Two Australian brothers who found themselves in Nashville, Tennessee, as young people want to make sure that others know “You Matter.”
Joel and Luke Smallbone are the band For King & Country, which released its second album “Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.” in the past month.
The “You Matter” tour, which stops Nov. 1 at Istrouma Baptist Church, will address a topic that’s been in headlines recently.
Joel Smallbone talked about the duo’s plans for the show, which include speaking out about “the importance of respect and honor and a woman’s worth. And that women matter.”
That idea, Smallbone said, has been “built into the DNA” of the band since its origin. “We’ve really not strayed from that. … It’s something we’ve been modeled for as young men and family. It’s something we endeavor to do as all seven of us (siblings) are now married. As of about three months ago, the final couple of fellows got married.
“It’s obviously extra potent with some of the headlines that have been coming out more recently, but it is something we will carry on sharing long after the headlines die away.”
The new album means the group has more music to play, and Smallbone said the band intends to take advantage of that.
“This is the largest production we’ve ever brought out on tour with us, so lighting and theatrics will not be as you’ve seen us before. … There’s no support acts, no other bands, no other artists with us. Just a night with For King & Country,” he said.
Most of the tour’s shows have sold out, so, Smallbone cautioned, “We’d love for you to be there, but I wouldn’t delay.”
For King & Country comes from a musical background. The brothers’ father was a concert promoter in Australia.
“He would bring over some of the old classic artists of the ’80s, such as Amy Grant or Petra, Stryper, Whiteheart. … even Carmen,” Smallbone said.
In the early ’90s, the family moved to the United States, but shortly after arriving, their father lost his job.
“We were literally sleeping on beds made of clothes in a furnitureless house, without a car.
“We would sit in a circle and say a prayer for anything and everything we needed in life. … We just had nowhere else to turn and saw God do pretty miraculous things.”
Those miracles included someone anonymously paying his mother’s hospital bill for the birth of the seventh sibling, who was born shortly after they moved.
Smallbone also talked about their first Thanksgiving. “Naturally as Australians, we didn’t know what on Earth Thanksgiving was. … We found ourselves at someone’s home. They just sort of opened their doors and said, ‘Whoever wants to join us at Thanksgiving, come on.’ At the end of the night, the father of the house walked up to my mom and said, ‘We want to give you the keys to our brand new minivan.’”
It was through that night the family got its American music start.
“Our older sister, who professionally went by the name Rebecca St. James, began traveling,” he said.
There were five pre-teen or teenage boys, and “We kind of half joke that Dad needed cheap labor. He put us all to work out on these tours. Everything from stage managing to road managing to background vocals, lighting, merchandising, spotlighting, you name it,” Smallbone said. “We all kind of carried on the mission since.”
The brothers have faced a lot of stress in the past year.
Joel married just over a year ago, and at the same time, brother Luke’s digestive disorder got so bad that the tall artist dropped to 125 pounds. The pair was also touring and working on a new album.
“There were so many things going on, we felt a certain frailty as a group. We just felt, not that we were at risk of falling apart, we just felt we didn’t have it in us,” he said. “We realized in that process (of recording the album on the road and in New York and in Los Angeles) that when we are frail, God is powerful. That is something that has carried us through to date, leaning on Jesus through the process has pointed us in the right direction.”
All in a name
The duo came up with the band name while working on their first album. It “derives from an old English/British battle cry.”
Smallbone said, “Australia is part of the British Commonwealth still. We have the queen on all of our currency, so we feel an affinity with the Brits. When we heard about this mantra that was chanted hundreds of years ago as soldiers were going to bleed for what they believe or stand for something greater than themselves, we thought what a great phrase. What a meaningful phrase as humans and even spiritually.
“So we adopted that not only as our band name but as our own battle cry or mantra as musicians.”