The Lads

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Not to be confused with The La's.
The Lads
Origin New Zealand
Genres Pop
Christian rock
Years active 1993-present
Associated acts Phil Joel
Members Steve King
Mark Millard
Edward Underhill
Past members Paul Cotton
Bennett Knowles
Chris White
Matt Chapman
Kristian Bennett
Bjorn Bennett
Tim Smith

The Lads are a New Zealand Christian rock/pop group that was formed in 1993. In early 2005 the band moved from New Zealand to Nashville, Tennessee.


The Lads are an American-based New Zealand band that has been active since the late 1990s. The band has played at many church services, youth events, camps and high schools around Australia and New Zealand.[1] Before moving to America, The Lads were a popular act at Parachute Music Festival and performed at each festival, except for 2006, up until 2007. In August 2010, The Lads confirmed via Facebook that they would return to New Zealand for Parachute 2011. It would be their first New Zealand concert in four years.[2] In addition to live tours across the United States, the Lads also produce a TV show which is shown on TV stations around the world.

[3] The show uses the band's humour to teach kids about certain principles, and episodes are based around action taking place in the band's HQ and their hangout, Murray's Milk Bar. At the end of each show, Murray offers a monologue about that week's episode, followed by a live performance by the band.

The founding members of The Lads are: Mark Millard (vocals/trombone/saxophone/drums), Steve King (drums/vocals), Chris White (keyboards/trumpet/vocals), Bennett "Ben" Knowles (bass/vocals) and Paul Cotton (guitar/vocals). The founding members were friends as children, growing up together at the same church - Wellington South Salvation Army - in Wellington, New Zealand. All of the founding members except Paul were born and raised in New Zealand. Paul was born in Canada but moved with his family to New Zealand at the age of 12. As such, he speaks with a Canadian accent. He is also the older brother of TrueBliss singer Joe Cotton.

The band members started out writing songs for fun and became known as "Lads." [4] This quickly changed with the success of their second album, Arbor Day. The Lads had a string of number one hits on Christian radio in Australia and New Zealand, and were invited to headline all of the major Christian festivals throughout New Zealand and Australia. During these early performances, the band had no dedicated lead vocalist. Instead, all members except Paul shared the job. Mark became the primary lead vocalist by the time Lost @ Sea was released. Chris and Ben covered lead vocals occasionally. Most notably, Ben sings the song "Understand" from the Lost @ Sea album - a song which gained huge radio airplay in New Zealand and was later featured on TV show Dawson's Creek. The song "Alone" was also featured.[5]

In 2000, The Lads' album Lost @ Sea was named best gospel album at the New Zealand music awards,[6] and their 2002 album Marvel followed suit, taking the prize again.[7]

Before the band recorded the album Marvel in 2001, Paul Cotton left the group to pursue a teaching career. He did, however, have some input on the writing of some of the songs on that album. Rimu Tahu from the band Royal Rumble [8] temporarily filled in as live guitarist, but Paul's permanent replacemant was Matt Chapman, who only appeared on the album Marvel and later developed RSI and was replaced by Bjorn Bennett in late 2003.

After the band's self-titled fifth album, The Lads their focus began to shift towards a younger age group. Their aim, after a few trips to the USA to tour, was to try and break into a larger market by moving to the U.S. in 2005. It was during this time that Chris and Bennett decided to leave the band and move back to New Zealand. Bjorn's older brother Kristian filled in on bass for early performances after the move to the U.S. but has not been formerly replaced since his departure. Instead, the band uses loops and backtracks to fill in instruments vacated by former members. Kristian now plays in a new version of Royal Rumble along with Rimu Tahu.[9] Chris continues to have some creative and lyrical input into the band and can be seen on live footage filmed in New Zealand from the "Live at The Thunderdome" DVD. Paul has also had guest slots during performances in the band's home city of Wellington, New Zealand during tours in New Zealand.

Bjorn left the band in 2010 to pursue music with his wife Tara[10] but can still be seen in cartoon form on promotional material and on videos displayed during live shows. He was replaced by Tim Smith. Tim can be seen on the "Live at Thunderdome" DVD and on Season 2 of "The Lads" TV show but has since left the band and returned to New Zealand. To date, he has not been formally replaced.


The Lads are a band made up of Christians, writing both songs of praise and worship as well as contemporary music.

Current Band Status[edit]

Steve and Mark live in Nashville and tour on a regular basis, usually for no more than two weeks at a time. In November 2012, they were in Australia, and in December 2012, they toured some of New Zealand. Among their stops were a Christmas Concert in the rural Southland township of Winton. The band was back in NZ for the Parachute Music Festival at the end of January 2013.

Band members[edit]

  • Mark Millard - vocals
  • Steve King - drums, vocals

Former members[edit]

  • Paul Cotton - Original Guitarist
  • Bennett Knowles - Original Bass player
  • Chris White - Original (and only) keyboardist
  • Rimu Tahu (Royal Rumble) - Briefly replaced Paul Cotton for NZ Tour.
  • Matt Chapman - Guitarist replacing Paul.
  • Kristian Bennett - Bass, replacing Bennett. (Bjorn's older brother)
  • Bjorn Bennett - Guitarist replacing Matt Chapman
  • Tim Smith - Guitarist replacing Bjorn Bennett
  • Elliot Richardson- Tour guitarist for Live at Thunderdome DVD (only member not from New Zealand)


Date of Release Title Label Charted Certification Catalog Number
1993 People I Regularly Associate With (P.I.R.A.W.)§
- -
1996 Arbor Day - -
1998 Lost @ Sea - -
2001 Marvel - -
2003 Alive In Concert - -
2005 The Lads - -
2007 The All New Adventures of The Lads - -
2007 Creator - -
2007 Whoa - -
2008 Secrets of the Universe - -

§Only 2000 tapes were ever made of P.I.R.A.W and is somewhat of a collectors item for fans.


In 2005, the band released a live DVD called Alive in Brisbane.

In 2011, the band released "Live at The Thunderdome" a Lads TV special DVD with an extended episode intermixed with live performances from their 2011 Parachute Music Festival performance in New Zealand


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