In Conversation with Joel and Luke Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY.
CCLI: Welcome everyone, I’m Paul Herman with CCLI, here again with Joel and Luke Smallbone from the band for KING & COUNTRY. Guys, great to talk to you again.
LUKE: Good to be with you, man.
JOEL: All the way from Nashville, Tennessee.
CCLI: So the new project is coming up. How long has it been?
JOEL: Since our last album? Well, it’s a little deceptive because officially our last project was four years ago. But in between this project and that one, we released a feature-length film, as well as “Priceless” the song and a few others, so we’ve been creatively engaged for the last four years. But this fall will be the release of our 3rd studio album, and we’re almost, almost finished.
CCLI: But you’ve already released a single, “Joy.” Tell us about that.
LUKE: A couple years ago, when we were conjuring up the ideas of what the new album would be, we were sitting down with a label friend of ours, and he said, “So just tell me, what do you think the synopsis of the album will be?” And we said, “We feel like there’s something about Joy… not Christmas joy or cookie-cutter joy, but this joy that has weight and intentionality behind it.” Then we went out a few months later to write with a friend of ours, and we were intrigued to see what he thought. He’s been with us through the whole journey of our music, so we asked “What is something we should write about? What do you see for us?” And he’s a British guy, and he goes [in Luke’s British accent], “I just think there’s something about this word, ‘Joy.’” Then he said, “I have to day-in and day-out wake up and choose joy. Because when I look at the headlines going on in the world, when I look at social media, I’m bombarded with a lot of negativity. So I have to actively choose something, because if I allow the feelings to come, I don’t end up usually being joyful.” So that was kind of the heartbeat, and where the song really came from.
CCLI: I’ve seen the video and it’s incredibly creative. Between that and seeing your live show, I always wonder… where does that creativity and vision come from?
JOEL: Oh, it’s collaboration all the way. And that’s the beauty of it—you can’t say that was one guy or one girl. Our brother Ben does all our video work: he did the film with us, he did that music video with us for “Joy.” So there’s just pieces, I can look at it and say, well there’s some stuff that Luke came up with, he came up with, I came up with, and we put it all together. And honestly, what I love about the creative process—and it’s good even as writers and artists to be reminded of this—you always have to leave room, even down to the final moments. That was a 2-day shoot for that music video out in Los Angeles, and there was a lot on the fly, it was like, “Hey you know what, I think it would be better…” So when you get stuck on the paper or in the system, or this is way to do it, I think you lose a certain edge. What was beautiful about that was, it was free. It was the most fun we’ve had on a music video with moustaches and props…
CCLI: And it showed.
LUKE: Yeah, we had a great time. I remember saying, “Ben, usually we’re working pretty hard with these music videos, but I just had a great time these last couple days.” So that was fun.
CCLI: So in the videos and in your live shows, the variety of instruments that you guys use—the cellos, the horns, the xylophones, glockenspiels—is there an instrument you don’t like or wouldn’t use?
JOEL: The triangle.
LUKE: Yeah, the triangle is a little pedestrian. (Laughs) It’s funny you say that because on “Joy” we even have a cowbell. And I remember thinking when we were putting it on the song, it was like “Nobody’s ever gonna believe us that we put a cowbell on this song, because there was a time for that, we just didn’t that time had been brought into today.” Everything comes back around.
With all those instruments and things, Joel has always loved orchestras and bands, like high school bands, the things that you can do with those instruments are amazing and they’re moving and they’re powerful. We’ve always thought how cool it would be to interject those types of sounds into modern music, so I guess if it’s in an orchestra, then I think we’re willing to potentially pick it up.
CCLI: Well, you’ve done it, and you’ve done it well. It’s been amazing.
JOEL: Thank you, Paul.
CCLI: Guys, it’s always good to check in with you. Can’t wait to hear the new project. All the best to you.
LUKE: Appreciate you, man.
CCLI: Thanks for watching. Take care.