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JUDAH & THE LION (pictured l-r): Brian Macdonald, Nate Zuercher and also Judah Akers.

You are watching: Take it all back judah and the lion

During the past five years, alternate folk/rock trio Judah & the Lion has arised as a renowned band that is building a large following, and also having fight success. Led by singer & guitarist Judah Akers, the band uniquely attributes a mandolin player (Brian Macdonald) and also a banjo player (Nate Zuercher) together the other vital members.

Judah & the Lion are recognized for writing and recording high-energy anthemic songs, that regularly have a positive, uplifting outlook. Their best song to day is “Take It all Back” (released in 2016), which was certified platinum and also reached #1 ~ above Billboard’s alternative Airplay chart.

The trio has just released a new EP dubbed Spirit (on Cletus Van/Virgin Records), which consists of their latest single “Spirit” plus 4 remixes, that selection from acoustic to speculative pop. This song has a heartfelt lyric around not giving up, and also the music build to a powerful, emotional optimal in the chorus.


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Here’s an excerpt of our interview with Judah Akers the Judah & the Lion, about how he and the band composed their struggle song, “Take It all Back.”

Based in Nashville, Judah & the Lion was created in 2011, when Akers met Macdonald and Zuercher in ~ Belmont University. They were all focused on music, and also Akers to be pleased to begin a band and also collaborate with talented musicians Macdonald and Zuercher.

Besides the solitary “Take It all Back,” the trio has also enjoyed radio chart success v their songs “Suit and also Jacket” (which went yellow in 2017), “Over mine Head,” “Why Did friend Run?” and their recent single, “Beautiful Anyway.” Notably, the group also released an excellent duet ballad dubbed “Pictures” that featured Grammy-winning artist, Kacey Musgraves. In addition, they’ve released 3 albums: Kids this Days (2014), Folk Hop n’ role (2016) and Pep Talks (2019).

We room pleased to perform this new Q&A interview Judah Akers the Judah & the Lion. He discusses their new EP Spirit, their hit “Take It all Back,” and also their distinctive song “Suit and Jacket” and “Pictures.”

DK: once you were starting out, exactly how did you, Brian (Macdonald) and Nate (Zuercher) kind Judah & the Lion?


Here’s the lyric video of Judah & the Lion’s single, “Spirit.”

Judah Akers: us all met in ~ school, at Belmont university in Nashville. In ~ the time, I was in my small year…I was composing songs yet I hadn’t videotaped them. Then ns went earlier home because that the summer, and my mom overheard me play and said, “Why aren’t you recording these songs?” and also I said, “I don’t know if they’re great enough yet.” climate she said, “Well, nothing’s ever great enough till you try.”

At Belmont, us had accessibility to these remarkable studios for free as students. Therefore the next semester, i talked come Nate, that was the only banjo significant at Belmont. And I to be like, “Hey, I have actually these song written and also I think they’re good. I desire to document them for me to have, and so I deserve to play them for my mom” (laughs). Then Nate said, “I’ll come and also jam with you.” and I to be like, “If you understand anybody the you’ve been play with, the instrumentally friend think they would work, invite them follow me to play.”

Nate to be friends with Brian, who was the only mandolin significant at Belmont. They were in these ensembles playing bluegrass music. Then we went to lunch—we had actually a lot in common and also we play these songs in the Bell Tower (at Belmont), just jamming out. And the next thing you know, us were recording. Climate they approached me and said, “Hey, us really believe in this music and we desire to do a tape of it.” So we were sort of off to the races.

DK: It’s distinct to feature a mandolin player and a banjo player. Go you have a vision the this musical combination would work-related well?

Judah: To be honest, us didn’t have a clue come what we were doing (laughs). I loved composing songs, and also they were an extremely skilled musicians. I had actually just choose up a etc a couple of years back. So ns was fairly brand-new to play guitar, and also if she in Nashville at Belmont, the next human is method more talented 보다 you are. It to be fortunate for our band the we had a tiny bit that ignorance, since we to be like, “Let’s type a band—that sounds prefer fun.” and suddenly she in a service together, and also you’re making bigger decisions.

For me, I flourished up in Cookeville, Tennessee. Ns was constantly around bluegrass music, growing up in a rural town. For this reason on the day as soon as we played at the Bell Tower, it felt super-natural and also organic. And the means our group thrived from there has felt very grassroots. I’m an extremely thankful that the band pertained to fruition.


DK: countless of her songs have actually a many of power with an uplifting spirit. Once you and the band write the songs, carry out you shot to look at the positive side?

Judah: because that me, i’m a organic optimist. Ns think authenticity is looking in ~ the pain and also sadness, and also trying to pick hope and also choose life in ~ the finish of the day. Because I think the lie around optimistic world is that they’re always happy. That’s not really true, at the very least in my case. I think managing sadness and also depression and anger is very common my personality together an optimist. We’ve always wanted ours music come reflect the fact of the pain and also sadness, but also choose to be a human being that is filled v hope and also love and also light.

When we’re play live and also singing songs with world at ours shows, i think it comes to an energetic emotion that we want to come throughout with. And also we likewise want to create songs that carry a small light come the heaviness that the world that we live in. That’s always been our motive.

DK: In 2016, your had actually a breakthrough hit through “Take It every Back.” can you call the story behind the song?

Judah: the was for this reason funny, due to the fact that some songs take 5 years come write, and also other songs take 30 seconds. And “Take It all Back” was composed in a melted in about 30 seconds. Nate had actually this banjo line, and also then me and Brian were vamping ~ above that, and also I come up v the lyrics and also the melodies. The was practically arranged and finished in a issue of minutes. And also it come from the spot wherein a lot to be happening come the tape at the time.

We had actually just played the David Letterman Show, and that to be a weird point for us. In ~ the time, us were an indie bluegrass/folk band, and David Letterman’s team liked among the song on our an initial record. Then us played the show and also it to be amazing. Girlfriend know, our parents ultimately took us seriously (laughs). That moment was beautiful, however it to be gone really quickly. And also we wanted our band to be much more than simply some good moments. We want to make this around people. As soon as we’re saying, “Take It every Back,” it comes from this heart, the no issue if we play tiny shows or big shows or pat the Letterman show, we want to do this around people. We desire to connect with people.

DK: You’ve just released a brand-new EP through your tune “Spirit,” and also it contains other mixes the the song. What inspired you to compose this song?


Judah: That tune came right before Covid happened…it to be the loss of 2019. Part of our last record (Pep Talks) was about my journey through my parents’ pretty explosive divorce, and my depression and anxiety going v that. It was coping in some great ways and bad ways. And also I thought…everybody’s journey is kind of linear. If you don’t go v stuff as a human…nobody’s life is perfect all the time. And with the track “Spirit,” we had this trip of…there’s no poem that’s perfect, no story it is perfect, but you keep relocating forward no issue what.

It’s weird appropriate now, not being able come play “Spirit” live however at shows. However in the meantime, we assumed it would certainly be fun to do new mixes, to have actually a couple friends rethink the song and also put their print on our words and also melodies. So it is why we had the idea of coming out through an acoustic version, and then these bigger mixes the were an ext pop or indie.

DK: ns was hearne to your songs, and also one the stands out is “Suit and Jacket.” It has a an effective lyric around not wanting to grow old also quickly. What influenced you to compose this song?

Akers: the funny around that one. Uneven “Take It all Back” which took about 30 secs to write, “Suit and also Jacket” take it me around five year to write. I had been at a wedding beforehand in our career. A friend’s uncle came as much as me and also said, “When space you going to begin taking your life more seriously?” like stop play music in a band and get much more security. At the time, ns took offense to that comment, that he didn’t think in our music career. For this reason I come up with that line, “I ain’t trading mine youth because that no suit and also jacket, i ain’t trading my desires for no 401-K.”

Then rapid forward to a couple of years later, my grandpa passed away suddenly. And the song was created in the context that my grandpa really believed in my dreams and in mine creativity. I wrote that song for the believing in me, and also saying that sometimes in life as soon as you check out friends gain to that following chapter much faster than what ns was doing, I created it indigenous this location of…I don’t desire to prosper old. I want to seek my dreams and also figure out whereby I’m going.


Here’s the video clip of Judah & the Lion’s song, “Pictures,”feat. Kacey Musgraves.

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DK: an additional song I choose is your ballad “Pictures,” v Kacey Musgraves. Exactly how did you and also Kacey attach for this song?

Akers: that was a really fun point to gain to do. Kacey has been a hero of ours for a while. Again, a most Pep talks was about me going with my parents’ divorce. I remained in the center of that, and also I dubbed my mom, and also we had an emotional moment. After the speak to I was so emotional, and I picked up the guitar and also wrote that tune from the view of my parents. So we really wanted to have a an effective figure to sing it, and I claimed to the guys, “If there was any way we might get Kacey Musgraves, that would certainly be perfect.” and also it to be so awesome. She heard the song and liked the story behind it. And she sang the tune from mine mom’s perspective. She was such a great, brilliant artist in the studio…it to be inspiring. That was really cool come connect and sing a duet v her.