There’s something about that first big headlining tour that gets bands excited.
“I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve,” said Nate Zuercher, banjo and backing vocalist for Judah & The Lion.
As the band prepares for its biggest tour, in support of its latest album, “Pep Talks,” the members are giddy with joy about the opportunities afforded to them with a bigger budget and dedicated team.
“We’re just so humbled and thankful that we got to this place,” Zuercher said.
After debuting the tour in its home state, the band will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 10, at the Starlight Theater in Kansas City with opener Flora Cash.
The Nashville band, a mixture of the alt-pop sounds of bands like Twenty One Pilots and the folk-bluegrass stylings of Mumford and Sons, hit it big in late 2016 with the mandolin-led, number-one hit “Take It All Back,” and followed that up with another alt-rock smash, “Suit And Jacket.” Zuercher said it was an unexpected success for the band, whose fanbase grew naturally through tours with singer-songwriters like Mat Kearney and Ben Rector.
“We didn’t think of ourselves as a radio band, so when we started getting plays, it was amazing,” Zuercher said.
After the singles took off, so did the tour offers and TV appearances, with the band opening on sold-out tours like Twenty One Pilots and Incubus and performing on shows like “Conan” and “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” It also sold out Kansas City’s Uptown Theater twice, with the most recent being 2017’s “Going to Mars Tour.”
With the release of “Pep Talks,” the band’s expansive third album, the group went big, exploring a variety of sounds from hip-hop to electronic rock to pared-down folk tunes, and sometimes a mixture of all three. It features guests like Grammy-winning country artist Kacey Musgraves and hip-hop singer-songwriter Jon Bellion and explores topics that range from divorce and alcoholism to goofing around with friends.
Zuercher said the band knew for the tour for “Pep Talks” that it would have to bigger than it has before.
“On other tours, we’d sometimes have to go with the lighting or the lighting guy at the venue, which isn’t always great. This tour, we have our own lights and our own lighting team, which opens up way more opportunities for the show,” he said.
With the band having an EP and three LPs, it honed its set for the North American leg of its tour while in Europe, messing around with the placement of its newer songs and seeing how people reacted.
“We wanted to see how people would respond and when they wouldn’t, it would be like ‘OK, let’s try this song here instead,’” Zuercher said.
Touring with Flora Cash, an up-and-coming Swedish-American pop duo who hit it big in 2017 with the single “You’re Somebody Else,” the band said they’re hoping for nothing but good vibes and high-energy shows.
“Touring is a lot like camp, and we’re really looking forward to going on the road with them and getting to know them better. It’s just going to be a lot of fun,” Zuercher said.
— Andrew Gaug | St. Joe Live