Interview: Fit For A King’s Ryan Kirby on their new album ‘The Path’

Texas metalcore group Fit For A King are patiently waiting for their sixth studio album, The Path, to be released on September 18 with no knowledge of when they can tour the songs. It’s not all doom and gloom though, as this record professes – lead vocalist Ryan Kirby says it’s one of their more positive bodies of work. Here’s Kirby with more.

It’s almost time for the world to hear your sixth album. How is the band feeling about everything?

“This is the most excited I’ve ever been for people to hear our new record. I think that’s how everyone in the band also feels too. I think the writing process, the studio, everything just went so smoothly and everybody’s so happy with everything and we can’t wait to share it. The biggest bummer of this whole process is not knowing when we can play these songs for a crowd.”

Was the recording process a lengthy one or did you knock it over fairly quickly?

“We headed in at the end of January and were there till the first week of March. It was one week longer than the last record … actually, might have been a week-and-a-half longer than the last, so not too much longer, but definitely the longest we’ve spent on a record. We wrote and recorded everything within that seven weeks. I think Jared did some drum touch ups back in Texas afterwards, but that’s about it.”

Why did this one take longer?

Dark Skies just did really well so we requested from our label, ‘Hey, could we have more time because we feel like we could fine tune things that much more with a little extra time?’ We want to use as much time as the label is willing to allow … They still offered a longer period if we wanted it but we were so happy with the record, and as you know, you have to pay back whatever you spend, so we felt we had hit the limit on where we felt comfortable … We felt like the album was already so much better, in our opinion, than Dark Skies that we were like, ‘I think we’re good to go’, and seven weeks seemed to be a good length of time.”

You worked with producer WZRD BLD aka Andrew Fulk again on this one. Are you a fan of recording in LA?

“… It’s kind of just nice to have a getaway and stay in LA for a month without having to … we’re not directly paying for our time there … It’s just a nice scene going there – January, February. It’s perfect weather every day. It’d be 18 to 22 celsius, even in the middle of January, February – that’s a perfect place to go in the winter. Because we did our album Death Grip in Michigan with Nick Sampson and that was during January and it was not fun. It was like, negative five Celsius for the entire time (laughs).”

Did you have most of the songs done before heading into the studio or did you come up with some while you were playing around in the studio?

“Basically the entire album was written in the studio. Bob (Bobby Lynge – composer) and Daniel (Gailey – guitars, backing vocals) just wrote a bunch of riffs and stuff that was cool, but once we got to the studio, they were just churning out way better stuff than they had brought, so we were just like, you know what, let’s just keep going. It’s mainly because it’s a unique writing situation for us. We live states apart; Dan’s in LA, Tuck (Ryan “Tuck” O’Leary – bass, clean vocals) is in New York and me, Bob and Jared (Easterling – drums) are in Texas, so we don’t get to see each other a lot unless we’re touring. So once we get into a studio together, it’s almost like writing overload and it just usually pours out once we’re all together … We just have such good chemistry when we’re together that us being in the studio almost always produces better music than us being individually producing by ourselves.”

Do you separate yourselves in the studio or work in a group?

“I personally write best on my own or with Drew. This is stuff that we kind of learned from our last record. I personally prefer to be in the room one on one with Drew and then present the idea as a tracked product so I can fully realise the idea whether it’s singing or screaming, and then put the harmonies on it, put the layers on it, try to make it as close to what it would actually sound like on the record and then present it to the band. And then they’ll sit around and tell me what they like or don’t like about it. And the same kind of goes for Bob and Drew. Bob and Drew have a great relationship with writing. We let Bob and Drew write by themselves sometimes and then they’ll call us into the room if they’re feeling stuck or if there’s a part they’re not sure if we’ll like, and then we all give our two cents. So everybody’s kind of divided up, and then we do our thing, and then we’re called into the room to review it.”

So you wrote the majority of the lyrics again?

“I’d say I write about 85-90 per cent of the lyrics and then Tuck and Bob will put in some lyrical ideas as well.”

What stoked your creativity this time around?

“I was just in a really good mood going into the studio, I was so happy to be hanging out with Drew again and the band had made such huge strides during the Dark Skies album cycle. So I was just feeling good. And I was like, ‘I want to write a record that’s just about accomplishing stuff and about biting through stuff and nothing sad really’. And that was why a lot of the songs ended up being like a lot more positive this time around.

“A lot of the positive stuff was just drawing from personal experience and how I was feeling. There are definitely some songs that aren’t positive songs but they deal with more stuff in the world … there’s just certain thing that I want get off my chest and talk about in songs, even if it breaks the theme a little bit – “God Of Fire” is one of them, same with “Stockholm” on the record. Stockholm deals with people’s worship of politicians even though politicians don’t care about them … Stockholm syndrome.”

What can fans and newcomers expect from this album’s sound?

“It’s about the same amount of heaviness as our last couple records. There’s some definite songs that explore more into the more metal sound, whether it’s an As I Lay Dying sound or Killswitch or Parkway – those big metalcore bands. We wanted to draw inspiration from them, like adding things like guitar solos and just bigger choruses, but at the end of the day, I think there’s still a tonne of songs that make it a Fit For A King record and doesn’t stray far from the formula. I’ve been telling a lot of people the singles are more of us exploring our sound, they’re not going to be your stereotypical Death Grip or Dark Skies – but the non-singles – the more deep cuts will make our old fans very happy when they hear them.”

What’s “Prophet” about?

“Prophet was inspired by our manager’s friend… (who) committed suicide before we went to the studio and I just wanted to write a song to help people dealing with the loss of family or friends to suicide. It’s kind of just a song from the point of view of somebody who is speaking to God saying, ‘Why did you let them get to this point? If you could create the universe, why couldn’t you fix them? Why couldn’t you help them?’ And it’s the point of view of somebody questioning – the chorus says, ‘Prophet do you have some words for me? Prophet am I too blind to see?’ Maybe I can’t see the reason why you let this happen … just questioning God – how could you not help him or her?

Do you find the band’s Christian beliefs help or hinder in these circumstances?

“I used to have those thoughts a while back, so I know where people come from when they have them. For me, personally, I believe that people have the free will to make their own decisions. Now, obviously there are exterior and interior forces that influence those decisions because I don’t think anybody chooses to be depressed. Nobody chooses to have anxiety, but I think most things are a product of our upbringing, of human choices throughout time and they shape us and people kind of use blaming God as a cop out sometimes versus self reflection. But it’s not even just God. People will blame other people for their own problems and blame their parents like ‘My parents did this. I was young’, and it’s like, ‘Well, you’re 30 now, so you can’t always just turn to your parents and say, ‘Well, I can’t change because my parents’. People go through horrible things and they have horrible abusive parents, but it doesn’t give you an excuse when you’re 30 to be horrible and abusive. Don’t continue the pattern. If you went through bad stuff, why put other people through bad stuff? Because then you’re just going to be the source of more issues for other people.”

Let’s talk about the big tour with Parkway, Hatebreed, Knocked Loose and yourselves slated for this year. Have you heard any more news about its status?

“The last I heard they announced it was cancelled and they were going to look into rescheduling for late 2021. It’s such a bummer. We have another tour in 2021 they’re also talking about rescheduling in late 2021 and that’s another big US tour. And I’m like, ‘Cool, so we might just have to only do one of them’. At this point, I’m not going to complain about touring. I’ll do as many tours as I possibly can.”

Well hopefully you can get the album on the road at some stage and Grater looks forward to another catch up.

“Absolutely. And the second we can tour again, and we’re allowed in Australia, we’re gonna be there.”

The Path is out September 18 via Solid State Records

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