As a Faith writer, I decided to put my faith into practice recently and see how far it would get me. If you listen to any of the local pop or rock radio stations, you’re likely to be familiar with a group called Judah and the Lion. They’re from Nashville, Tennessee and recently played a concert in Tampa- the 97x Next Big Thing. My daughter and I absolutely love their music and I decided to believe that I would get to meet them. Originally I was hoping to simply meet them and say “hi” during the concert but as it turns out they decided to grant me an interview.
Judah and the Lion is comprised of singer Judah Akers, drummer Spencer Cross, mandolin player Brian Macdonald, and banjo player Nate Zuercher. Nate called me right before they played a show in Houston. Since I saw them in Tampa on Saturday, they have played in 3 other cities and only had 1 day off. Currently, they are on tour doing all the major radio station festivals and in a couple months they will be touring with genre-breaking rock legends Twenty-One Pilots. With such a busy schedule, I’m incredibly thankful that Nate took the time to speak with me.
Other than their unique sound, one of the most interesting things about Judah and the Lion is their journey to success. They walked by Faith. Their song “Rich Kids” is about their journey; Nate explained that most of the band was in college and even though school is incredibly important they felt called to focus on the band. “Opportunities were coming up and we agreed that school would always be there if this didn’t work out. “ So ¾ of the band quit school and started playing. Surprisingly, most of their family and friends were very supportive. Meanwhile, Akers had been writing worship songs on his own but needed a band to play with him. He was introduced to the rest of the band through mutual friends and they realized that this was IT- the perfect combination! The four loved making music together and momentum started growing quickly.
Judah and The Lion’s first album was a Christian Worship album entitled First Fruits. In order to reach a broader audience and spread Christ’s love they switched to writing songs about relationships and real life issues which everyone can relate to. They’re not abandoning their faith though. “We’re Christians. That’s just who we are,” Nate says. His favorite song to play live changes every so often but currently it is “Back’s Against the Wall” from their Sweet Tennessee album.
Their current single “Take It All Back” is what caught my attention. The unique, melodic, and fun sound, along with lyrics that are so simple yet relatable is an irresistible combination. It’s one of those cathartic songs that you blast at full volume and sing your heart out to. I have to admit, sometimes I cry while singing along to this beautiful bittersweet song. It was written about the girl who got away and how even though Judah’s dreams were coming true, he’d give it all up just to be with her. I’m a hopeless romantic, so of course I had to find out how the story ended... Guess what? Nate says it has a happy ending- Judah eventually got the girl and married her!
Judah and the Lion is one of those bands who are so talented that you listen to the whole album over and over again without skipping any tracks because every song is THAT good! They are one of those rare bands whose live performances are even better than the recorded music. Their energy is contagious. They may be well-known, but they are humble- the kind of people you want to hang out with and just be friends with. I’m excited to see what they do next. I predict big things are heading their way!