When much-loved Kiwi band Sons of Zion perform in Tauranga this summer you can guarantee they'll be coming with a new set and some new music thanks to a dream trip.
Four members of the six-piece band have touched down in Los Angeles to seek fresh perspective and record new music at the heart of the world's entertainment industry.
After 12 years together, lead vocalist Rio Panapa said it was the perfect time to head to the heart of the world's entertainment industry to draw inspiration for their third album, which they planned to release in time for summer.
• Rio Panapa and Sons of Zion record dream album in Los Angeles
• Soundbites: Mount Maunganui next stop for Sons of Zion after sold out start to Come Home tour
• Sons of Zion to perform in Tauranga as part of New Zealand tour
• Sons of Zion, Kings in line up in free Bay gig
"As a band we are always pushing ourselves to be the best artists that we can be. And coming to a place like LA has given us new inspiration and re-energised our hunger to create music," Panapa said.
Panapa told the Bay of Plenty Times today from LA he had been living at home in Rotorua for more than a year now and was loving it.
"We are just in a place with the band where I don't need to be in Auckland anymore with what we are doing. Some of the others boys are the same and we have one in Ngāruawāhia and one in New Plymouth."
He said his family was the biggest drawcard back to Rotorua.
"It is what I know and the place that I love and the place where I go to top myself up and get re-energised. Auckland doesn't do that for me, if anything it stresses me out and makes me feel hoha. In Rotorua I go walking in the Redwoods in the mornings and it's really good for my soul."
He said although Rotorua has been inspirational for his writing, being in the same place could be tedious.
"It's hard to be creative in the same environment. We came here (to LA) to be around new surroundings and put a bit of pressure on ourselves. This trip is all self-funded so there's that pressure that you're going to fly all this way and spend all that money so you have to come up with something. It's a healthy amount of pressure that drives you to work."
The band will spend the next few days at Larrabee Studios, an iconic venue that has hosted some of the biggest names in music for more than four decades.
"For the boys it has been a lifelong dream to record in a place like this, knowing that some of the biggest songs ever created were made in this same space," Panapa said.
Sons of Zion songwriter and bassist Matthew Sadgrove spent four years in Los Angeles early in his career and is thrilled to be back in his old stomping ground after recently producing tracks for Stan Walker and Six60.
"LA has an energy and a buzz about it that really inspires you to create and push harder than you would normally at home," Sadgrove said.
"I forgot how much I missed the feel of this city," he said.
Singer Sam Eriwata said the band's sound had evolved over the years due to a natural progression of growing up and being comfortable to make music that felt right for them in their current stage of their lives.
"Over the next week we are just focused on getting new ideas on the page and recorded. The trip so far has been really beneficial and we can't wait to get into the studio today," Eriwata said.
Sons of Zion will be back in New Zealand in time for the festival circuit, set to play at One Love, Soundsplash and Bay Dreams where they will perform their new music live for the first time.