Interviews

Published on May 2nd, 2019 | by Darren Paltrowitz

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Judah & The Lion’s Nate Zuercher On Its Summer 2019 Tour & What Else Is Ahead For The Band

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 and in cohesive fashion.

An independent band by nature, the success of Judah & The Lion has arrived not on the back of a 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 U.S.

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 banjoist/vocalist Nate Zuercher by telephone on April 30th and highlights from that chat are below. Full audio from 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 on the group’s official website at www.judahandthelion.com.

Am I speaking to you from the set of Late Night With Seth Meyers?

Nate Zuercher: We are in the building. We’re kind of down in the lobby walking around…

I believe your first TV appearance I think might have been Letterman like five years ago. Is it old hat to you now to be doing TV appearances?

Nate Zuercher: I was just thinking about that earlier. They’re so different in different ways but also a little bit of the same. I’m definitely less anxious. I think it’s the biggest difference but I appreciate it. I’m here to have fun and just enjoy the process. I’m just so grateful to get any of these opportunities.

It’s pretty amazing looking ahead to what your schedule is and that you’ve got some intimate club shows, you’ve got a lot of huge festivals, you’ve got this TV appearance, and then I see a bunch of amphitheater shows you’re doing up. This leads me to wonder how is it that you prepare to have a show that can be done on any level in any kind of setting…

Nate Zuercher: That’s something that we’re learning as we go. You know back when we started, everything was the same size, and now we’re to the point that we did a really intimate show in Denver the other day for 200 people, and we’ve got sheds and amphitheaters coming up this summer, like you said. So kind of you do your best with what’s available and try to pack in as much production as it can with any venue.

As far as the performances, we went to Europe a few years ago to play for a bunch of people that didn’t have any idea who we were. I think that was the tour that we did that helped us kind of realize that no matter what, no matter how many people are there who knows who we are, we did our absolute best to bring down the house every single night. We came in with the sense of, “You know, if you can’t do this well outside in front of four people…”

Looking ahead you’ve got a really full summer tour coming up. But do you know you know what 2020 looks like for the band?

Nate Zuercher: Yeah, we’re pretty booked up for the rest of this year, and then we’ve got some ideas of stuff we’d like to do in 2020. But that’s all still coming together. I know we’ll be on the road for most of it just naturally.

I assume that you’re very busy at the moment because you just released a new album, and there are some great tweets that you guys have been putting up about how to tell people that you have a new record. Who is writing those?

Nate Zuercher: We like to be as involved as possible with anything that we’re putting out. So maybe we’re not the ones posting it, we’re at least writing it down and kind of following along with everything.

So ultimately is there something that you wish more people knew about or the band?

Nate Zuercher: I think this record does a really good job of showing people that we have a vulnerability that maybe hasn’t been showcased as much as the previous work… It’s so important for everybody, no matter what walk of life or career opportunity you have, you know we’re all human and we all need love and kindness. So I think what I would say for us as well, we’re not alone. We all need each other. And don’t forget to let people in your life know how much you care about them.

Well you kind of answered my standard closing question with that one but I’ll try anyway. Any last words for the kids?

Nate Zuercher: Yeah. I don’t know exactly the right way to word it, but just keep your head up. You may feel like the world is crashing down on you at some point in life, but now being a little bit older and given the perspective, you really can get through that difficulty and come to an understanding that maybe there is a reason for all of that. But no matter what, no matter how hard things get, there’s always to move forward and hold on to hope. Just don’t be afraid to ask for help. People want to help you out. They’re worthy of love and kindness. You’ve just got to keep moving forward.


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About the Author

is a New York resident (and Long Island native) with over 15 years of entertainment industry experience. He began working around the music business as a teenager, interning for the manager of his then-favorite band Superdrag. In the years following, he worked with a wide array of artists including OK Go, They Might Be Giants, Mike Viola, Loudness, Rachael Yamagata, and Amanda Palmer.Darren's writing has appeared in dozens of outlets including the New York Daily News, Inquisitr, The Daily Meal, The Hype Magazine, All Music Guide, Guitar World, TheStreet.com, Format Magazine, Businessweek, The Improper, the L.A. Times, and the Jewish Journal. He has been a member of the SATW and the IFWTWA organizations as a food and travel writer.Beyond being "Editor At Large" for The Hype Magazine, Darren is also the host the recently-launched "Paltrocast With Darren Paltrowitz" podcast, as co-produced with PureGrainAudio.


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