Creating a song that is 'the one' can be all a band needs to reach number one. It's not a black and white process and by no means is it an easy task - especially for independent musicians. Bay of Plenty band L.A.B has created theirs ... but they can't pinpoint why their single In the Air is that for them. Kristin Macfarlane reports.
When L.A.B found out they had the number one single in New Zealand there was a lot of reminiscing about creating the song that has connected with the masses.
After five years, three albums and nine singles the Bay of Plenty music heavyweights reached a major milestone in their career, taking the number one spot on the New Zealand Top 40 Singles Chart at the weekend with their single 'In the Air'.
L.A.B is Mount Maunganui's Joel Shadbolt (vocals/guitar) and Ara Adams-Tamatea (bass), Whakatāne's Kora brothers Brad (drums) and Stu (guitar/keys) and Wellington-based Miharo Gregory (keys).
Together they are the first New Zealand musicians to hit number one on the New Zealand Top 40 Singles Chart since Lorde's 'Green Light' and the first local independent artists to secure the coveted spot since Flight of the Conchords' charity single 'Feel Inside (and Stuff Like That)'.
'In the Air' debuted at 21 on the singles chart the week of January 6 and has spent 10 weeks slowly building. It reached number two on February 10, sitting there until finally hitting the number one spot last week.
"It's a special moment. We got the phone call on Friday night," Shadbolt said.
He called Brad and they reminisced over the creation process of 'In the Air', without being able to pinpoint the moment it came together.
"It was the start of the album, or the middle," Shadbolt said.
"It was one of those tunes that when we recorded, it was fully in the moment."
There have been moments over the past five years when L.A.B have thought they had unintentionally created a "banger" worthy of taking them to number one - but it wasn't to be.
Because of that, Shadbolt says he can't explain why 'In the Air', from their third album L.A.B. III, is the song that has been able to connect with people the way it has. Their music is now getting played on top 40 radio stations for the first time, which Shadbolt says introduces them to an even bigger audience.
"You can't actually predict what's actually going to happen," Shadbolt said.
"I couldn't have told you that 'In the Air' was going to go number one.
"You don't write with the intention of having a number one hit."
You just hope it sticks, he says.
It's been a "pretty surreal" weekend for Shadbolt, who especially missed his late father Brian, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease in 2012 and suffered from it until he died in 2014.
"Saturday was a bit emotional, to have him around would've been amazing. He was a super proud kind of guy, he would've been telling everybody."
It was dad's talent - he was a country musician who gave Shadbolt his first ukelele at 3 years old, and mum Jocelyn's taste in music - a listener of blues and American 70s and 80s rock - that has influenced Shadbolt's musical journey.
He says they will always be his biggest supporters - so much so that he even though he has the number one single in New Zealand, he and his partner live at home with mum.
Just like Lewis Capaldi, he joked.
L.A.B's success has been a long-time coming and Shadbolt says their number one is the icing on the cake for a lot of hard work.
New Zealand Music Chart compiler Paul Kennedy, from Recorded Music, said the Top 40 Singles chart is based on sales and streams to the week ending Thursdays, with the chart updated on Saturdays.
He said it was always nice to see a New Zealand act in the number one spot, especially one new to topping the charts and had been slowly building to get there.
Kennedy said while there had been independent international artists reach number one in recent times, it wasn't too common for Kiwi artists.
"It's a pretty rare thing for entirely independent artists to go to number one," Kennedy said.
Next week, the band will meet to discuss future plans.
"How do you follow that? We keep doing what we're doing."
In the short term, they've got plenty to keep them busy.
This year looks pretty busy already for L.A.B. They play two more shows this month, before performances in Auckland and Hamilton in May and joining the Good Vibes tour around the North Island in July and August. In October, Shadbolt says L.A.B head off on an Australian tour in October.