Don't Give Up your Day Job: Joel Shadbolt

Joel Shadbolt
For episode #67, Danny McCrum talks to Joel about his musical heroes, how his career got started, working with the Kora boys and how L.A.B. works behind the scenes.


Based in the Bay of Plenty, musician Joel Shadbolt is the lead vocalist and guitarist for the mixed-genre supergroup L.A.B. Danny McCrum caught up with him on a visit to the scenic Papamoa where they talked about absorbing musical influences and growing a career as a musician.

Joel grew up in Tauranga surrounded by music. “Music was just like water,” he said. “It was just around the house.” But in spite of his father being an award-winning country singer and guitarist, his supportive parents didn’t put on the unnecessary and unhealthy pressure creative young people sometimes face.

Sometime between the ages of 11 and 13, he had found his calling. “It’s hard to say when I started,” he said. “Because it’s all I knew.”

At 15, he decided to leave school and soon enrolled in a polytech course in Music Production. As a teenager he gained attention for his skills at busking competitions and began playing for a successful covers band until the age of 23, when he joined the Batucada Sound Machine.

Listen to a great discussion on learning about stage presence, how to play music no one knows yet and what it takes to keep a band running for a long time.

On the work required to build your musicianship

Sure it can be environmental and you can be brought up around it but at the end of the day if you want to do it, it’s that next level of, like playing club rugby to being an All Black. It’s actually work that you have to do to get to that place.

On the money thing

[When you] look at music and commerce and art, it’s like, no matter what side of the fence you’re on, you need both to succeed in a creative industry. You have to be good with money and you have to be a good artist.

On the importance of critical thinking in art

As a creative you need that, like, using your noggin instead of your heart kind of approach of looking at your music, take a step out of that kind of airy fairy, creative organic [space]. But at the same time can you step outside of your song and analyse it on a real level?


Written by Hannah Amante - a writer and copy-editor living in Wellington. She has held a stunning range of day jobs.

Written by

The Big Idea Editor

13 Apr 2019

The Big Idea Editor

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