Years before forming one of Nashville's most genre-bending bands, the members of Judah & The Lion grew up in separate corners of the United States, listening to every type of music that came their way.
They loved it all: the twang of folk, the beat of hip-hop, the drive of rock & roll, the punch of pop. Later, after college brought the musicians to Tennessee, it only made sense to combine those different backgrounds — and different sounds — together.
An independent band by nature, the success of Judah & The Lion has arrived not on the back of some big-budget major label, but rather through their own hard work and passion for the music. Breakout single “Take It All Back” earned them an iHeartRadio Music Award for "Best New Alternative Artist of the Year" in 2018 after spending three weeks atop the Alternative Radio charts and being certified Gold in the United States.
Judah & The Lion's third full-length LP, Pep Talks, dropped last May, as featuring the Top 10 Alternative single "Over My Head" live. The immediate success of Pep Talks led to appearances on major U.S. talk shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers and NBC's Today Show. Thankfully, it also led me to speaking with banjoist and vocalist Nate Zuercher for Sportskeeda last year.
Within the last week, news broke that Judah & The Lion and The Backline (the Supporters' Collective of Major League Soccer's Nashville SC) had collaborated an official team anthem, "Never Give Up On You." Nashville SC CEO Ian Ayre said in a prepared statement:
“You might be in the stadium at a game, watching on TV or listening on the radio, and when you hear it and sing it, you are a part of our club and our family, because this is OUR song."
For those unfamiliar, Nashville SC is a MLS club initially founded by local supporters in 2013 as an amateur soccer organization called "Nashville Football Club." It officially became Nashville Soccer Club in 2016 when it earned a USL Championship club and as it began its bid to join Major League Soccer. In December 2017, Nashville SC became the 24th organization to be awarded an MLS club.
Nashville SC will begin its participation in MLS in 2020, playing at Nissan Stadium. In 2022, Nashville SC will be moving into its new and permanent stadium in 2022, which will be the largest soccer-specific stadium in the United States.
I had the pleasure of asking some questions to Judah & The Lion’s lead singer Judah Akers about "Never Give Up On You" and more, as transcribed below.
Who approached who first about your band writing the theme for the Nashville SC?
Judah Akers: Steve Schnur with EA Sports. He's been an incredible supporter, and helped us get more involved in the sports world throughout this album cycle.
How long did it take to write the theme?
Judah Akers: I went home after the meeting with Steve. He had a clear vision of what he wanted for the song and theme. Being from Tennessee and loving sports and music, I was so excited to go home and write. The song came pretty quickly as I was really inspired by the conversation. Took about 30 minutes sitting at my piano at home.
Were you always a soccer fan?
Judah Akers: I have loved the culture and energy that soccer brings ever since I was little.
Are there any teams you're as passionate about as Nashville SC?
Judah Akers: Nate and I have recently gotten into Liverpool in the last few years and have loved being a little part of the culture within that. Going to Party Fowl in Antioch and wearing red with the Nashville Liverpool fans is some of the most fun. I can't wait to have that energy in our soccer stadium.
On the other side of the sports spectrum, are or were you ever a fan of wrestling or MMA?
Judah Akers: I wasn't (laughs), but always loved the crazy highlights.
What is coming up for the band in 2020?
Judah Akers: More music and touring. Excited about this year in so many ways.
Finally, Judah, any last words for the kids?
Judah Akers: It's an honor to be a part of the Nashville SC story with writing this song. My goal with the song was for the singers in Nashville to sing it. And the screamers to scream it. The song was written to be sung by everyone.Published 26 Feb 2020, 12:44 IST