Texas metalcore band Fit For A King are bringing their stories and experiences of death to the world with their latest album Deathgrip. They are playing songs off the album all summer long on the Vans Warped Tour. We were lucky enough to sit down with singer Ryan Kirby, bassist Tuck O’Leary, and drummer Jared Easterling at the Denver stop to discuss why the album is meaningful and their collaborations with August Burns Red and Miss May I.
Groovey.TV: You just released a video for the title song off your album Deathgrip. What has the feedback from your fans been?
Jared Easterling: It seems to be going pretty well
Tuck O’Leary: I think it’s gained the most traction in the shortest amount of time than any of our other videos have.
Ryan Kirby: Which is awesome because it’s a very different song.
GTV: Deathgrip was heavily influenced by your personal connection and experience with the Paris terrorist attacks in 2015. What was it about this experience that influenced the album so heavily?
TO: We were in Frankfurt, Germany when the event happened and we were playing Paris four days later. All of us had things going through our heads about if we should play or not.
RK: It’s weird to hear things happening over there. When you’re back home in the States and you hear about a shooting, it’s scary but it’s hard to explain being in the exact same spot as it’s happening. It’s terrifying.
TO: I grew up in upstate New York, two and a half hours away from NYC. That feeling was definitely similar to the 9/11 attacks. I think everybody talked about it, but the best part was the entire tour talked about it and it was a choice. If you didn’t want to go you didn’t have to. Nobody was forced. The fact that people came out is cool and it’s uplifting.
RK: The album is about death, whether it’s spiritual or genocides that have occurred through history that people don’t talk about. I had never felt so close to death like that. It hit so close to home because it was at a show where it’s fun; everyone’s happy and drinking a beer with their friends and watching a band.
TO: I think to experience something like that as a musician or an artist and not feel anything from that, you’re cold.
GTV: You have guest vocals from Jake Luhrs of August Burns Red and Levi Benton of Miss May I. What was it like to get to work with those guys in this manner?
TO: We had toured with both of them before and created a relationship. The part of the song he did, even before we thought about putting him in there, it just sounds like something he would fit into.
RK: Jake was someone our whole band felt we needed; we’re all huge fans of August Burns Red.
JE: It’s cool because we sent him an idea of what we wanted to go for but he did his own thing and it’s so cool. As a fan of ABR, who doesn’t want Jake Luhrs on a song? It’s pretty cool.
TO: The part that we had written for it, he tracked it just like Ryan had sang it in the original recording. He also wrote one himself and it was way better.
JE: And Levi’s just a good friend and when you listen to that part it’s obviously a Levi part.
GTV: The album released last fall. What have been some of the highlight from the last 8 months?
TO: Seeing some growth has been nice. Slave To Nothing was an interesting experience because I had only known the band for two and a half months and we had only been talking for three months before that. We didn’t know each other so everything wasn’t as cohesive. I think Deathgrip is a really good step into the future and shows a little more cohesiveness. And it’s more fun; we wrote it for the live show. You can like those songs on the record, but come see it live; we wrote these songs with the intention of giving it our all and giving it hype.
RK: It’s cool because we played Denver Warped 2015 and even though our set was short, there were maybe 600 people. Today there were maybe 3-4,000 people at our set. The difference is insane.
GTV: How does the band spend there down time while on the road?
TO: Jared and I lift weights, we eat. We eat four or five meals a day and hit the gym. There’s a lot of walking around involved. Last Warped Tour I averaged about 10 miles a day, this one has only been about 6.5. We have more friends this time; last time we didn’t really know that many people. It honestly feels like you’re going to summer camp and it’s high school all over again.
GTV: You have a huge following in the Christian-metal scene. Is that a title you have taken on yourselves or do you try to avoid it?
JE: I would say we consider ourselves that.
RK: Lyrically, I don’t go out of my way to make us a Christian band and write Christian lyrics. I write about my life, my experiences, and Tuck does the same. Being a Christian, it will show in the kind of lyrics you write.
TO: There are songs like ‘PISSED OFF” that aren’t a Christian song; it’s just about being pissed off. The ironic thing I find about music is that so many people that claim they don’t believe in God are super heavy bands and reference going to hell. You can reference it and banish people to hell all you want, but if you don’t even believe in that stuff, why are you talking about it? It makes sense for us because we believe in that. Christianity at its roots is faith. That faith is something we can’t shake and it’s something that comes through our music. If people want to label us a Christian band, that’s fine.
JE: We do have a lot of Christian fans, and if we don’t say anything on stage about God, we’ll get backlash. Some people have the gift to preach from stage. Ryan isn’t a preacher, he talks about what is genuinely on his heart and in his head.
RK: I think it would be almost worse if it was scripted. It’s like they would rather I say something not sincere to the moment just so I can make them happy.
TO: The better part you get out of that is when it’s with kids off the stage. It’s not just today, it’s building relationships with these people. Lets all get through what we have to get through as a unit.
GTV: You guys have been a band for about 10 years, in which the entire way the industry runs has changed. What have you guys done to stay afloat this whole time?
RK: From 2007 to 2013, it really was a local band. To everyone we’re still pretty new, to us its been going around awhile.
TO: I think the only people that can reference older times are the MySpace kids. But then it revamped and now you have Facebook. The newer generation doesn’t know about that old stuff.
JE: The first couple years of being a band wasn’t about touring, it was about having fun. I would say from 2010 to 2012 was when we decided to really make this happen.
RK: Being around for ten years is still a long time to be a band. I tell local bands to be patient and try your hardest.
GTV: This isn’t your first time play Warped Tour. How has the tour and the band’s experiences changed over the years?
JE: The crowds definitely have been bigger. We also know more people, we know how to do the tour. And to learn where everything is, that in itself is a challenge.
TO: You have to learn to pace yourself. In Arizona I cracked; it gets so hot and so grueling. You miss your loved ones and it’s 100 degrees out and you’re just miserable. You have to still have fun and keep a smile on your face.
GTV: Fit For A King will be on the Warped Tour for the remainder of the summer. Does the band have any plans for fall that they can share with us?
RK: We will be doing a co-headliner in the fall, but we can’t say who it’s with yet, but we will be going all over, so catch us on that!
Catch Fit For A King on the Vans Warped Tour
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