Christian Duo for KING & COUNTRY's Album Tackles Personal Family Battle with Addiction
Duo for KING & COUNTRY just set sail after the release of their newest album Burn the Ships Friday.
The two-man Christian band, comprising Australian brothers Luke and Joel Smallbone, talked to PEOPLE about the release of their album, which is built on personal stories of love, faith and the state of the United States.
“The album is built around this concept of ‘where are we’ socially, politically [and] as a nation,” Joel, 34, explains.
Luke, 31, added that the album’s title Burn the Ships stems from a personal anecdote involving his wife’s brief battle with a potential addiction.
His wife Courtney, who is featured alongside the duo and Joel’s wife Moriah Peters on “Pioneers,” had been experiencing constant nausea while pregnant. Luke detailed how a doctor prescribed medication to alleviate her symptoms, and encouraged her to take more as the nausea worsened.
After getting a call from his wife while the brothers were on tour, Luke knew something was wrong.
“I was in Austin, Texas one night with a show scheduled that evening and my wife called me and said, ‘Hey, I need you to come home,’” Luke recalls. “She had never asked me to do that before.”
The youngest brother flew back, where he arrived to “realize we had a problem on our hands.” Courtney was becoming overly reliant on the medicine.
The couple then went to a mental health facility, where she would be sent into therapy briefly.
“And after that she started to improve,” Luke explains. “A little while later we were home and she had a bottle of pills and she was like, ‘I need to go and flush these pills’ because these pills represent so much guilt and so much shame.’”
Courtney’s fight inspired the duo’s album as a whole and the first song they wrote off the album: “Burn the Ships.”
With lyrics like “So flush the pills, face the fear / Feel the wave disappear,” the two-time Grammy-winning duo make direct mention to the heart-wrenching moments the couple faced.
“Her story, paired with the one I read of the Spanish explorer ordering his men to ‘BURN THE SHIPS’ is what inspired the message behind this album,” the duo wrote in a letter to fans Friday.
The album’s lead single “joy.” confronts life in a different light. After 86 different versions, Joel explains they were able to create a fun and lighthearted song with a deep meaning.
“Joy.” has already garnered nearly 11 million plays on Spotify.
“There’s a lot going on,” he says. The amount of information that we’re absorbing in 2018 is crazy. It’s crazy. There’s a lot of questions in the record as a whole, and even in that song ‘joy.’ How do we keep finding our way forward?”
The music video, which features Candace Cameron Bure from Fuller House, follows a 1960s parody-themed newscast, which slowly transitions from being black and white and down to one that is filled with color as Cameron Bure’s character becomes more positive about the state of the world.
“There’s another road and it leads to joy and the idea that’s more that unites us than divides us,” Joel says of “joy.”
Now, as the two embark on a U.S. tour to promote their album, the duo says they’re “excited for these songs to hopefully have an impact” on people’s lives.
“It all kind of makes sense when these songs become other people’s songs,” Luke says. “We’ve exposed our stories from our hearts. And the reason why we do that is because we believe that other people are going through similar things.”