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, is set to drop this week on Friday, May 3rd. To celebrate, the band will share their Top 10 Alternative single "Over My Head" live on Late Night with Seth Meyers this week beyond an appearance on NBC's Today Show. Further in support of Pep Talks, Judah & The Lion is currently in the midst of a world tour, and many of those shows are part of Live Nation's National Concert Week promotion in which $20 tickets are available through May 7th.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Nate Zuercher (banjo, vocals) by phone and was able to sneak in a few sports questions. The rest of this interview will be broadcast as part of a future edition of the Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz podcast. In the meantime, more on Judah & The Lion -- which also includes guitarist/vocalist Judah Akers and mandolinist Brian Macdonald -- can be found online at www.judahandthelion.com.
Are you originally from Nashville? I know the band is Nashville-based...
Nate Zuercher: We are in Nashville and I went to Belmont University, but I'm from Colorado Springs, Colorado.
What was it that made you relocate to Nashville? Was it just for college and you stayed after that?
Nate Zuercher: Yeah, I just switched to studying music at Belmont and they had a really good guitar program that I was looking at. I was kind of between there and Berklee up in Boston, but I think for Colorado it's about half the distance away and half the price as well. So yeah, that gets it. And I'm glad I chose Nashville because of the situation I'm in.
Nashville wasn't always cool. Did you have any hesitation as to calling it your home? You know, now that it's actually cool and not as cheap as it once was?
Nate Zuercher: I enjoy that it's growing. It's fun to have people coming in and I like that it's the "melting pot" culture, that keeps it really exciting. But yeah being from Colorado, I definitely do miss that now... The travel takes me home or to places similar and I'm trying to appreciate that.
Now that you live in Tennessee, are you still loyal to all the Colorado sports teams? Or did you switch allegiance and become a [Tennessee] Volunteer?
Nate Zuercher: Well I wasn't much of a college fan. There wasn't too much to be excited about Colorado in that regard. But I'm a huge pro sports fan and still support all that. The [Colorado] Avalanche, the [Denver] Broncos, the [Colorado] Rockies, [Colorado] Rapids, National Guard... For the most part I'm still Colorado.
Well having done so many kinds of gigs in so many kinds of settings, have you gotten to play the national anthem at a sporting event? Or is that still on the to-do list?
Nate Zuercher: I don't think we've done it. That's something that would be really cool. I'd sing it a lot In high school, though.