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Fit for a King’s Ryan Kirby on Dark Skies, Politics, Christianity, and the Future of Metalcore

on October 22, 2018, 12:57pm

Fit for a King have always churned out fiery, brutally heavy metalcore, and they still do, but something is musically different on their latest album. Listening to Dark Skies, which dropped last month, it’s obvious that big, sing-along choruses have taken on a new importance to Fit for a King, and vocalist Ryan Kirby agrees.

“I think when you hear a catchy chorus, it gets stuck in your head, and I think having a strong chorus in our songs this time has people coming back,” Kirby told Heavy Consequence.

Now, Fit for a King will be on the road through the end of the year to promote Dark Skies, and Kirby is having a blast performing these songs to packed theaters. Kirby spoke with Heavy Consequence about the personal meaning behind the songs on Dark Skies, why he thinks politics has become a dividing force in the U.S., the future of metalcore, and what it’s like being a Christian in the world of heavy music. Read the full interview below.

On Dark Skies earning Fit for a King their best first-week sales numbers and resonating with fans

I believe the choruses are a big reason this album is doing so well — both the song structures and choruses. I think this album contains some of the strongest choruses we’ve ever had. We’ve always been known as a heavy band, and choruses have always been an afterthought. On this album, we spent a lot more time on the choruses, and I think the choruses are just as important as any other aspect of the album. We wanted something catchy.

On Dark Skies being about personal struggles

Throughout the record, I touch on a bunch of different struggles, some personal some to me and some personal to others. I had social anxiety growing up, so sometimes I write about how that was crippling and shattering. I’ve never personally dealt with depression, but on the song “Shattered Glass”, I’m trying to describe what depression feels like to somebody who doesn’t understand it, because it’s hard for someone who hasn’t gone through it to understand what depression is really like.

On what it was like working with producer Drew Fulk (I Prevail, Motionless in White, Memphis May Fire) on the album

Drew was incredible. We’re for sure going to go back to him the next time. His mindset is, “I’m going to be a member of the band for the next month, and we’re going to write the best music possible.” He focuses a lot on the overall big picture. In the past, we’ve focused on making every little part cool. He was very focused on the big picture things and overall flow of the record, and that made huge difference, on top of him being a great motivator. He’s so good at motivating us to step out of comfort zone and do things and not feel dumb trying these new things. I think a lot of singing is confidence, and he was really good at building up my confidence. He would tell me, “This will sound great. You can do this.” He’s good at getting in your head in a good way.

On the song “Oblivion”, and it being about “a man’s search for forgiveness”

I’m really happy with it. It’s a different kind of song. It’s a sad story. The song isn’t a happy song. I think we wanted it to be released first because of the emotion of it. It also has a chorus that I thought a lot of people would enjoy listening to. And it showcases the new direction of us bringing choruses to forefront of songs.

On the politically charged song “The Price of Agony”

“The Price of Agony” is talking about the political divide in our country right now. Everyone feels it, no matter what side of the spectrum you’re on, and if you’re not on either side of the debate, you look at everyone and go, “What’s wrong with all of you?” Most people, I believe, outside of politics could be friends, if you would just take out the political stuff. I’ve toured with people who completely disagree with me politically, but we’ll let it go. I feel like there’s a huge lack of people willing to have a constructive debate. It’s not just somebody on the left or right disagreeing with each other — they think the other side is evil, and that’s such an unhealthy way to view things.

On how the song “Shattered Glass” takes on the topic of depression

That’s a song where I tried to paint a picture of depression and how someone with depression feels. I’ve been fortunate to not have to go through depression. I’ve had anxiety and other problems, but never depression, but talking to fans, that’s the first thing brought up to me by fans. So, I wanted to make a track to help people.

On his favorite songs off Dark Skies

I think “The Price of Agony” is one of my favorites. I love bands like As I Lay Dying and Killswitch Engage, and that song is close to those. I like the song “Tower of Pain”, too. It’s just fast and driving, and we haven’t had a lot of fast, driving songs on our past records, so it’s fun to play live, and I have a blast with it.

On guitarist and backing vocalist Bobby Lynge stepping away from touring with Fit for a King

Bobby and his wife have a plant shop where they sell indoor and outdoor plants, so they are focused on that now. It had been going on for a while. He actually stopped touring with us in the beginning of this year, and he did do one last tour with us in May. It was just that Bobby had been a shell of himself since having a second child. Being on tour, he missed his family a lot, and it was really hard on him. We didn’t see the same Bobby in the band. We were really supportive of him stepping down from touring, and he still loves music and will still be involved with everything outside of touring, like writing with the band. Outside of touring, it’s business as usual.

On balancing being a Christian with the lifestyle of being in a band that plays heavy music

It’s a very odd combination. I’m not a big fan of the term Christian band, because there is so much negative connotation tied to the term Christian now, with Westboro Baptist Church and stuff I don’t like being attached with it. But, I am a follower of Christ. I am a Christian. I’ve never been someone who sits down and says, “I’m going to write a song about Jesus,” but sometimes my faith will come through in my lyrics. It does get odd sometimes — not with the other bands we tour with or anything, but we were touring in May and went to play a venue on North Carolina, and there was a church protesting the show outside the venue because “metal is Satan music.” It’s weird to be on tour as a Christian and then have a Christian group protesting you. I always tell people that bad people use religion as a shield to project their bigotry. In reality, they just are hateful towards that group of people.

On whether metalcore is at a crossroads, with bands like Bring Me the Horizon going in a new musical direction and the Warped Tour ending

I would say so. I would hope our band would be part of the new wave of bands that is shifting. I think that there’s a shift of older bands that are either breaking up or changing sounds or becoming openers again, or there’s the Bring Me the Horizons that just go in a different genre. I’d like to think there’s a new wave of bands that will carry the torch and bring metalcore back to a prominent spot. Bands like Parkway Drive and Killswitch Engage are killing it.

Stuff like “The Price of Agony” shifts closer into the mainstream metalcore world, like the Killswitch Engages or As I Lay Dyings. We’ll never put out a record without any heavy tracks, but we want to bring catchier songs to our records. But, we’ll always maintain our heavy songs.

On his thoughts on Tim Lambesis reuniting with As I Lay Dying

I guess my outlook is that he served his time, and his bandmates found a way to forgive him. I don’t know him at all. I never met him. Those band mates had a tour coming up, and touring and making music was their income and way to live, so he could have cost them so much money and even cost them their jobs. If they learned to forgive him, then I can, too. What I hear from people who do know him is that he has changed a lot and is trying to do good. I would like to think that since nobody, thankfully, ended up dying, that rehabilitation would be everyone’s goal.

On his thoughts about We Came As Romans singer Kyle Pavone passing away

I never had the pleasure of speaking with him. I’ve met the other guys, and we’ve toured, and I even hung out with them before this Devil Wears Prada tour that we’re on now, and they seem to be doing okay. It’s very powerful to hear how they’re handling it. I think it’s really sad losing someone so young and talented and who was a staple in the music scene for so long.

Our thanks to Ryan Kirby for taking the time to chat with us. Pick up Fit for a King’s new album, Dark Skies, digitally at iTunes or physically at MerchNow, and catch the band supporting The Devil Wears Prada on the next leg of their fall tour. Dates can be found here.

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