Fit for a King frontman Ryan Kirby grew up in Arlington, but he isn't familiar with many of the venues he's now playing with the Christian metalcore band. It's on the lineup for Warped Tour, visiting Starplex Pavilion this Friday, but Kirby never attended Warped Tour in Dallas as a teenager.
“I enjoyed writing music a lot more than watching,” he says over the phone, during an off day in Milwaukee. “I enjoy playing, obviously. It’s weird. I enjoy listening to it on headphones, but I was never big on live shows. ... I [was] kind of socially awkward through high school. I was never big on loud noises, which is weird because that’s my life.”
Fit for a King formed in Tyler in 2007. The band released two EPs and one LP independently before signing to Seattle-based Solid State Records in 2012, and has released four albums since. The first, Creation/Destruction, reached No. 17 on Billboard's Christian Albums Chart and No. 6 on the Hard Rock Albums chart.
These days, Kirby, drummer Jared Easterling and guitarist Bobby Lynge call Fort Worth home, and bassist Ryan O’Leary lives in upstate New York. Despite his social anxiety, Kirby says that singing lead vocals in Fit for a King brings out the best in him.
“I liked that it was pushing me,” he says. “I’m still working on it. Now that it’s a job, I still work on it all the time — being more outgoing on stage. It’s helped push me out of my comfort zone.”
The response to the band’s most recent album for Solid State, October 2016's Deathgrip, has been the strongest yet. This isn't Fit for a King's first time on Warped Tour, but the crowds are noticeably larger and more engaged. Kirby stresses the importance of trying to connect with an audience, whether the show is going well or not.
“You need to still put out your best effort,” he says. “You don’t want to get offstage and think, ‘Maybe I was the reason why they didn’t move.’ [I] want to get offstage knowing I did what I could.”
Traveling with the Warped Tour is a long, arduous experience for any band. Kirby explains how he gets through it.
“I turn my brain off all day, turn it on to play, and I turn it back off,” he says. “Don’t think about how miserable some of the days are because of the heat. It’s really about staying positive and keeping yourself busy.”
Every day he wears loose-fitting clothing, drinks lots of water and lathers himself up with sunscreen.
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"I’ve seen some of the worst sunburns ever at our meet-and-greets,” he says. “Fans will come up dark red, and I’m like, ‘Oh, you’re not going to have fun for the next three weeks.’”
The band members look forward to heading to their homes in early August. They will go back out on a co-headlining tour in November and use the downtime to begin writing material for another album.
“We don’t have anything from August through October, so we’re just going to write a lot,” Kirby says. “Obviously nothing’s coming out soon, but we definitely want to get started to get ready to go into the studio.”
Fit for a King at Warped Tour, gates open 12:30 p.m. Friday, July 28, Starplex Pavilion, 3839 S. Fitzhugh Ave., $42.50, livenation.com.