Interview: Judah & the Lion Bringing Banjos And Cheers To Camden, NJ

By Michael Cerio

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — As Incubus, Jimmy Eat World and Judah & the Lion continue their summer tour, everyone seems to be getting along quite nicely.

“All of them sit down and hang out with us every night” explains Judah & the Lion banjo player Nate Zuercher. “They did our pre-show cheer the other day with us in New Jersey.”

The folk, pop, and hip hop sounds of Judah & the Lion are infectious and fun, distilled and expressed during their light and electric live show. Of course they do a pre-show cheer.

“You ever see Cool Runnings?” asks Nate over the phone from the band’s bus. “The Jamaican bobsled team movie, they do their cheer right before. Feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme, get on up it’s bobsled time. We do that, change the wording a little bit – yeah we all put our hands together and get real amped up, jump up and down.”

“Every night, for our whole career, since we started.”

That career of the genre-bending band from Nashville has taken off, especially over the past two years with the success of their album Folk Hop N’ Roll and the ever-present single “Take It All Back”.

“We like to say [it’s] booty popping banjo music” says Zuercher of the Judah & the Lion sound. “So you’re gonna get a little bit of groove in there, that might be too hard to not shake your booty.”

We’ve seen the sex appeal of the guitar throughout the history of rock music, but had to ask Nate about the romantic repercussions of playing the banjo.

“I find it’s hard to not smile while a banjo’s in the room. That’s one of my favorite things about playing it” he laughs. “As far as romance I’m not too sure. I’ve had a couple of instances where I’ve gotten to play for my girlfriend at different points and she seemed to like it, but we’re also not together anymore so, maybe it actually upset her.”

Joking aside, that was a while ago for Nate. In the time since he has played banjo at weddings, “and they’re still married” he exclaims. “It didn’t work out for me but it worked out for them, and we’ll see. There’s still a lot of life left.”

You can see Nate Zuercher, his love banjo, and the rest of Judah & the Lion when they play with Incubus and Jimmy Eat World this Thursday July 20th at BB&T Pavilion.

To hear much more from Nate, check out the full interview above.

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