Sons of Zion follow in footsteps of Bob Marley, Alicia Keys and Tupac

By Jessica Tyson

New Zealand band Sons of Zion are turning a dream into reality this week, recording their first international album in Los Angeles, at the same studios where legendary musicians Bob Marley, Alicia Keys and Tupac have recorded.

The four band members Rio Panapa, Matt Sadgrove, Sam Eriwata and Joel Latimer are celebrating their 12th year together and are recording at the iconic Larabee Studios.

“You just look around and you know what mahi has come out of here. You know what people have managed to produce out of LA and that’s definitely a buzz and a culture and a vibe that we wanted to be around," says Panapa who is a vocalist and guitarist. 

Sons of Zion in the studio. Source: Supplied

Panapa says being in LA makes creating so much easier knowing that musical legends have created “massive songs” out of the studio.

“It sort of gives you an indication of the potential in this place and what you can make of that.”

Just last year Sons of Zion kicked off their World Tour after releasing their new album Vantage. It was the first album the group had recorded in five years and featured the hit single Drift Away.

Not long after releasing the song, the band realised it had been streamed online over 1.3 million times. The song was composed in just 30 minutes by Sadgrove, their bass guitarist, and became the band's fastest-growing single.

Panapa says the new album will be "a true expression of us being free and not having any inhibitions or fear about what we're making or trying to contrive anything or make stuff for a particular box. We are here having a blast really and expressing ourselves through our instruments and our voices so I think what people hear they get to know us better through this.”

Singer Eriwata says the band's sound has evolved over the years due to a natural progression of growing up and being comfortable to make music that felt right for them in the 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," says Eriwata.

Sons of Zion in the studio. Source: Supplied

Panapa says it would be a dream of his to collaborate with artists like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. But their ultimate goal is to create a better life for their whānau.

“All the boys goal is to do music full time and take care of our families, not scrimp and scrape along, but take care of them well. off the back of our music and hard mahi.”

Sons of Zion will be back in New Zealand in time for the summer festival season to play at One Love, Soundsplash and Bay Dreams where they will perform their new music live for the first time.

"We can't wait to share what we come up with, with our fans back home in New Zealand," says Panapa.

Before embarking on tour last year the band spoke with our team about their journey