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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 banjo behind the band

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Judah and the Lion

The Battalion Life & Arts editor Katie Canales spoke with banjo player Nate Zuercher about life on tour within the popular band Judah & The Lion and how he came to become a musician. Judah & The Lion will perform Sunday in Rudder Auditorium. 

THE BATTALION: When did you start playing the banjo?

ZUERCHER: I grew up playing the guitar — started in middle school and ended up going to Nashville to study guitar at Belmont University, which is where we all met. As a graduation gift from high school, one of my mentors at church gave me a banjo. I didn’t ask for it, he just kind of said, ‘Hey, you might like this. Here you go.’ I started messing around with it, I was really into bluegrass music at that point so it wasn’t totally out of the blue, but I wasn’t expecting a banjo. I started messing around with it in college, took elective classes. After a year of that, kind of realized that there wasn’t a whole lot of opportunity to be playing guitar professionally, but learning a lot, I just didn’t have any outlet to play outside of school … I ended up talking to my teacher who was like, ‘Hey let’s see if you could be a banjo major.’ There wasn’t any other banjo majors at school and I ended up being  the only one, but it worked out. About six months later I met Judah and he invited me to come play some songs with him and that kind of was how it all began.

THE BATTALION: What have you and the band been up to this summer while on tour?

ZUERCHER: It’s interesting this tour because Judah just got married which has been awesome, but it’s making him want to kind of be pulled back home a little bit more and his wife comes out a little bit more, which is great — it’s fun to have her around. But other than that, we all just  enjoy being home but it’s just part of the job; love being on the road. It’s cool because now we’ve gotten to go just about everywhere in the country and having connections and new friends there and getting to reconnect with old ones. I love it; I love traveling. I actually didn’t really live anywhere for about a year. I loved it so much, so I would just keep traveling even when we weren’t on tour. I ended up getting a place in July, so a little bit of a change of pace; something to go home to.

THE BATTALION: You’ll be performing with Ben Rector here on Sunday. How does your music compared to his?

ZUERCHER: We’ve been out with him for about three weeks now. He lives down the road in Nashville, so we’ve hung out a bit. He’s a pleasure to tour with, he treats us really well, just a good guy in general. I think our music works well together. It’s kind of for similar markets. I think ours is a little bit more high energy, more of a youthful spirit to it, but as far as what we’re talking about doing with it, I think we have a lot of similarities, similar philosophies on life. I think we compliment each other pretty well.

THE BATTALION: What’s the experience like performing your songs so many times to so many different audiences?

ZUERCHER: I guess we try to keep it fresh. There are certain markets that we hit often, especially in the Midwest. Because of that we try to break in new factors or different arrangements of songs. Otherwise, when we’re on tour we have a pretty typical set of songs that we’re playing. For that we’ve worked out our arrangement and what kind of works well and we stick to that.

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