G#’s Musical Radar: Judah & the Lion discusses its latest album
Banjo player Nate Zuercher talks about the creative process behind “Folk Hop N’ Roll.”
Judah & the Lion is an indie-folk band from Nashville. Last year, it released its breakthrough album, Folk Hop N’ Roll, and its single, “Take It All Back,” which received plenty of radio play. The band’s banjo player, Nate Zuercher, said the members wrote a good chunk of the material in the studio.
“We had about two weeks to record it, and had written a few songs before we went into the studio,” Zuercher said. “Our producer, Dave Cobb, is the guy that likes to capture the moment and make things raw. So, a lot of our ideas that we would come up with in the studio, he would kind of encourage us to explore those a little bit more.”
Zuercher said “Take It All Back” and a few other songs were written prior to recording the album, but half of the record was written within those two weeks. He said Cobb loved this idea, of writing most of the material in the studio, so it would be “an honest snapshot” of where the band was at the time.
As for the album’s sound, Judah & the Lion mixes and mingles various genres. The band incorporates the banjo and mandolin into their music and also uses MIDI drums and synthesizers to add electronic and hip-hop elements. Rock music is also a component of the band’s music, as shown with the pulsing drums and guitar noise in album opener, “Graffiti Dreams.”
“We play folk instruments, but we’ve grown up listening to everything and playing everything,” Zuercher said. “We just kind of wanted to make something that we all like to play and like to listen to. It ended up being a big mash-up that seems kind of random at times, but we believe it to be a cool snapshot of us.”
Zuercher said the band didn’t make an eclectic record just for the sake of making an eclectic record. It was more of a natural occurrence.
“I think it’s that we all enjoy different things and got tired of trying to play songs that sound like Mumford & Sons or The Avett Brothers,” Zuercher said. “We really love those groups and are inspired by them, but it’s not at all the only groups that we like.”
He said that even during live shows, they typically choose to play covers of hip-hop songs by artists such as Eminem or T-Pain, rather than a Mumford & Sons cover or another folk cover.
“I think it’s just sort of where we were inevitably headed,” Zuercher said. “I think we really grab onto something we like and feel is a cool representation of us as a whole.”
Judah & the Lion will be playing on March 24 at Delmar Hall, in St. Louis. The band will also be playing on March 25 at Uptown Theater, in Kansas City.