Exclusive Interview: for KING & COUNTRY Talks Crazy Rich Asians & Teases New Film

Two-time Grammy Award-winning duo ‘for KING & COUNTRY’ will be performing at Gateway Theatre on 11 February 2019. Comprised of brothers Joel and Luke Smallbone, the duo is currently in the midst of their world tour titled after their latest release, Burn The Ships.

We’ve recently sat down with Joel Smallbone over Skype, who told us more about their lil’ crazy obsession with Crazy Rich Asians, and teased about a new film in the works.

How would you describe your music to those who have never heard of ‘for KING & COUNTRY’?

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It’s theatrical, and it’s got a lot of drums in it. There are eight of us on stage, and there are about 46 instruments that we kind of switch around and play throughout the night. So, it’s quite an extravagant evening for sure.

What do you look forward to in Singapore?

for King & Country: Cape G edits

Well, we did just watch Crazy Rich Asians. My wife is coming with me – she’s very excited because she has watched that film like five times so far. The closest I’ve been to Singapore was when I was flying back from Australia as a young man – I spent a little bit of time at your airport.

But you hear so much in America and Australia – around the world – about the beauty of Singapore, about the incredible infrastructure and the city itself…You hear so much about the cleanliness and the people, and the airline – Singapore Airlines – is like the greatest in the world. Your reputation precedes you, so we’re really excited to come, but most of all –excited to come and just meet the people. I think that’s what is most thrilling for us.

‘joy.’ has been nominated for the Grammys, congratulations! Any thoughts or feelings about it, especially since you will be watching the Grammys the morning before your live in Singapore?

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Well, awards are a funny thing because, in the end, it’s just a trophy. But it’s what it represents that I think is very special to us. This last album, Burn The Ships – which ‘joy.’ is one of the songs on that record – we poured so much heart and soul and passion and honesty into the record. So, for it to now be – that song, particularly – recognised by the Grammy Association and its members, it’s really special, to say the least.

That song wasn’t an easy song to write. We did 86 different versions of it before we finished it. That makes it even more special because we worked so hard on just getting the idea and sentiment of the song right.

It is also said that Burn The Ships is one of your most personal works to date. Which song in the album speaks to you the most and why?

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Yeah, this is a very personal record. One of the songs in the album is called ‘Control’, and I’m a bit of a control freak – a recovering control freak. In writing this song, I actually had written the chorus five years ago. Luke and I had written the chorus, but we could never find the right verses or the right bridge – and so we didn’t finish the song. And then, as providence would have it, I was flying from Nashville, Tennessee in the United States – where we live now – to just outside of London, England to work with one of our producers.

As I was on the plane – this was just as we worked on this latest record – I was thinking about what songs I should play for him, and I thought about that chorus from five years ago. I had also written two other songs for this record more recently, so I thought, “I’ll play him all of these songs”. So when I did, I sat down, I played him the whole record as it stood; and I played him that chorus, as well as these other two songs that I had written. And he looked at me, and he said, “You know, you’ve been trying to write the same song for five years.”

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He said basically these three songs were the same song, so we took different pieces from each of the songs and we kind of put them together and it became this song, Control – a very, very honest song of surrender for me. There’s a load of very personal songs, but that’s particularly one.

Another one would be a song – the last on the record – called ‘Pioneers’, which Luke and I sang with our wives. It’s kind of a very romantic song.

Some of the fans in Singapore may not know this: In 2016, you guys released a film titled ‘Priceless’. Since it was not screened in Singapore, could you tell your fans what the movie was about and what made you guys decide to do this film?

We were very fortunate to be part of that film. I was actually one of the actors in it, and Luke was one of the producers. It’s a love story; it’s a drama, and it kind of – it appears in the film at least – drops you into the world of human trafficking and the sex trade. It sheds light on the epidemic that is around the world today, so it was a very meaningful project to be part of, but we also felt a very important one.

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In the middle of working on the movie, we were really impacted by experiencing it, and so we wrote a song that ended up going under the same title, and that’s the song that we sing every night during the show – the song’s called ‘Priceless’.

If you had the chance to produce one more film, what social issue would it talk about and why?

So, we’re actually right in the process – we’re actually working with a screenwriter on another film. It’s a very different film than what Priceless was. It’s a Christmas film, and it’s (going to) have music more as a central theme in it. I can’t tell too much more right now, but it will happen. It might take a few years, but it will definitely happen.

Moving forward, what can fans expect from for KING & COUNTRY?

This year we’re really doing a world tour – both New Zealand and Australia, Philippines, Singapore and the United States. We will also be working on this film. Next year, we might work on a few more songs for the record and maybe even release a full-length Christmas album, so we’ll see. It’s all talk at this point, but that’s kind of the plan.

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Lastly, is there anything you would like to tell your fans in Singapore?

Just a personal invitation, really. If you like us and you love music, and you love theatrical scores and stories, and celebrating together, then I think you will really enjoy and appreciate the concept. I think the other thing that’s really special about (our shows) is literally we see everyone from 2-year-olds to 82-year-olds – we see all different ages come together to these concerts – so it’s a show you can bring your whole family for. It will be our first time in Singapore, so we’re very excited to be part of it.

for KING & COUNTRY Burn the Ship World Tour – Live in Singapore


Date: Monday, 11 February 2019
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Gateway Theatre, 3615 Jalan Bukit Merah, Singapore 159461

Tickets start at S$28. If you have yet to purchase your tickets, use the code “HAPPYCNY” for $5 off tickets during checkout! 

For more information, visit

Visuals courtesy of Smallbone Management and The Assembly Asia

Deepa d/o Chevi Vadivelu

Animal and music lover, bookworm and movie enthusiast. #blackismyhappycolour

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