As a kid, Francis Kora remembers a time when it was talcum powder - not the music - that got the party started. It was the sprinkling of the white stuff on the dancefloor that triggered the slip, sliding dance moves of the masses at the RSA where him and his bros - Laughton, Stuart, and Brad, who these days, along with music-making mate Dan McGruer, make up the band Kora - were playing in their dad's band.

"They'd pull out the talcum powder and the floor would be packed," he remembers with a laugh.

While they make some of the most futuristic and innovative, yet popular, music around as Kora, it's this simple music memory that is closest to his role as Zac Puoro, the bass player and singer in Maori showband The Titanics for new play Raising the Titanics.

"It brings back a lot of memories," he says of the show. "Growing up we'd be playing in RSAs and pubs, and Dad would be getting us to play all over the show in Whakatane and Eastern Bay of Plenty, and to get the work you had to play everything from country and pop to old waltzes and rock'n'roll. So it [the play] is like jumping back into the past."

Raising the Titanics harks back to the golden age of the Maori showbands in the 50s and 60s when acts like the Quin Tikis, the Maori Volcanics (whose many different line-ups included Prince Tui Teka and Billy T. James) and the Maori Hi Fives (a version of which featured Frankie Stevens) were around.

It revolves around the life and times of the Titanics-"the greatest Maori showband never to have existed"-and as well as singing, dancing and telling cheeky jokes, it looks at the dark and sinister reasons why the band ended.

Francis Kora is joined by actor, musician, and jack-of-all-trades Tama Waipara, who performs and also composed the soundtrack to the play, Wesley Dowdell, best known as Outrageous Fortune's Aaron Spiller, Faye Smythe (Shortland Street's resident siren Tania Jefferies), Miriama McDowell (No.2 and Dean Spanley), and Go Girls star Bronwyn Turei.

"The relationships between the actors, and how they are being played are brilliant, just like how a band would normally argue. Not that Kora argue a lot," he laughs.

As well as playing music, Francis, like his brother Laughton, is an actor by trade and studied drama at Toi Whakaari in Wellington.

Of the four brothers the pair were both drawn to acting because "we were drama queens, bro". With this he cracks up, and then admits he doesn't really know why they ended up at acting school.

His main drama interests are physical theatre and puppetry, but after a few solid years in the band he's finding acting on stage again a little scary. "But I love it."

Though Kora were not heavily influenced by the Maori showbands he says there is an element of "the Maori feel" to their songs and the Maori showbands had that quality too.

"That's what the boys call it anyway. We say, 'Oh yeah, that's a real Maori feel'. And that not only comes from those bands, it comes from being Maori. It's that real natural feel. It's hard to explain."

Plus, he says, like the showbands, Kora realise the importance of entertaining the audience - and it has helped make them one of the country's most successful bands.

Kora have sold more than 30,000 copies of their self-titled debut album since it was released in 2007 and they make a healthy living from touring New Zealand and the world.

This success-based on a solid work ethic, sound business nous courtesy of manager Michelle Kora, and a clear vision of what they want from the band - now allows the members the luxury to do whatever they like outside music.

Drummer Brad and guitar-playing younger brother Stuart run a Brazilian jiu-jitsu martial arts club in Whakatane; Laughton is a family man, building his dream house up north, and teaching music and Francis describes himself and McGruer as "free spirits".

"I have no major plans, I can do whatever really, so it's just the band and whatever else I make up for myself."

He's not particularly forthcoming about the direction of the new album they are recording at present.

"We've recorded a couple of tracks. One's almost finished. Another track is not quite finished," he offers.

"But after this play we will be recording non-stop. We're looking at October for release, but whether we get there or not ... who knows," he grins.

LOWDOWN
Who: Francis Kora, bass player in double platinum-selling band Kora, and Zac Puoro in new play Raising the Titanics
What: Harking back to the golden age of the Maori showbands
When: June 23-27, (Thursday-Saturday 8pm, Sunday 4pm, Saturday Matinee 2pm), TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs