Ryan Kirby Of Fit For A King: 'I'm Here Experiencing The Product Of Trauma'

28 October 2022 | 2:17 pm | Mary Varvaris
Originally Appeared In

"You guys shocked me with how much you knew our music!"

(Source: Supplied)

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Texas metalcore band Fit For A King have been a mainstay on the scene since 2011. They were in Australia recently as part of Alpha Wolf's Metalcore Snitches tour alongside Paledusk and Great American Ghost; vocalist Ryan Kirby was blown away by the shows. "You guys shocked me with how much you knew our music," he laughs, reminiscing on his concerns that audiences would have forgotten about Fit For A King after eight years away. 

Today, the band releases their seventh album, The Hell We Create, which finds Kirby writing more profound lyrics than ever.

The album follows a string of four records that have landed in the Top 5 on both the Billboard Top Christian Albums Chart and the Top Hard Rock Albums Chart; it was born from traumatic experiences and has become the most personal product Fit For A King have ever created. Kirby sat to chat with us before a show with Stand Atlantic, I Prevail, and Pierce The Veil in San Jose, California and walked us through the stories behind The Hell We Create.

"I'm usually a pretty passive person when talking about emotions and stuff like that. The band really pushed me to open up, it's been the first time I just let it all out on a record, and it has honestly felt great, and it feels great hearing people be positively affected by it," Kirby says. While the band's musicality remains as ferocious as ever, the lyrical content matches in intensity.

Kirby and his wife adopted her niece and nephew during the COVID-19 pandemic before his wife suffered a stroke and he experienced true darkness. "I hardly knew them before [we adopted them]. They went to our wedding back in 2015, and that was the extent to which I knew them," he shares; it was a bit awkward at first telling people that he and his wife had adopted the kids, as Kirby was 28 years old at the time and his wife was 26. "I just told her I don't know them, and I play in a touring band." After confiding in his parents and praying, he followed his wife's passion for bringing the kids in. "I realised that we had the ability to give these kids a good life, and that's a gift. There's no value you can place on that for a child. So we did it!"

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The Hell We Create explores intergenerational trauma. The record divulges the hell the kids went through in an abusive family, living in multiple shelters and seventeen foster homes before Kirby and his wife could begin fostering and later adopt them. He realised that the kids' hell was entirely created by others. After his wife's stroke, he was ultra-paranoid and stopped eating. These were the hellscapes in his life; he learned that hell is passed down. 

Kirby was honoured to get to know his niece and nephew during the pandemic. "It's weird how it's worked out with the pandemic because we adopted them three months before everything shut down," he begins. "I planned on being gone a lot because it's touring, and I have to make money to support the family. Same with my wife. 

"It turned out that I got to know them way better than I ever would have gotten to know them! I had to homeschool them for a little while with her. We were home together all day, every day because we couldn't go out and do stuff. So it's like, out of that awful situation, some good actually came out of it. And now I'm so grateful that my wife pushed so hard to bring them in because I can see the positive in their life just from having stability." Now, Kirby feels much older than his peers in bands. "I guess that's what having a teenage daughter and an 11-year-old son at home does to you," he laughs.

"The kids being involved in our lives now and being like our son and daughter really showed me how bad it can be because it was never something on my radar," Kirby says. And even though his wife had a rough upbringing, he was still separated from a life he'd never actively experienced. "Now I'm here experiencing the product of trauma. I see them have their blow-ups. I see them cry. I see all this stuff. It makes me want to try to bring normality to their life."

One of the album's most fabulous moments arrives in kinship: two weeks ago, Fit For A King released the single, Times Like This, with Jonathan Vigil from The Ghost Inside. "Initially, we just thought his voice would sound great on the song," Kirby starts; he underestimated the impact shared trauma would have on him. "I can't think of a better person that has dealt with the amount of trauma they dealt with because of the bus accident. For them to tour again, you have to overcome so much trauma to get on a bus after that. 

"I can't think of a better vocalist to be on an album about problems than somebody who literally overcame a near-death experience, faced the trauma, and is now back on stage playing shows again. That is incredible. I've liked The Ghost Inside forever - not to make them sound old, but I was listening to them in eighth grade and ninth grade!"

Now, Kirby doesn't see bands formed by eighth and ninth-grade kids. "That's the biggest bummer for me; that bands of teenagers are at 1% of what they used to be," he says, recalling the time when The Devil Wears Para, Miss May I, and Attack! Attack! blew up as teenagers. "I'm worried that we'll get to a point where - I mean, you already see this - all the same bands tour together all the time. 

"There are bright spots in music; Lorna Shore and Knocked Loose are huge, and the music is incredible. But I do want to see more young people making music again - teenagers make such great music because they don't have bills to worry about and shit," he laughs. Kirby misses the MySpace era of music sharing and fostering community. In saying that, he's immensely proud of how far Fit For A King have come and that The Hell We Create raises awareness of tragedy, fighting for others, and finding hope.

The Hell We Create is out now on Solid State Records.