From Australia with love and a big sound
Storming the Memorial Coliseum with eight musicians and 46 instruments
For King & Country is headed back to Indiana to perform Relate, their 2021 fall tour, at the Allen County War Memorial Coliseum on Oct. 8.
The Christian pop duo is composed of Australian brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone. This will be their first time back to Indiana with new music.
But they’ve performed in Indiana many times before in various settings, including smaller venues like churches and larger venues like Lucas Oil Stadium.
Great Hoosier Memories
In an email interview with Whatzup, Joel Smallbone said they have great memories of Indiana.
“It will be significant to come back and experience music again when so much has changed in all of us and we’ve dealt with so much over the last year,” he said.
Smallbone is eager to present their new, never-before-played songs to the world.
With their song “Relate” being young in its release, it will be a testament to the way musicians are able to offer music through streaming platforms in the modern era and reach fans’ lives so quickly.
“There’s always something remarkable about looking out and seeing people mouth the words so quickly after you’ve just released something,” Smallbone said.
He considers the opportunity to play new music on this tour to be very timely.
“I can always tell when there is a need to shift because I have this real clear inkling that it’s time to sing a new song, so to speak,” he said. “It feels very timely after all we’ve faced in the last year and a half, and I’m tickled to present some new production elements that we’ve never explored before as well.”
It’s always exciting for Smallbone to create memories and showcase their music in fresh ways that their fans aren’t expecting.
“You’re quiet on the stage and there’s a hush over the audience, you know that everyone in the room is united in this moment,” he described. “You’re with them, and they are whole-heartedly with you. You sing a melody and a lyric, you play a chord, and you hear the audience resonate and respond — not just with their voices, but almost bursting with their heart, soul, and spirit.”
This moment is very hard fought for, Smallbone explained. There is a lot that goes into that moment that is unseen to the public eye.
Smallbone described the unseen as the process of traveling to get there, the meals leading up to the show, the setup, writing the songs, releasing the songs, promoting the show, and purchasing tickets.
These aspects, while less glamorous, make up the beauty and specialness of those moments.
“And that, amongst all the sacrifice, is what makes it profoundly beautiful to be a part of,” he said.
Big Stage for a Big Sound
The duo’s full stage set-up includes 46 instruments, eight musicians, falling curtains, and streamers shooting into the air.
In their shows, they include storytelling, harmonies, lighting, energy, and drama, but most importantly, heart, meaning, and a sense of hope.
“It is our intent as a musical group to not just entertain our audience, listeners, and viewers, but to spur them on through the difficult moments of life as we all know it,” Smallbone said.
Smallbone sonically described For King & Country’s music as a mix of U2’s rock and melodic elements, drama and emotion of a theatrical score, the Beatles’ harmonies, and Kanye West’s beat, along with a sprinkle of Australian flare.
“If you could take life and love and matters of the spirit and sprinkle them all into music, lyrically you’d end up with For King & Country,” he said.
Back Down Under
At the beginning of 2019, the brothers returned to Australia and performed there for the first time since they were officially For King & Country.
The trip was special in many ways, one being the first show they ever played was at the Sydney Opera House. Not only was that beautiful, but the show was on their late grandfather’s birthday.
“It was this beautiful family moment of commemorating our family’s journey of coming to the States and starting a new life, and the cost that came with that of not being able to return for my grandfather’s funeral all those years ago,” Smallbone explained.
To see a sense of redemption and healing come from that moment was powerful for the brothers and their entire family.
Additionally, the brothers were unsure of how their Australian countrymen would receive them but were pleasantly surprised.
“The Sydney Opera House was sold out almost two times over and that reception was radical for us,” he said.
With the pandemic, the uncertainty was the biggest challenge for the pair.
“The stories you would tell yourself about where the world was heading — the dangers and the fears, some that were realized, and many that never came to fruition,” Smallbone said. “And as a self-proclaimed control freak, that can be difficult.”
More than that, Smallbone feels that the hardest part of the last year is that it actually hasn’t been that bad for him. Ultimately, he’s struggled with survivor’s remorse. His family is still well, and he’s still had the opportunity to make music, but he looks around and sees so many who have lost so much.
“I feel a sense of guilt that I didn’t pay the price more deeply, at least to this point,” he said.
As far as the future of For King & Country, Smallbone said, now more than ever, it’s hard to envision.
“But I’ll tell you what I hope for,” he said. “I hope that this music reaches more ears than ever before, and based on the shared universal loss that we’ve had through the pandemic, that it will be relatable more deeply than maybe it ever has been to our listeners.”
Smallbone also hopes to have greater opportunities to travel internationally to places like Europe, Asia, South Africa, and beyond.