By: Laura Bennett

From our vantage point in Australia, the global success of Aussie brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone and their band For King & Country can feel intangible.  

They’ve toured Europe and the Americas, won four Grammy Awards, collaborated with Dolly Parton, made two feature films including the upcoming Unsung Hero and continually feature on the Billboard and Dove Award winners list – and yet, because it all happens “over there” away from the shores they once called home, their impact can be overlooked.

However, this May and June, for KING + COUNTRY will bring the full force of their musical heritage to Australia.

“On our Homecoming Tour [we’ll] be bringing more of the bells and whistles [and] take a lot of what we’ve been doing here in the Northern Hemisphere down south more officially for the first time,” says Joel Smallbone.

Energetic photos of Luke and Joel Smallbone from their concerts

Testing the waters in 2019 with what became two sold out shows at the Sydney Opera House, for KING + COUNTRY’s return to Australia solidifies what, at one point, they thought was an uncertain bond with their birth country.

“In 2019 we were pretty frightened coming down. It was our first official time as a band, and you know the adage a prophet’s not welcome in his hometown? We [knew] we still consider ourselves Australian, but do Australian’s still consider us Australian? But there was this beautiful poetry to our returning to Australia, and our first event being at the Sydney Opera House.”

In the years since, the band have expanded into a more “theatrical space” with Joel appearing in the Christmas musical movie Journey to Bethlehem, and filming the upcoming feature film Unsung Hero which tells the story of the Smallbone’s disgraced exit from Australia in the 80’s, onto their success in the States beginning with the career of sister Rebecca St. James.

“[We’ve] told our family’s story from stage at nearly every concert we’ve ever done,” the band shared on Instagram. “As many of you may know our Dad was a concert promoter in Australia, and on one particular tour things didn’t go very well and we lost everything that we had. He got a job offer in Nashville and thought it’d be a good idea to bring his 6 kids and his wife (who was pregnant at the time) to America, then shortly afterwards actually lost that job. It dawned on us about four years ago that this story of immigrating from Australia to America and all the adventures and challenges we’ve walked through in between was a story that needed to be told – so we made a movie.”

It might be easier said than done to make a movie, but there’s a tenacious pace and commitment for KING + COUNTRY seem to operate with that makes the achievement totally plausible.

Will they ever slow down?

“Creativity is seasonal,” Joel said.

“You get to a point in anything where you start asking yourself, ‘What is the next era of for KING + COUNTRY?,” Joel said. “I think [the next era] has to do with stepping into a more theatrical space, [and] quality over quantity as far as touring [so we can] leave space for family and our wives and space to create in this season. I feel like there’s a change afoot. What that is we’re just going to stay sensitive to the spirit on, but we’re enjoying it and we’re not slowing down – don’t be worried.”

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