Home Music Music Features

Artist on Artist Interview: L.A.B and Summer Thieves

Rolling Stone AU/NZ got the popular Kiwi bands to discuss their Australian tour, which begins in Perth this weekend

Summer Thieves L.A.B

L-R: Summer Thieves, L.A.B

Sometimes tour pairings leave you scratching your head – Björk and Death Grips will perhaps never be topped – but L.A.B and Summer Thieves joining together makes a lot of sense.

The latter band are cut from the same reggae-rock cloth as their Aotearoa brethren, producing breezy and blissful anthems made for divine weather and chilled festival days.

L.A.B’s amiable style has certainly worked for them: they made history at last year’s Aotearoa Music Awards by being the big winner for the second year running, walking away with four awards, while the band also won Best Record at the 2022 Panhead Rolling Stone New Zealand Awards.

Add in several chart-topping albums in their home country and L.A.B head to Australia this week armed with an impressive wealth of anthems. For their tour Down Under – which begins this Saturday, April 15th in Perth – they’re bringing Summer Thieves along for the ride, with the Kiwi pair also set to visit Sydney, Brisbane, and Melbourne in April and May (see full dates below).

It made a lot of sense, then, to get the two bands to discuss their Australian sojourn. Rolling Stone AU/NZ collected their answers – Joel Shadbolt for L.A.B and Jake Barton for Summer Thieves – which you can check out below.

L.A.B 2023 Australian Tour

Supported by Summer Thieves

Tickets available via loop.co.nz

Saturday, April 15th (18+)
Belvoir Ampitheatre, Perth, WA

Friday, April 21st (All Ages)
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney, NSW

Saturday, April 29th (18+)
Riverstage, Brisbane, QLD

Friday, May 5th (18+)
The Forum, Melbourne, VIC

Saturday, May 6th (18+)
The Forum, Melbourne, VIC

What was the highlight of your summer?

L.A.B: I’d have to say Electric Avenue Festival in Christchurch. Was blown away with the sheer size and scale of the festival this year. The crowd was incredible, you guys were there too right? How was it for you?

Summer Thieves: Yeah, that’s always an epic festival. For us, Rhythm & Vines was a pretty hectic one for sure. We also managed to finish our new album which has been in the works for a while.

What was the best thing that happened last time you played in Australia?

L.A.B: I think just being there. It had been so long since we had made it over to Australia, and it was nice just to play for our fans over there again. The vibe was electric.

Summer Thieves: Yeah, I think just the whole experience was pretty incredible for us. Our first Australian tour. Boom!!

What are you looking forward to the most about coming back to Australia?

L.A.B: Playing these new beautiful venues and showing our fans some new material.

Summer Thieves: I think this tour will be a lot smoother. Last time was pretty full on with travel restrictions, so
maybe just looking forward to a bit more hang times with the other bands and the fans instead of hibernating. I think smashing these shows out of the park is definitely gonna be a highlight too.

What can you tell us about your new album?

L.A.B: It’s in the works at the moment and will be released later this year. We’ve spent some more time in the process of recording this album and really taking the time on what material we put on it. The feel of the album so far is in the roots-reggae, soul/R&B sound, but in true L.A.B fashion, I wouldn’t be surprised if a blues/rock track makes the cut.

Summer Thieves: This is the first album we have mostly produced ourselves from home. Started off from a
couple weeks in a little beach house in Whitianga with all the lads. We’re pretty excited about this one.

Who’s new video is better – L.A.B’s “Take It Away” or Summer Thieves’ “Funny How the Mind Works”?

Summer Thieves: Both are sicko.

L.A.B: Our one of course! Hahaha nah, “Funny How the Mind Works” is wicked, it’s one of those videos that just perfectly sums up the Thieves boys.

What music have you been listening to this summer?

Summer Thieves: A new NZ band called Black Comet, they’re super funky and talented dudes. You’ve been doing a bit of stuff with them, aye Joel? Plus we are back into making demos for the next record, so I’ve been listening to them a lot too.

L.A.B: Yeah, I’ve been jamming a bit with Black Comet, Laughton and the boys are mates so they’re definitely a band to keep an eye out for. I’ve been listening to a lot of Gary Clarke Jr. and old live blues records like B.B. King’s Live at the Regal. Classic blues like that is something that’s always on.

What do you guys remember about the time you spent in studio writing “Saturday Night” together?

L.A.B: It was a few years back when Brad asked me to meet him at Tiki Taane’s studio to work on a new track with the boys. We jammed for a couple of hours with Brad’s direction, bounced ideas around, and a song was born. I think it gave you guys a bit of an insight into what our writing process is like.

Summer Thieves: Totally, it’s always buzzy to be able to look into another band’s creative process. It was an
awesome day and it kinda just flowed effortlessly. We should do it again soon, maybe make a weekday anthem. Lol.

What do people need to know about Summer Thieves that they might not?

L.A.B: They are a good bunch of fellas who play great music. That’s all you need to know!

What do people need to know about L.A.B that they might not?

Summer Thieves: I think L.A.B are just a great band. Musically, they’re always on top of their game. It’s
always a pleasure to play with them, and I think it steps your own game up when you’re playing
with beasts. Joel shreds that gat like a bad bad man too. Very naughty.

You both play guitar and sing, what’s harder?

Summer Thieves: Well, for me it’s guitar. I’m more of a songwriter and rhythm player. The way that Joel can
play, he sold his soul a long time ago to a man they call the devil. Very bad man. Jarni, our lead guitarist, is also a very bad man. I think a guitar battle at one of the shows is definitely needed…?

L.A.B: Hahaha stop it. For me, I think they are equally hard in the style that we play. I think when you get the right feeling as a guitarist, your voice responds accordingly. If the balance is slightly off, then one or the other becomes harder. I think of people like Hendrix, B.B. King, and Stevie Ray where the singing and playing are all one thing. That’s the feeling I’m always trying to capture, where the two feel perfectly in sync.