Shockwave had the honor of speaking with guitarist Ryan Leitru of the band For Today. After finding a quiet spot, we discussed future plans, being a christian band in a predominantly non-christian genre, and doing the Lord’s work through music. I was humbled by Ryan’s genuine and caring nature. Although I am bummed this is the band’s last hoorah, it’s nowhere near the end of the amazing work they have in store.
Shockwave Magazine: How are you?
I’m doing fantastic.
I’m excited to be here and honored to be able to speak with you. So, this is your farewell show?
Yeah, it’s bittersweet. That’s been kind of the motif for the entirety of the tour, that all good things come to an end and rarely do people get the opportunity to say goodbye when seasons change in their lives. We are really enjoying the opportunity to go out and do that and be able to do final shows where we know it, and they know it, and everyone can kind of share in a moment together.
But, you and your brother actually formed a new band, right?
We did. It’s called Nothing Left. We just released a song a few weeks back called “Hands of Death”,and we have been working on it for a while. We don’t really know exactly what level we’re going to do it at or how much we’re going to tour, but we will tour, and release songs, and have fun with it, and kind of the see where it goes.
Is Nothing Left in the same genre as For Today?
It’s a little more extreme, a little more aggressive-hardcore style.
You know, you’re talking to my heart right now. That’s just my style of music. Being a christian metal band and playing with non-christian bands that play secular music, have you had troubles with the christian community?
I think you could end up in some ways being outcasted by both sides of the fence, which is ironic because we have met a lot of support. One thing, when there’s intense polarization of anything people tend to rally around them for better or for worse. But, we have really received a lot of really cool, intense, die-hard support from people, which has been great. Especially early on, there was a lot of confusion as to how we are christian people and sound so aggressive or sound angry. Whatever, as if christians aren’t allowed to have a range of emotions. So there’s that, and then on the other side of the fence too, there’s an idea that open-mindedness is accepted until it’s christian, because for some reason that scene is closed mindedness.
You know it’s kind of paradoxical; it’s exclusive inclusivity, if that’s even the right thing to say about that. Yeah, people are inclusive, until they decide they don’t want to include you anymore. It’s kind of weird. But, with that said, we have been embraced by both sides too. I think every person has the decision whether they can look at someone and judge them based on what they don’t know about them or not. I think it’s been cool to see people on both teams, on both sides of the fence if you will, be supportive, and cool, and unite under music. To get along and be unified, has been a cool thing to see with this band, because while it has been polarizing, that’s never been our intention.
You guys have been going strong for well over a decade. You also talk about coming to Christ during your set. For the younger generation, who think they’re coming to a metal show to just throw down or rage, do you think they get confused and say, “Oh wait a minute, they’re talking about God?”
I think a generally applicable thing for anyone of any career path or occupation, is that if you do what you do well, then people are willing to work with you. If you’re a barber who happens to be a believer and you cut hair, people want you to do it well.
I think the way often times you do things for the glory of God is not necessarily being like the barber that preaches at someone, but it is a person who is ethically sound, who is fair, who’s nice and kind, and does a good job for a fair price. Sometimes that gets lost in people. It doesn’t always have to look like a pastor on a stage, the evangelist, or the missionary that serves God. It can sometimes look like I bag groceries at Wal-Mart and I do it with a smile on my face and I love people. It’s really simple; I think we make it really complicated.
Being a musician, did you always like this genre, or start off in church choir?
I think everyone in our band has a different story for sure. Personally, I did not grow up in church. The heavy music was what I was into first. I liked all of the metal bands, Metallica, Pantera, Korn, Slipknot, and then I also liked punk rock. So like all of the fat records, skate punk that was happening in the 90’s, and so forth. So that’s kind of stuff I got into, and Nirvana, of course. I had a big spectrum of music that I was interested in. So, I just got into that, and just dove into music. Then later on into my early adulthood or late adolescence, I guess you’d say, that’s when I became a believer, and started to claim music that showcases who we are.
I think the heart of music, at least the kind of music I like, is the kind that people reveal who they are to a degree and it’s honest and sincere. Regardless of whether that person is the same as me or not, I appreciate honesty. Being in music, it would be disingenuous for us to do anything other than what we have done right with this band. The whole heart of it has been to be open about the hope that we have found. Our music reflects that. With that said, it’s not exclusively a thing that people have to believe what we say necessarily, or take our word for it, or even agree with us at all, but to be able to look at someone and go, “we don’t agree, but I really like or love the way that you do what you do, and it has been really encouraging too.”
It means that it’s possible just to be excellent when you do or try to be excellent, whether we fall short. But, I’ve questioned. It has always been a goal of mine do something authentic and hopefully people will be ok with that.
Have you had any fans come to you after the show or contact you later saying they found God or something extraordinary happened to them because of your music or your message?
We have. We get a lot of people who say a lot of really incredible things to us. We try to be very, very intentional on not taking credit for the right things that are far beyond our power, so to speak. It has been super, super, encouraging and awesome to see the way the Lord has used this band to speak to people, in some way. A lot of the time we’re just trying to get out-of-the-way and then be transparent, so that we can hopefully invite people to have a place where they can get spoken to.
That’s really a beautiful thing.
We have been incredibly blessed to be able to be a part of so many people stories. Whether that looks like a person coming to the Lord for the first time, to a person recommitting their lives, or even to someone being encouraged in the moment of hardship or suffering. All those things are super, super important and it’s not up to us to do them. It’s even more humbling, because if it were up to our musical prowess or our intelligence, I’m nothing. It’s very encouraging to be merely a footnote in what God is doing.
Moving forward, is there any material out there to check out on your new band?
Yeah, the band is called Nothing Left and we released a song a couple of weeks ago called “Hands of Death.” It’s on You Tube and SoundCloud. We did a kind of soft release, opened a tour in Europe, and did like seven shows.
That’ pretty awesome, I’m going to have to check that out. Are you going to stay with Nuclear Blast?
We’re still trying to figure out exactly what we’re going to do. Nuclear Blast been great to For Today and the one of things that I really appreciate about them is that they sign bands individually. If they want to work with this band, we will see if we can work something out. So, we’ll see. I think we’re kind of figuring out exactly how it all works. The goal is early spring time we will be releasing an EP and that’s that.
Well, thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me.
Open your mind and lay down every preconcieved notion you have ever had about what a metal band is, and what christian music is supposed to sound like. Because no matter who or where the message is coming from, it still holds the same power. Please check out former guitarist for For Today’s new band, “Nothing Left“.