With a book, film, and concert tour based on their radio single “Priceless,” 2016 is a huge year for Joel & Luke Smallbone, the brothers who front the band For King & Country. The band is capping off the “year of Priceless” with a fall tour which includes a stop at the Owensboro Convention Center this Saturday, October 22.
What fans are going to see Saturday night is a lifetime of musical influences coming together. The duo weaves in and out of several genres, mixing pop, rock, and alternative with an international sound. Even string arrangements.
The brothers say a lot of that influence comes from being raised in a very musical household. Their father was a music promoter, and their older sister is Rebecca St. James, a Grammy Award winner and three-time Dove Award-winning Christian artist. As such, the boys got their first stage experience as backup singers for Rebecca.
But now Luke and Joel have truly forged their own way. For King & Country’s first album, Crave hit No. 2 on the iTunes top Christian & Gospel chart and peaked at No. 4 on Billboard’s Christian Albums chart in 2012. In 2015 they won two Grammy’s; one for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album for their sophomore album Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong and another for Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance for the song “Messengers” with rapper LaCrae.
The band’s current single, “Priceless,” reflects the core message of honoring and respecting a woman’s worth. The reception to the song inspired the coinciding book and movie release.
The band takes their name from an English battle cry signifying that soldiers were willing to lay down their lives for their king and their country.
In the midst of their busy touring schedule, Luke Smallbone took some time out to tell Owensboro Living more about For King & Country and the Priceless Tour:
What can fans who have never seen For King & Country expect?
We want to be excellent in whatever we do, whether it be our music, the film, or the book. We put everything we have into it. Our shows are high-energy with amazing lights and quality sound. We try our best to be entertaining because we feel a concert should be engaging, interesting, and enjoyable. But more importantly, we want people to hear the heartbeat behind the songs.
Is there anything new for fans who have already seen For King & Country live?
Each tour has a different set design, and there are always new stories to share. What makes it interesting is that on any given night, you’ll never have that same 2,000 people together in a room ever again. So the show is never the same because it’s never the same people.
The other thing is that music hits you differently at different points in your life. So some old songs can hit you in new ways when you hear them again. That’s part of the mystery of art and music.
What is it like to collaborate so closely as brothers?
I don’t know anyone better than Joel at refining songs. I’d say we do have the advantage of knowing each other so well. But we’ve also learned and gained experience and wisdom from being in this band together for ten years now. For us, we write best in scheduled sessions so we can have concentrated time. It takes discipline. You never know how a conversation could spark an idea or inspire a song. There are a lot of times when a melody starts at random times during the day, like driving or in the shower. Someone will bring it in during the next writing session, and we’ll work on it.
How did starting out in Rebecca’s band influence you and Joel?
Oh, it has everything to do with who we are and the music we write. I have been around music my whole life. I didn’t plan this; it was just the life I was born into. My parents are both musical. At nine years old I ran the spotlight for Rebecca. By 15 I was lighting director. But what that did was cultivate in me a love for music. It has forced me to listen to music differently. I am constantly critiquing. And Joel and I have incorporated that into our own music.
Our parents invested in opportunities for all of us, but it was never a pressured thing. It was that way with anything; soccer, or whatever we were into. I was probably 13 when my dad came up to me and said, “Luke, you sing. Let’s work on a demo.” But I knew when I started thinking seriously about music that I didn’t want to do this without Joel. Then a few years later he approached me about starting a band, which was really what I wanted, which was great. And that’s when this got started.
Tickets for Priceless: The Tour, with special guests Jordan Feliz and Kb, are available at www.owensborotickets.com or at the Owensboro Convention Center box office, 501 West 2nd Street.
Read more at forkingandcountry.com.