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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Q&A: Folksy trio set to visit C-Stat

Judah+and+the+Lion
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Judah and the Lion

Folk pop band Judah and the Lion will perform at BYX’s Island Party at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Wolf Pen Creek Amphitheater. The band, which formed in Nashville when three friends started playing together in college, is most known for its song “Kickin’ Da Leaves” and was featured on the “Late Show with David Letterman” in February. The Battalion Life & Arts editor Katie Canales spoke with Brian Macdonald, mandolin player, about how the band developed its unique folksy sound.

THE BATTALION: It seems like there’s so much going on in your music. How did you take all these different influences and combine them to make it your own?

 

MACDONALD: That’s one of the interesting things about our story, I guess. We come from different parts of the country. We all met at Nashville at college and we do have a lot of different influences because of us coming from — I’m from Chicago, Judah’s from Tennessee, Nate’s from Colorado, so we just kind of had, growing up, different influences and when we got together we really clicked on a relational level and then started playing together musically. And also, it just felt right. And we really, I think, worked hard in trying to integrate different influences and different genres just like as we progressed with our music especially I think our last album.

 

THE BATTALION: Are there any specific artists that influenced you guys?

 

MACDONALD: There are so many, and we’re always listening to different stuff. Right now we’re really into Manchester Orchestra, which is kind of like a rock group. I think growing up, I definitely liked the classics, like Frank Sinatra, Billy Joel. And then also was into folk music. Nate kind of, I think he listened to a lot of heavy metal growing up. He still does, but also he’s really into bluegrass, that kind of thing. And then Judah, growing up, he was really into Ray Charles. It’s funny because we’ll be in the van and whoever’s driving or whoever’s in the front seat will be playing DJ. We’re so diverse you don’t really know what you’re going to get.

 

THE BATTALION: What instruments does each band member play and what do each of you bring to the music as a whole?

 

MACDONALD: Judah plays the guitar and he’s like kind of our front man, he sings as well. Nate plays the banjo and then I play the mandolin. Each of us kind of contributes to the songwriting in different ways. It’s kind of different for every song, but we all like to kind of collaborate on that to make something together and that’s why you’ll hear all these influences. Especially at the show, you’ll notice, I won’t give anything away, but we’ll play like, hip hop, we’ll cover some hip hop songs at the show, and then we’ll be covering some old bluegrass tunes. Just kind of like a journey, we like to make it like a wild ride.

 

THE BATTALION: You released “Sweet Tennessee” in 2013 and “Kids These Days” last year. How has your music evolved since then?

 

MACDONALD: “Sweet Tennessee” was kind of like — it was still very folky and Americana and we’re really proud of it and happy with it. When we got to recording “Kids These Days” our first full-length album it was actually our producer that helped steer us, but he kind of said, like, “I want to use a synthesizer keyboard bass instead of a regular bass,” and that kind of steered us, when we made the album, it opened up a lot of doors sonically. We have the acoustic instruments kind of at the front, but then also there’s this hip-hop-y vibe that you get because we use a lot of keyboard and the electric bass, the electronic synth-bass, so it’s kind of fun. But I think even more so than our album you can hear it in our show kind of our hip-hop influence. We definitely have a lot of ideas when we record our next album as far as integrating that even more. The genre that we’re trying to call it is folk-pop. So it kind of has like the banjo, mandolin, acoustic guitar, they’re at the forefront, but … our main goal is to get people to dance to the music because we love just like the high energy of the concerts.

 

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