The Kings of Leon, Terence Trent D’Arby and Manchester Orchestra are examples of recording artists who didn’t grow up with secular music, but made a splash in the world of rock. Fit for a King vocalist Ryan Kirby can relate, since he came of age in Texas in a household which only allowed Christian music.
“When it came to the songs that could be played, it was very strict,” Kirby said by phone from Bangor, Maine.
Surprisingly, his introduction to metal was at home.
“The crazy thing is that I discovered heavy music through playing Madden football with my dad, of all people,” Kirby said. “I heard Switchfoot, who at the time I thought was heavy, but they weren’t. That led me down the rabbit hole where I discovered Atreyu, Avenged Sevenfold and Pantera.”
After immersing himself in metal, Kirby formed the Christian-metal band Fit for a King in 2007 in Tyler, Texas.
“I’m glad my parents didn’t freak out when I went all out in this band,” he said. “They’ve supported what I’m doing. They can see how passionate I am about it. The cool thing is that the band took off. They’re thrilled that I’m not living paycheck to paycheck and I’m a homeowner.”
The formula for the band’s success is a mix of muscular guitar-driven rock and melody.
“People will check you out to see what you have to offer musically, but they’ll stick around if you have melody,” Kirby said. “I think you make a connection with melody and then you connect further with lyrics.”
Kirby — whose band will perform Wednesday (8/7) at the Blue Moose Tap House in Iowa City — doesn’t proselytize.
“What I typically do is write one or two songs with Christian-based lyrics. I always tell people straight up that we’re a Christian band, but I don’t beat people over the head with my Christian views. My songs are my views on life and it’s not always from a Christian point of view.”
Kirby is cognizant that he’s a role model for fans. He’s kind to his followers and is never profane unless he’s quoting dialogue from a film.
“I just don’t have a need for it,” he said. “I try to be positive in life and in our music, but I also try to be realistic. Part of the problem with a lot of Christians or Christian music is that it avoids the awful parts of life. That’s something I’ll never do with this band.”
A number of tracks from Fit for a King’s latest album, “Dark Skies,” are as heavy as they sound. “Tower of Pain” and “When Everything Means Nothing” are full of despair. Rwandan genocide inspired “Stacking Bodies,” from the 2016 album “Deathgrip.”
“I was compelled to write that song,” Kirby said. “It’s about something awful. It’s tragic that 500,000 people were killed and over what? You look at other tragedies around the world. It’s terrible.
“Some people are surprised at the tone of our songs, but we’re a Christian band, not a worship band and sometimes people have a hard time realizing what the difference is between the two. I write about some dark stuff. Someone needs to address it. The reason I sing about it is because it has to be addressed and we need to make some changes in the world. We have to make it a better place.”
WHAT: Fit For a King, with openers Norma Jean, Currents and Left Behind
WHERE: Blue Moose Tap House, 211 Iowa Ave., Iowa City
WHEN: 6 p.m. Wednesday (8/7)
TICKETS: $18 advance, $20 show day; (319) 358-9206 or Bluemooseic.com
BAND’S WEBSITE: Fitforakingband.com