For King and Country’s Joel Smallbone has a theory. Sitting backstage at Talking Stick Resort Arena before the Nazarene Youth Conference performance, he shares his secret about musicians.
“Musicians want to be athletes and most athletes want to be musicians,” he says with a laugh.
Those careers will collide on Friday, September 13, when For King and Country performs after the Arizona Diamondbacks-Cincinnati Reds game as part of Faith and Family Night at Chase Field.
“I read a long article in the USA Today about A. Rod (Alex Rodriguez) and him marrying Jennifer Lopez and the corner he’s turned in the last year,” Smallbone says. “Does that qualify as knowing about baseball?”
For King and Country—which also includes Joel’s brother, Luke—is celebrating the success of its latest single “God Only Knows.” The band recently filmed a video with guest vocalist Dolly Parton. The single features Echosmith’s single Sydney Sierota.
“The beauty of the modern era is that you could have these collaborations with people and not be in the same state or in the same room like Timbaland,” he says.
“We wanted a female vocalist to sing on the song. We sent Sydney our thoughts and within a week she was in the microphone booth singing her part. A few weeks later, we did it live in an arena in L.A. and we filmed it. It just came together in this beautiful crescendo.”
Luke Smallbone is surprised at song’s reception.
“What’s really special is a lot of times when you do another version of the song, people (question why). It’s been received so beautifully.”
“God Only Knows” recently won “Song of the Year” honors at the K-LOVE awards.
“We try to write music that’s very true to our hearts,” Joel says. “The first record was about relationship turmoil. There are a lot of breakup songs on that.
“On the second one, Luke had worked through some pretty severe health issues (ulcerative colitis). There was this good ying and yang between us of pulling stories out of us. This record is very balanced. The title track, ‘Burn the Ships,’ was written about Luke and Courtney his wife’s journey through addiction and overcoming that.”
He recalled Courtney saying if she could kick her addiction, she would want to share her story with others. The Smallbones regularly do that on tour.
For King and Country will return to Arizona in October to perform at Tucson Arena on its “Burn the Ships World Tour.” The jaunt will see the duo bring the bow of the proverbial “ship” to life with a new stage and lighting setup.
The album “Burn the Ships” hit stores in October 2018 and debuted at No. 7 on the Billboard Top 200 album chart. “God Only Knows” reached No. 1 and has hit close to 50 million global on-demand streams.
The brothers are more than musicians. They released the indie film, “Priceless,” in October 2016. It was inspired by the No. 1 hit of the same name about human trafficking.
“The hardest part for me was losing the Australian dialect,” says Joel who, along with his brother, will begin work on a new feature film in December. “So, I started doing band conference calls with Luke and our dad with an American accent. They were like, ‘What are you talking about?’
“I think we pulled it off, hopefully. I gave it my best shot.”