10 Questions with ... For King & Country
October 10, 2016
BRIEF CAREER SYNOPSIS:
- 2008 A Tale Of Two Towns
- 2011 For King & Country
- 2012 Crave
- 2013 Into The Silent Night
- 2014 Run Wild, Live Free, Love Strong
(editors note: This interview is with Joel Smallbone, ½ of the brother duo, For King & Country. Also, be sure to check out the MOVIE and BOOK, both titled PRICELESS. They are excellent!)
I was born in Australia with 5 of my siblings, but I've lived in America for the last 25 years. Early on, after moving the whole family over, my dad lost the job. My mum was pregnant with my little sister, Libby, and we weren't sure how to pay for the hospital, we didn't have a car, etc. It was a trying time, but we banded together as a family and prayed for miracles. We had a family give us their van, groceries dropped off at our doorstep, someone paid for my sister Libby to be born. My sister, Rebecca St. James, started touring and we became a bit of the Australian version of the von Trapp family. Every member of the family had a job -Luke was spotlighting and background vocals, I was stage manager and background vocals. We set up and torn down each night. It was an apprenticeship of sorts before Luke and I started for KING & COUNTRY. We still live in Nashville, although we are always on the road!
2. What does a normal day at home look like for you?
Well, first I have to debunk that a bit, because there is no real normal. There is always something shifting or changing. In Franklin TN, my wife and I have a little Cottage which is a simple home, but we love being home. This morning for instance I woke up, lifted a few weights and put them down feasibly for about 30 or 40 mins, followed by breakfast. I had 4 raw eggs, which you have to fight the gag reflex. It's a quick breakfast and healthy as long as you don't get salmonella. Then I spent a few hours catching up on social platforms, emails and phone calls. This afternoon, my wife and I are going out to look for a new living room couch. She managed to sell our living room couch last week so our living room has no couch! One of the things we love to do is watch a great television show. We just recently watched Stranger Things and we also enjoy a good film so tonight we are going to go see the Tom Hanks movie, Sully. It's the simple things.
3. What's the song that you just can't get out of your head right now?
Well one of the songs that kind of gets wedged in my brain but i've only heard a handful of times is 'Close' by Nick Jonas, I think it's impressive. I also just went to see Coldplay at the ATT stadium and I heard them play 'Hymn For The Weekend' live, which just kind of knocked me off my feet. I thought it was beautiful.
4. How much do you travel, what are the challenges? How do you juggle life on the road with wanting to be home?
I think is sleep deprivation and forgetting where you are is a challenge- you also want people to feel that you are present, engaged, and connected. Another challenge naturally is being away from those you love, but the way I combat that is by having a lot of discussions about travel and how we navigate that. When I am home, I really try to be present and use it as a reset. Secondly, when i'm gone I try to bring home with me - so we bring our kitty cat on the road whenever we can, my wife will come out on the road whenever possible. We just made a blank statement that we will just cover whatever expense needed to make it happen.
5. What Artist or Pastor has had the greatest impact on you?
Bono is one of my great inspirations as an artist- I have so much admiration for his longevity, how he had managed to stand for great issues, the sub culture, and also how he loves people and his family well. He has been quoted a few times on leadership that always stuck with me and I use as a bit of a prayer for me on occasion - Help me to communicate an inspiring vision and live it, to value people and give them a voice, to build connections, community and unity.
6. What's the last book you read?
Onward by Russell Moore - Culturally, it's talks about the difference between American christianity or religion, sort of debunking that a little bit and getting back to the reality of what it means to be a follower of God.
7. Funniest or most embarrassing moment on the road?
We were doing this arena tour at the beginning of the year and there was one point in the show where all 7 of us go to B stage in the middle of the audience. We play a song out there and the guitarist wears a hat - I always take it off and throw it into the audience pretty aggressively. It so happens that right on the beat, I wind up with a bit of a spin, threw it out and my left foot never made it to the corner of the stage. I fell off a 7 foot stage straight into the audience and just disappeared, and I had that moment as I'm falling where I was re-evaluating everything - "Where am I going? Am I okay? Did I break anything? How did i end up here?" I kept singing but it was embarrassing, but no one really saw it because everyone was watching the hat as I threw it. When I got back up the band was sort of laughing at me. So there's a video on our instagram floating around if you want to check it out, what was equally funny is that you will notice I fell right on beat so it looks almost planned in the end!
8. Take us through a couple songs on your latest project.
The "Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong." is our sophomore record. The first record was written over a period of 4 or 5 years as first albums often are, but this one was written over a period of about a year and a half and so all of the story and the sentiment was more contracted into a small amount of time. It was also written about very polarizing experiences, as my brother had to come off the road to bedridden due to illness and to me just getting married.
The song, "Priceless" is about celebrating women's worth and what's interesting about this record in particular is that it's not only feels like a good body of work but it's not just one message. There are these layers of social messages, spiritual messages, relationship messages interwoven throughout the record. As a result, these incredibly diverse and impacting stories, from being beaten in a marriage and "Priceless" giving them the strength to stand up for themselves.
"Ceasefire" is about giving an opportunity to a white man to seek understanding and reach across the aisle to a black man - these great themes are found in the music and as a result you hear these stories as a result.
9. What organization/service group are you affiliated with?
Two come to mind vividly - a church based recovery program called Celebrate Recovery - what they are doing both for addiction as well now stepping into the prostition and trafficking, we've had a great partnership with them.
I would also deeply say Compassion International, what they are doing to alleviate poverty, with children specifically not having the ability to have a proper education, spirituality and physically to not have appropriate sustenance. Through their sponsorship program they giving these children a real opportunity, helping hundreds of thousands of kids.
10. Person you'd most like to have a discussion with, living or dead.....Deities are excused from this question
I would really like to have a discussion with Martin Luther King Jr, as I think his resolute nature is passion and yet his great love and conviction is incredibly admirable. In this climate right now and if he was around, we could all learn a lot from the way he would handle himself and encourage others to handle themselves.
1. Favorite Bible Verse....life verse?
More recently Philippians 4-8 - it's a list and it just says, "whatever is good, whatever is wholesome.." It's a great mindset and it follows up by saying, "think on these things." In a time where the mind has always been powerful, yet we are controlled by the input of social platforms and pop culture with a lot of negativity, whatever it might be - in these verses it helps to stay focused on the positive, the good, the wholesome, and whatever's true so those are the things that I want to keep my mind on.
2. How & When did you become a believer?
I grew up in a Christian family, and I was 8 years old and to be honest it was not a very extravagant experience. There was no weeping or falling to my knees, it was just simple as I was seeing God as a boy and getting a glimpse of who He was outside of my family's position and it was deeper than an introduction. It was also like the beginning of marriage where I told myself, I got it. I've got it all worked out, but it's only when you get deeper that you realize that it was just the beginning. For me, from a teenager into adulthood I realized there are so many facets and ways now beyond what i've ever thought of.
3. What's the biggest "God moment" you've ever experienced? Personally or professionally, when has God shown up in a powerful way?
My wife was very ill just a few short months after we were married and really rattled me. It was just the other day that I realized that was 3 years ago now, I was just looking at pictures back in that time and I found those pictures of her in the hospital which put me in tears. Those kind of extravagant moments have a way of really showing you where you are as a human, where you are spiritually and putting things in a certain perspective. The reality of life, time, mortality and eternity. I felt deeply connected in walking through that time and I knew I couldn't be strong with my wife on my own, otherwise I would just dissolve into fear and knowing that God really stepped in and carried me through that was very special.