As a band propelled instrumentally by banjo and mandolin, folk is forever in their sonic makeup, but their booming beats often split the difference between EDM and hip-hop, while Akers' penchant for headliner-sized hooks puts their choruses in league with the likes of Kings of Leon and Imagine Dragons. But we grew up listening to just about everything between the three of us. At the midpoint of Judah and the Lion's varied musical and lyrical interests lies a perhaps unlikely sweet spot: sports soundtracking.
Judah and the Lion was a folk band that became a club-folk band, a genre that did not exist until the group invented it. In separate phone interviews, Akers and banjo player Nate Zuercher charted their journey from earnest young folk act to still-pretty-earnest folk-hop stars. The following is an edited version of that conversation:. Akers was a star baseball player at Belmont University in Nashville when he met Zuercher and his friend Brian Macdonald, who were studying the banjo and mandolin, respectively. You have to practice on your own. I was heavy into baseball, a lot of my friends were more on the athletic side. That was the moment we could feel something in the room, and we decided to start a band. Zuercher : When we started, Brian and I had just picked up banjo and mandolin, and we felt like we had to be a folk-bluegrass band, and that was gonna kind of be our destiny. Akers : Our recordings were way more folky, and not as risky.
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The band is made up of Judah Akers vocals, guitar , Brian Macdonald mandolin, vocals , and Nate Zuercher banjo, vocals. The original members of the band met while attending Belmont University in Nashville. It reached No. The band released their debut full-length studio album, Kids These Days , on September 9, ; it entered Billboard ' s Heatseekers chart at No. The album reached No.
The LP was extremely personal for vocalist Judah Akers as he opens up about some of his life experiences. When he was young, Akers would lash out by hitting walls or lockers; he never wanted to intentionally hurt someone. The vocalist says creating music has helped him express his pent-up emotions and hopes his work can have a positive effect on others as well. Before Pep Talks , the band—which also includes Brian Macdonald mandolin, vocals and Nate Zuercher banjo, vocals —had never had another artist featured on a track. They decided to mix things up a bit by recruiting Kacey Musgraves and Jon Bellion to join them in the studio. In addition to mixing it up with new contributions, Pep Talks has a wide array of sounds. You are worthy of love because you are human.