By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
For King & Country’s Luke Smallbone didn’t necessarily feel down about the quarantine. It gave him time to slow down.
“Everybody’s situation is different,” Smallbone says. “For me and my household, it was an amazing reprieve. I’m just gone—in and out of town a lot. I was able to be home for the longest time in our marriage, and we’ve been married for 10 years.
“Last year, I said, ‘I’d love to be able to take six months off and just be home.’ I didn’t think it would come with a pandemic. We live on a little farm. We bought some cows—eight cows. We were doing things I wouldn’t otherwise get to do. We were able to make some memories that otherwise wouldn’t exist. I hope for better circumstances, but it’s great to be home.”
Now, however, he and his brother, Joel, are returning to the stage for “A Drummer Boy Drive-In: The Christmas Tour” to celebrate the duo’s first holiday album, “A Drummer Boy Christmas.” The tour includes a stop at Gila River Arena’s parking lot on Saturday, November 21.
Smallbone says the album, which was in the works for “years,” was no easy task.
“In the past, we overemphasized every tiny little detail,” he says. “With that, you lose a little bit of the big picture. We had to get this thing done in a certain time frame. We had to go in with our intuition the first time around, and we didn’t have an option to go back.
“Every record that you ever make is a small miracle. There are so many things that have to go according to plan. We tracked most of this while the pandemic was going on. It was mixed in London, with some tracking in LA, mastered in New York and also tracked in Nashville. Yet we were all basically in our homes.”
With the live shows, the Grammy Award-winning Australian brothers teamed with the Salvation Army and ask concertgoers to bring new, unwrapped toys. The goodies will be collected by representatives from the nonprofit and distributed to families struggling during the holiday season.
“When we first came to America, we didn’t have any money,” he says. “If it wasn’t for our family being a first-grade class project, we wouldn’t have been able to have Christmas.
“We were looking at the idea of not being able to have gifts under the Christmas tree. The idea of gifts isn’t what defines Christmas. It is the element of Jesus and his birth. It’s a gift. It’s representing the birth. Partnering with the Salvation Army, it’s a way to remember what it was like to come to a new country, a place where we had nothing. We’re at a situation where we had this opportunity to give back to people and Rescue Christmas.”
For King & Country is saving Christmas in other ways. With collectives like Mannheim Steamroller and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra grounded due to the pandemic, For King & Country is providing holiday entertainment across the country.
“I say from the stage every night how grateful we are that people come out and join us for these drive-in events,” Smallbone says. “For us to do these shows for people in cars—and doing it safely—it’s a real honor for us.”
For King & Country’s A Drummer Boy Drive In: The Christmas Tour, 7 p.m. Saturday, November 21, Gila River Arena, 9400 W. Maryland Avenue, Glendale, tickets start at $99, ticketmaster.com.