Interview: for KING & COUNTRY
Mon, 30 Mar 2015 15:26:19
for KING & COUNTRY Videos
for KING & COUNTRY recently won the Grammy Award for “Best Contemporary Christian Music Album” with RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG, and the album exerts a powerful impact. They tell us all about it in-depth, and you’ll know why! The brotherly duo of Joel & Luke Smallbone make uplifting, unique, and undeniable music with a footing in classic rock, pop, alternative, and beyond. However, it’s also got a sweeping cinematic soul that immediately elevates the songs to larger-than-life status. This is as empowering as music gets in this day and age, and that’s why it’s so essential.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Joel & Luke Smallbone of for KING & COUNTRY talk RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG and so much more.
What was your collective vision for RUN WILD. LIVE FREE. LOVE STRONG.?
Joel: I don’t want to speak too much on behalf of Luke and I, but being brothers, there’s an understanding that we both have and even a trust we have about where for KING & COUNTRY is going. I think, on this our sophomore record and even the first, there were three things we wanted to do. One was to write from the heart, write about the human experience, and write honestly. Secondly, it was taking a lot of the live musical experience. There are seven of us on stage. It’s a ragamuffin group on stage. We all played on the album. Luke and I primarily write and sing, but it’s a very collaborative thing. The third thing is we do want to take people on a musical journey rather than give them three-and-a-half minute soundbites.
That journey happens both musically and lyrically. Both work in conjunction.
Luke: Well, a lot of soundtracks and old music actually doesn’t have any lyrics. If you listen to, there’s a brilliant story that you can almost hear being played out. Our hope is to merge those two. We have lyrics in our music. We want our lyrics to represent the music, and we want the lyrics to represent the music. For Joel and I, the process we have, which is creating the whole song at once, builds a complete song. Our hope is that it’s musically and lyrically attached at the hip.
Is it important for you to tell stories with the songs?
Joel: It’s like anything. I’d feel most connected with you, Rick, if we were to sit down, have a coffee, and tell our stories. That’s the relation. Then there’s that, “Oh man, I went through a similar thing the other day when this happened!” I feel like music is the melodic version of that. You sit down and listen to a song and go, “I don’t know where he or she was writing or what experiences he or she came from, but that’s putting words to exactly how I feel.” From the beginning, it’s imperative that we write about what we’re walking through at that moment creatively, but almost as directly as we can.
How does the writing shake down between the two of you?
Luke: That’s the funny thing about music and creativity. It changes all the time. Sometimes, I’ll be singing in the shower, get an idea, and then we go to the studio. Or, Joel will do the same. He might just have a lyrical idea. Usually, it starts with something musically. Then, we move into melodies and lyrics. From that process, we’re creating the tracks and music. There’s no set formula, but there is a rhythm we find within the first ten or fifteen minutes.
Joel: This album was very different in some ways that a lot of it was written on the road. A lot of the band guys were playing on it out there. We set up a studio in the back lounge of the tour bus. That’s another peculiarity as well. It was written in Los Angeles, on freeways across the country, and elsewhere. Hopefully, it doesn’t have a regimented sound like, “This is how we do it every time.”
You capture a natural energy in the moment.
Joel: We need to talk to you every day Rick [Laughs].
That’s doable! What are the stories behind “It’s Not Over Yet” and “O God Forgive Us?”
Joel: It’s like we said about that sitting down for coffee moment, there’s always a personal experience you’re coming from. On the flip side of the coin, there’s a question of, “How do we want people to receive the song?” This is the personal experience. Luke and I are two of seven kids, originally from Australia. The family is five boys and two girls. We are a very close family. When we moved to America, dad lost his job shortly after we got here. We were all kids. The whole family banded together. We did everything from raking leaves and mowing lawns to mom and our oldest sister cleaned houses. It was anything, and it all went back into the family fund. We saw an incredible kindness and almost a miraculous thing where people really helped us. For instance, the first Thanksgiving we were in America, someone gave us the keys to their brand new car the first night they met us. It was Thanksgiving night. We found ourselves at these people’s house. They just opened their door to anyone who wanted to join. The father of the house said to our mom, “We want you to take the keys to our brand new minivan because we know you guys are in need.” People found out we didn’t have any furniture, and they dropped off furniture. We didn’t have any money for our little sister to be born in a hospital so someone anonymously paid for the whole bill. The fact that Luke and I are even working together as brothers can be correlated to that time as a family. With regards to that, “It’s Not Over Yet” was written about our younger sister. She’s in her early twenties now, and she’s had a real struggle with Lyme Disease. It’s very elusive, and it knocks you over. It can be debilitate you. That’s for her saying, “Life is just beginning. It’s not over yet. You’ve got to find hope.” On the flip side of that coin, it’s been great to see how people have found their own meanings in the song.
Luke: “O God Forgive Us” is about the difficulties, strange things that take place in life, and the doubt we have about life as well as the challenges there. Sometimes, the wars we have going on inside we’re saying, “O God forgive us for these things!” It’s an intimate song for us in a world with a lot of crazy things going on. It’s our little plea from our hearts.
What artists shaped you?
Joel:I remember looking at vinyl records in Sydney Australia as a three-year-old kid. I’d blaze it over the soundsystem. For me, I love theatrical scores. U2 is another one. I love classic Joshua Tree U2—just how provoking they are as both writers and presenters of music and how they’ve banded together.
Luke: When we were much younger, the artist Seal was an influence. That’s where we get a lot of our desire for harmony and layers for vocals. I did that incredibly well on “Kissed By a Rose.”
If the new album were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
Joel: Good question! We’ve never been asked that before. Another band I’d throw into the melting pot of inspiration is Tears for Fears. They had a great balance between digital and organic instrumentation. To connect that to a theatrical score, I’d say Tron: Legacy. Daft Punk oversaw the whole thing. There was an interesting balance between these Juno-esque synths and throwback and merging it with this wonderful orchestral moment. I’d say Tron, if I had to pick.
Watch their Live Performance Music Video of "Fix My Eyes"
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