Like many Christian music artists, Joel and Luke Smallbone, of For King and Country, had meager beginnings. For a couple of years, they toured around the country in a 15-passenger van!
“ It’s interesting because it was nine of us dudes in that van and it got pretty gross at times, but there’s some really great memories. It’s a forced family out here, and we really have a special kind of relationship and understanding with all of us in our different roles.”
Now, they travel with a semi-trailer and buses! And, it’s not uncommon for family members to join them on the road. Joel’s wife, Moriah Peters, was on tour with them recently. And Luke had his wife and two small children join them as well.
When asked what it was like to have his wife on tour with him, Joel said, it has really brought them closer together.
“It’s wonderful to both be musicians and to be in this, because you have a sense of understanding and camaraderie and connection. You have those hard discussions, and there’s certainly been moments of discomfort. But I’ve never felt like it’s been a bad thing. I think often we run away from discomfort, but I really feel like our understanding of each other, and the stage, and music, and the show, it has grown our relationship and actually bonded us. It has bonded us more closer together than anything else, just having that camaraderie and connection.”
The message and the lyrics of their music reflect what Joel and Luke are passionate about. They come from a family of seven children, and their song It’s Not Over Yet was written for their youngest sister, who has been ill.
“Libby, (or Elizabeth), has had a pretty severe battle with Lyme’s disease over the last three years. And pretty dark moments, kind of chronic and sleepless nights and all the rest of it, so that was pretty heavy on our hearts. And so this song, It’s Not Over Yet, really the whole lyric was built around encouraging our little sister. It starts off with saying, “There up inside your head you’ve got a voice that says you won’t get past this one. You won’t win your freedom” but it’s really an encouragement to her and to anyone who hears that while there is breath in our lungs, no matter what your situation and no matter how hard the circumstances are, it’s not over yet, you know, and we’ve still got an opportunity to serve, to love well, to find joy, and to bring God’s kingdom to earth if you will.”
The song “Priceless” took some time to write because of the message they wanted to convey to young girls and women about their value and worth. A message they’ve been conveying for a few years now. The song is set to be the theme of a new movie, with the same name, that is in the works from King and Country. Joel stars in the movie and Luke is one of the producers.
“We’ve had this kind of movement as I call it, this priceless movement for a few years, and we’ve always wanted to write a song in regards to it. But frankly I think both Luke and I were really daunted by the task because it’s a sensitive topic that you also want to present in the right way. Even in the new record we kind of shelved the idea. We tried it a few times and we could never quite get it right. I don’t know if it was the inspiration of working on the film or it was just providential timing, but we were working on an anniversary edition for the album, kind of a celebration, of Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. We wanted to put three or four more tracks on it, so we were out on the road in the back of the tour bus, and we started working on this song with a buddy. And sure enough it found its way to becoming what is now Priceless, and I feel I’ve never in the history of the band, gotten emotional listening to a song that I’d been a part of writing, because it feels like one of the more important songs that I’ve ever written.”
Joel recently spent three weeks on the set of “Priceless” the movie, along with his brother-in-law who is one of the producers, who happens to be married to Joel & Luke’s sister, Rebecca St. James! And if you look closely towards the end of the film, Rebecca has “a little bit of a cameo”!