“The power of music can impact our mood, emotions, our day. But when you merge the strength of music with the heart, hope and passion of the Gospel… it has the ultimate power not only to change someone’s day, but to impact them for eternity. This is why we write music and sing songs – we hope that people will be moved, encouraged and stirred to live a life for Someone greater than themselves.” (wikipedia: Crossrhythms.co.uk. 23 May 2012)
For KING & COUNTRY Formerly known on the music scene as Joel & Luke, the Smallbone brothers have been called everything from Billboard 2012’s “Artists to watch” to “Austalia’s answer to Coldplay.” With heartfelt lyrics, harmonics that tickle the ears, and upbeat sounds they describe themselves as “international pop-rock”. Just awarded in October the Dove award for 2013 New Artist of the Year, these two are definitely no strangers to the music scene, know what they’re doing, and are on their way to the up-and fast.
Born in Sydney and younger brothers of popular Contemporary Christian Artist Rebecca St. James, Joel & Luke moved to Nashville, TN in 1991 where a lot of their life was full of concerts or music event with their large family or with their father. They grew up constantly surrounded by the music business as a natural part of their life, “My father was a promoter in Australia and so we grew up as a musically-centered family. I remember going to these rock shows, sitting on his shoulders, plugging my ears. It was very influential at an early age and I saw the power of music and how a melody fused with a lyric can impact someone’s life, in a lot of ways I feel like music chose me and as I grew older, I made a clear decision to fully lean into it.” -Joel
As they got older and into high school, more of their time was spent in background vocals or traveling with their sister and other bands. In 2007 they formed their own band and started performing as Joel & Luke, then later Austoville. In 2008, with 6 songs — some co-written with their sister– they decided it was time they test the waters and release their EP A Tale of Two Towns. Though still not quite a smash hit, it wasn’t until 2009 when they signed on to Warner Music Group, with Ben Glover. They wanted something that would really give it that extra push. They threw around ideas then thought about changing their name, yet again,
“While working on our debut record, I came up with the idea of calling us ‘All the Kings Men,’ but it just didn’t fit exactly with what we were looking for. We were in the studio with our producer and he said, ‘what about for king and country?’ The history of that phrase is that back in the olden days, the British would go into battle shouting, chanting, ‘For King and Country,’ sort of as an anthem of fighting for something that they believed wholeheartedly in. We all looked at each other in the studio and we just knew that was it.” -Luke
Stories, like one about a friend they knew that would sit alone in the dark and depressed. Those are things that inspire them to write songs like “Light It Up”; touching the lives of people they may not be able to reach otherwise. “We want to deliver a message that is about believing in something much bigger than oneself. The title track of the album has a line in the chorus that very plainly says, ‘hope is what we crave.’ You can confidently go through the ups and downs in your life because you know that life isn’t all about you and what you do but rather the hope and salvation of Christ.” When they finally had the courage to talk to their friend about the inspiration for the song he was at first upset called them after 20 minutes crying. Their friend was so moved and encouraged by the hope and compassion the brothers had shown him with the emotion behind their music and lyrics. “I want to be known for writing music that is authentic, real and from the heart. Music has been a very therapeutic thing for us. There’s a lot of blood, sweat and tears that went into this record and what spurred us on is this whole idea that we can make a difference. That music, our music, can have the power to impact someone’s life for the better.” -Joel
When they’re not touring, Joel and Luke are very passionate about a separate project they’ve started working on called the “Respect and Honor campaign”. A lot of our culture nowadays encourage women to act, dress, and let guys treat them like they’re not worth any more than a penny. The message they’re sharing in interviews and at shows is about the real God that see women as priceless jewels. Selling bracelets for men to wear and remind them to step up, girls can also wear them remind them of their worth. As young men they want to start a revolution of treating the opposite sex with respect and honor.