-a-half years in the making and like past albums, is a bit of a family affair for the band.
Panapa's brother Marino, who is also a musician, has lent his skills on the album and has helped produce and write songs in the past.
Panapa says Sons of Zion is "more than just us", it's every band member's family too.
"We try and involve our family in any way. Sons of Zion is more than just us. It's so cool that everyone wants to help us realise our dream.
"It's everyone's family, not just mine."
Sons of Zion — consisting of Rio, Sam, Joel, Matt, Ross and Caleb — has seen a few changes in their line-up since they released their self-titled debut album in 2009 but once thing remains the same — the importance of choosing members who can vibe together off stage just as much as on stage.
"We've never had anyone leave for a bad reason. We always pick people not just based on their talent — but really good people."
And those vibes will be what fans will be able to get a glimpse of when they perform in Tauranga.
Sons of Zion have had a lot of success in their time. In 2013 they released Universal Love, which included singles Be My Lady, Good Love and Tell Her. The hits continued to flow with Stuck on Stupid, Fill Me Up, I'm Ready and Hungover as well as 2017's critically-acclaimed EP, The Jukebox Suite.
Panapa says although they will be predominantly showcasing their new music, they will perform some of their older music on the New Zealand tour too.
Once the New Zealand tour is over the band will no doubt see through the peak festival season before looking towards Europe.
"We're going to start moving into Europe soon."
Panapa says they have had opportunities to play in Europe in the past but it was more one or two shows, which wouldn't be viable given the costs involved in getting to Europe. Now he says, they have "finally got to a point where we can back shows every day Monday to Sunday".