Judah And The Lion
Full Access had the opportunity to sit down with the band Judah & The Lion. The band calls their genre “folk hop.” Judah says, “It’s got a little bit of Americana and indie bluegrass with a hip hop dance style.” The band consists of Judah Akers on lead vocals and guitar, Brian Macdonald on mandolin and backing vocals, and Nate Zuercher on banjo and backing vocals.
We asked them what inspires them to perform and Judah responded, “We cover different backgrounds and influences. We think that’s a big part of what makes us kind of tick as a band. We have all these different genres that we get inspired from. I know for me, as far as writing goes, just a lot of things really inspire me like going through stuff as a family, or falling in love, or having a hopeful story that happened to your grandma; anything that’s around me. Obviously other musical artist’s kind of inspire us when new records come out. We’re really inspired by Bon Iver and the Indie world, and Americana to Kendrick Lamar and the hip hop world. We’re all kind of inspired by different things.”
Nate responded, “When we’re performing, we like to have fun. It’s all about the energy and vibe. We like to dance to our music and we like to go hard on stage. We want to translate to the people that are here watching. It’s just about having a good time, letting go and being loose.” Brian also replied, “Yeah, we love performing live and we love bringing energy and creating environments. Trying to create a positive, happy environment with joy and love. Like Judah said, we all come from different backgrounds. I’m from Chicago and Nate’s from Colorado and Judah is from Tennessee. We met in Tennessee at school, but we all have different influences that come together and it works.”
Judah tells us that they started out by him writing some songs that were on their first EP. He was a junior at Belmont at the time. He states, “Honestly, I wasn’t looking to really start a band or anything. I was just a student that wanted to hear the songs that I’ve written and record them. Just to see if people would like them or to have for my mom. I knew Nate played banjo in school, we weren’t friends or anything really, but I called him randomly, and I was like, You don’t know me, I’m just a jock and play baseball, but I have these songs. Would you be interested in playing? And he came along and brought Brian. They played music together before. We met up and really just clicked relationally. When you’re making a band, you play together and that’s great, but if you don’t really vibe together on stage, it’s not going to work. So we really vibe. We went to the Bell Tower there at Belmont and played through the first few songs, and we kind of felt like there was something special. And now we’re here.”
They put out an album through PledgeMusic about a year ago, and we asked how that came about and if they were surprised at the response they got. Nate responded, “We did Kickstarter for our first EP, Sweet Tennessee, and that worked really well. But we had a loftier goal for the Kids These Days album. I think for the reason of needing more money, we weren’t sure if we wanted to do something where if we didn’t make our goal, we wouldn’t get anything. So with PledgeMusic, we got the opportunity to work, you get to keep whatever people give to you, you get a little bit more of a safe guarantee that we at least have something to help us toward our goal. It blows our mind that people still continue to support us.”
Faith has been an important part of their lives, they are all Christian guys and they said that faith is a driving part of their lives. Nate says, “Our first CD, we made a worship EP. As we got to write more and more together, we realized that we didn’t want to be limited to a certain market. It felt kind of limited in what we could say and what we could write. Once we all three started writing about life or love; we didn’t have to limit it to talk about faith or anything like that. As it’s gone on, we hope that people get a great idea of who actually we are, whether we’re writing about our faith directly or not.”
We talked to them about their musical influences and Judah replied, “It’s so funny because we literally swing from everywhere. My dad’s side of stuff, he was very influenced by hip hop and rap. I grew up on 50 Cent and Eminem, and my mom was very big on music and loved good music like Tom Petty, Queen, REO Speedwagon and REM. I of course grew up with some of the classic country people too. So it’s kind of different for all of us. I would say that Jon Foreman is a big influence of mine and John Rzeznik from the GooGoo Dolls is another strong influence.” For Nate, he says he is more of a metal head and punk rocker, so for him he gravitates towards Avenged Sevenfold, In Flames, Green Day, Blink 182 and Dropkick Murphys. But at the moment, he is really into Kanye, Twenty One Pilots and the bluegrass world. And for Brian, he said, “Growing up, I listened to a lot of Billy Joel, James Taylor, kind of like the classics. So I think I have a lot of that in me. And I also like Indie like Radiohead or folk music like Bright Eyes and rap.” Each member is very eclectic and Judah said, “If you sat in our van you would hear a lot of different songs and types of music played.”
Judah & The Lion will be touring with Incubus and Jimmy Eat World this summer. They will be coming to Tampa to perform at The MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 7th. This is a band you will not want to miss! With their eclectic style and great live performances, they have been captivating audiences every where they have played.