By now you probably roll your eyes everytime you hear about someone intending to do any kind of new creative project with their downtime in lockdown. After all, six months into a global pandemic, shouldn’t we all have finished that draft manuscript of the book we promised ourselves we would write? The moral of the story is that lockdown doesn’t necessarily make us any more productive.
Having said that, try making excuses to Fit For A King frontman Ryan Kirby, who managed to find the time to publish his christian devotional The Embrace, whilst simultaneously wrapping up the cycle for the band’s breakout success Dark Skies, and putting the final touches on anticipated follow up The Path.
“It definitely feels strange to be writing in this kind of format, but it’s been super exciting to push myself in this area,” he tells us regarding the experience of writing books as opposed to crunchy metalcore jams.
“I do tend to have my faith as a separate thing from my work in the band (as much as I can), so this devotional book has for sure given me the chance to open up more about my beliefs in a different medium.”
Chatting to Kirby, it’s clear that he’s a man willing to go through the lengthy process in order to achieve results. One only needs to look at the gruelling tour resume he’s racked up fronting Fit For A King to appreciate that Kirby and his band mates are slaves of the grind.
“When we did our last album Dark Skies we were all in a crazy negative headspace as people. We’d been doing the band for around a decade, were making no money on the road, we lived on the road and had no security…But Dark Skies really opened up some doors for us and has enabled us to feel really confident moving onward to this next LP cycle when we drop The Path.”
It only takes 10 minutes of Dark Skies for Fit For A King to separate themselves from the saturated metalcore scene, with mosh anthem ‘The Price Of Agony’ stripping away the djenty, over-compressed breakdowns and thrusting the beautiful phenomena of the riff to centre stage.
“All those things that you have the more ‘metal’ bands do, that’s where we’ve tried to move this time around”
“That’s what holds the entire piece together. It’s like our pop hook,” laughs Ryan when asked about the importance of a simple riff birthed from a six-string.
“If you don’t have that defined in the song, then there’s no point listening. We’d rather try and say more with less. I definitely think that we’ve been good at that in the past.
“From that LP, ‘The Price of Agony’ and ‘When Everything Means Nothing’ really broke through for us. Those songs had a way bigger impact than what we could possibly have expected, so we’re trying to think through what it was about those tunes that people really wanted to hear more of.”
If new singles ‘God of Fire’ and ‘Locked (In My Head)’ are anything to go by, it would seem that following the ‘metal’ side of metalcore is where the band have landed for their next album – a fact enthusiastically confirmed by Kirby.
“We’ve really tried to go for a distinctly heavier sound this time around. We sat down in the lead-up to writing new material and had a really big think about what parts of our new sounds people seem to gravitate to, but also which tunes have gone really well for us from previous releases.
“We definitely know that our fans like breakdowns. That’s something that we’ll always have sitting in our music, but we also really want to move into that more metal territory, and draw cues from bands that straddle that metal line, like As I Lay Dying or Killswitch Engage.”
For Kirby and co. making the transition to a more ‘metal’ sound was all about focusing on the 1 per centers; right down to the band’s own performance techniques.
“Just things like paying more attention to how we record our guitar lines, what kind of emphasis we have on the importance of melodic lines coming in over the riffs…All those things that you have the more ‘metal’ bands do, that’s where we’ve tried to move this time around,” he says.
“Even things like me doing pitched screams on this record are an effort to really try and push into the broader metal zone…we really whittled it down to specifics.”
With a more focused approach and the time off to recharge their batteries, one can only expect that The Path will propel Fit For A King to new heights – something that the band finally sound ready for.