For King & Country, stylized as for KING & COUNTRY and formerly known as Joel & Luke as well as Austoville, is a Christian pop duo composed of Australian brothers Joel (born 5 June 1984) and Luke Smallbone (born 22 October 1986). The Nashville-based brothers' 2012 debut record Crave has received praise, and the brothers were declared by Billboard as one of the "New Artists To Watch" for 2012. American Songwriter described them as "Australia's answer to Coldplay."
SUSIE Magazine raves, "It takes only one listen to the brothers' rich, upbeat, alternative sounds and thoughtful lyrics to understand their sudden popularity."
They describe their philosophy as such: "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."
They cite U2, Mutemath, OneRepublic, the Beatles, Goo Goo Dolls, and Switchfoot, as well as film scores such as those from Braveheart and Gladiator, as their musical influences.
During high school, the brothers supplied background vocals and other supporting roles for their sister, Rebecca St. James, and various bands in concerts across America. Shortly after Luke graduated from high school, the brothers decided to explore the possibility of forming a band, and in 2007, they began performing as their own band. They began their career with the band name "Joel & Luke", which they later changed to "Austoville".
In 2008, they released an EP, A Tale of Two Towns with six songs, three of which appeared on Crave with slightly different melodies and lyrics ("Missing", "Sane", and "Love's to Blame") and three others entitled "Broken Lullabies", "Believe Me Now", and "Something's Gotta Give". Love's to Blame was co-written by St. James.
In 2009, they signed on with Warner Music Group with Ben Glover as their producer. They changed their name to "For King & Country", after a British battle cry. Luke said,
"We wanted a band name that carried more meaning. We were in the studio recording our debut record that Joel had the idea of All The King's Men, like the Humpty Dumpty nursery rhyme. Our producer overheard our conversation and swung around in his chair and said, 'What about For King & Country?' And we all felt a sense of providence in that moment. "For King and Country" was the battle cry of English soldiers willing to lay down their lives for their king and their country. And now it has become our mission, to lay down our lives for our King and our country."
In 2011, they released For King & Country: The EP. Their song "Busted Heart (Hold On To Me)" was released as a single and peaked at No. 3 on Billboard's Christian Songs chart. They described "Busted Heart" as "really a universal cry of humanity for something greater than ourselves...We think we've got it all sorted out, and life will deal you those blows." "Busted Heart" was the fastest-rising single of 2011 in their genre, climbing the Top 10 for weeks.
Their debut album Crave was released on 28 February 2012. The album hit No. 2 on the iTunes top Christian & Gospel albums on its day of release and No. 42 on the overall chart. It peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Christian Albums chart, and remained on the chart for 41 weeks. It also reached No. 128 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album has received rave reviews from critics. Shortly after Crave's release, they released "The Proof of Your Love" as a single, remixed and titled "The Proof of Your Love: The Monologue Mix". The single differs from the album version with a monologue spoken by Joel from 1 Corinthians 13:1-7 (The Message) as the bridge instead of the guitar riff on the album version. The single reached No. 8 on Billboard's Hot Christian Songs chart and spent 29 weeks on the chart. The band toured on the 2012 Winter Jam Tour Spectacular. In May 2012, they appeared on the Huckabee show on Fox News Channel.
Their debut hit song, "Busted Heart (Hold on to Me)" was featured on 28 October 2012 episode of VH1's "Rehab with Dr. Drew." Among other television placements, their songs "People Change" and "Love's To Blame" have been featured The CW's Vampire Diaries, and "Light It Up" and "Sane" have been featured on the Lifetime show Drop Dead Diva. In July 2012, they announced The Proof of Your Love Tour with Jason Castro and Dara Maclean to visit 30 cities from September through November 2012. In October 2012, they released an original Christmas song entitled "Baby Boy"; it reached No. 20 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. During the summer of 2013, the band was forced to take time off when the 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) Luke dropped to 125 pounds (57 kg) due to an attack of ulcerative colitis. In June 2013, Joel Smallbone appeared in a non-singing role as King Xerxes in the film, The Book of Esther from Pure Flix Entertainment.
In August 2013, the band released Hope Is What We Crave: Live, a live album and DVD, both recorded at The Factory in Nashville on the last night of the band's first headlining tour. They also released "Hope Is What We Crave" as a single. It is a reworked version of "Crave" from their album. They toured with Casting Crowns starting in February 2014.
For King and Country released a new album Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong. on 16 September 2014. The album spent 17 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 13, and reached No. 12 on the Digital Albums Chart. The band performed their songs "Run Wild" and "Fix My Eyes" on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on 25 March 2015. They were part of the Winter Jam Tour 2015 in the central and eastern parts of the United States and part of Winter Jam 2016. The duo released a deluxe anniversary edition of the album on 23 October 2015, including three new songs: "Priceless", "Ceasefire" and "Wholehearted", as well as a reworked version of "It's Not Over Yet", called "The Encore".
In 2016, Curb Records acquired Warner Music Group's stake in the band's record label, Word Entertainment, thus becoming King & Country's record label.
After releasing their second album, the brothers focused much of their time on the feature film Priceless, which stars Joel in a story about human trafficking. They wrote several songs for the film, part of the reason it took four years to release their next studio album. They also wrote a song, accompanied by a music video, entitled "Ceasefire" for the 2016 adaptation of Ben-Hur; the song was used in the second official trailer for the film and released as part of the official soundtrack.
On 27 October 2017, they released A For King & Country Christmas Live, and shortly thereafter embarked on "A Glorious Christmas" tour with Casting Crowns.
In February 2017, the duo announced that they had begun work on their third studio album.
The lead single from their third studio album is entitled "joy." and was released in May 2018. It reached #35 on Billboard's Adult Top 40 chart and #2 on the Hot Christian Songs chart. The album, entitled Burn the Ships, was released on 5 October 2018. The brothers described it as "most mature record that we've made just in understanding who we are as a duo, who we are as men and maybe understanding life because we are a bit older than we were last time around." Two of the songs were written about the weighty topics of addiction and suicide, and three were written to and about their wives (who sing in the final track, "Pioneers", and appear in the accompanying music video). The album contains ten songs and they released five music videos to accompany them.
Joel David Smallbone was born on 5 June 1984 and Luke James Smallbone was born on 22 October 1986. Both were born in Sydney, to David and Helen Smallbone, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1991, after their father's job relocation. Their father was a music promoter, and Joel recalls, "going to these rock concerts, sitting on my father's shoulders, plugging my ears...Honestly, 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." The Smallbones are the younger brothers of Christian recording artist and speaker Rebecca St. James, and the brothers-in-law of Jacob Fink, former bassist for the band Foster the People. They were raised with another sister, Libby, and three other brothers, Ben, Dan, and Josh.
On 26 June 2010, Luke married Courtney Helm. Their first child, Jude James Smallbone, was born on 19 December 2012. They also have a son, Phoenix Alexander. In late 2016, Luke announced via social media that he and his wife are expecting their third child. On 7 July 2013, Joel married Moriah Peters, who is also a recording artist, in California. The couple saved their first kiss for their wedding day. They now reside in Nashville, Tennessee.
The brothers are both dual citizens of Australia and the United States.
2012 - Crave
2014 - Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong.
2018 - Burn the Ships
Sources: Last.fm, Wikipedia
For King & Country in the news
|Songs by For King & Country|