River Beats caught Judah & the Lion at Austin City limits weekend one, and their performance was something never to forget! Not many bands can blend genres the way they do, but their set wasn’t just about showcasing their diverse skills. They played a show that a crowd could leave only in high-spirits, speaking encouragement through their lyrics and sound.
Appreciative of the time their fans dedicate to attending their concerts, this three-man band strives to create an intimate experience. They also write their music by portraying how they live their own lives. By combining these two concepts, they put on shows that help the crowd relate to who they are as people.
Their past releases illustrate their warm and outgoing ways of living, but their recent album takes a new turn. Released in May of this year, Pep Talks conveys heavier life themes more than ever before. We got to talk to Brian, their mandolin player, and Judah, their guitarist and lead singer, about the making of their new album and the inspiration behind it.
Check out River Beats’ interview with Judah & the Lion below!
But before you do so, give Pep Talks a listen:
River Beats: You guys released Pep Talks earlier this year. Beautifully done album! How is your tour going so far, and how does it compare to past tours in your career?
Brian: “It’s been a really special tour thus far. With the album having a little more personal meaning, it’s been amazing to hear stories from our fans about how they relate to the album with their life, and experience the songs with them.”
There are incredibly heavy themes that evoke intense emotions in every song. Can you describe your process in translating real life experiences into music?
Judah: “I think music and all forms of art are amazing ways of getting real emotions out…good and bad. I tend to be a bottler in life – don’t really want to admit when things aren’t going well, don’t really want to share when there is pain. Music and writing is a great outlet for me to release those emotions.”
If you don’t mind diving in further, how has the making of this album created hope for you in the way it has created hope and encouragement for your listeners who can heavily relate to these songs?
Brian: “It has reinforced the fact that we are all in this together. Everyone is going through something at different points in their lives and we have to remember that we are not alone. That has been clear to us hearing the fans sing the words to the songs on Pep Talks.”
For “Over My Head,” the music video has a high school setting. Coming from an album that has such heavy themes, can you explain the reason why the music video was produced in a setting that is commonly known for being a time of youthful innocence and discovery (high school days)?
Brian: “We wanted to create a “punk rock pep rally,” a place full of passion, weirdness, fun, and discovering one self. We hope that setting and feeling can be recreated at our shows, too.”
Moving onto a bit of a lighter note, what was it like to collaborate with artists Kacey Musgraves and Jon Bellion?
Brian: “It was amazing and we were super honored to have them both on the album. Both very much genre bending, and hard to put in a box. We became great friends with Jon on tour, and Kacey is a local Nashvillian with us.”
Just as many artists’ sounds progress over the courses of their careers, your sound on every EP and album released so far has shown a mix of diverse genres. Can you elaborate more on how each EP/album progressed differently from the last one regarding mixing folk, hip hop, alternative, and electronic themes?
“I think we are continually becoming more like ourselves, musically, and always evolving. We love our old stuff, and it’s definitely very different. I think our goal is to stay true to who we are and have fun in the process.”
“Take It All Back” is one of the biggest hits that you guys have. Can you guys highlight the inspiration behind writing and producing the song?
Brian: “That was one song that came to us very fast. We were rehearsing for a tour in Nashville, and at the end of a long day, we starting jamming and that song happened in less than ten minutes. We actually ended up playing it on that tour, long before it was recorded. So by the time we recorded it, we had played it in front of a lot of crowds.
The meaning for us is that we would remain true to ourselves throughout our career. In an industry where people are pulling us a lot of different directions and telling us who we should be, we would take it all back to have that true connection with each other and with the music.”
Featured image via artist Facebook page.