It’s not uncommon for band members to be close-knit and have a great dynamic. After all, they usually came together for a common cause due to similar interests. Then, there is the fact that they literally live together, 24/7, as they practice, write, travel and perform. For A Feast For Kings, the progressive-metal band based out of Kentucky, they are an excellent example of that lucky set of people. Every Thursday when they’re at home, they have a standing dinner date at drummer Carson Butcher’s house. “We get together and we eat and we talk about future goals, plans and updates to the band,” Butcher said. “And we sit around and pray stuff out. (It’s our) kind of fellowship. It’s a cool thing to do.”
Although fringe genres such as rap and metal are much more accepted in social and spiritual cliques now, it’s probably not every day a pastor and his wife invite his kid and his metal band over for a weekly dinner. But with a dynamic and a testimony like the guys in A Feast For Kings have, it fits into place.
HM Magazine had the opportunity to catch up with three of the band’s five members to discuss their beginnings and what their goals are for their future.
Thursday night dinners might have to wait.
Let’s start from the beginning, then, so I can get to know you guys. Walk me through how the band started.
Butcher: I was a junior in high school. I had just went to my first metal show in a small town called Trimble County, Kentucky. There was a thing called Spring Breakdown, and it was this tiny, little… I wouldn’t even call it a festival. It was a tiny little festival that local bands do.
I had heard about this stuff before, and I had actually never been, so I went with a couple of friends. I thought it was really cool. I came back and this one day, out of the blue, I was like, “I want to start one of those bands.”
Actually, the guys in A Feast For Kings with me, a few of us were like, “We could write music like that,” so we started from there. I’ll let some of these other guys explain (that) to you. I consider these guys as pretty much original members. Would you like to know a little bit more about how they came into play? They actually didn’t even live here with me.
Carson, you said you went to that Spring Breakdown mini-festival and that got you into metal. If you want to clarify for me, the members of the band right now, are they your friends from high school, or did you meet when you started the band?
Butcher: Actually, the bass player — his name is Jamie King — and he went to high school with me. We knew each other, but we weren’t super-close friends. His band was the first band that I saw there. He was in a band called Give Me Clarity, just a local band.
I walked in and saw him play and I thought that was really cool. He didn’t end up joining A Feast For Kings until a couple of years later. These guys that I have with me — Seth and Eric — they joined a little bit after we had started.
Guitarist Seth Weigand: Basically, I met Carson at a church camp in Illinois. It’s something both of our youth groups had gone to every year. We’d go back and see each other and connect with each other, talk and keep in touch afterwards, year after year. I started going there when I was 12. They started going there probably when they were 14.
I’m from Illinois. I ended up joining the Air Force. Texas for training, got sent to Ohio for my active duty service. It turns out Ohio was (only two hours from) Kentucky where these guys live. Keeping in touch with him, I wanted to connect with someone because I was far away from home and didn’t have any close friends.
I wanted to hang out with them and see what life was like up there in Kentucky. I made some plans to meet them in July 2010. I brought my guitar down there to jam or mess around or whatever. No talk about a band or anything.
On the way home that Sunday, they called me up and they asked me if I wanted to start a band with them. This is before it was called A Feast For Kings. It really didn’t have much of a name before that. We didn’t know what to call it.
That’s where I came into play. I ended up coming down every weekend after that to visit with them, go to church and practice. I got out of the military last year, and I moved down here. I live right down the street from Carson and Eric.
Eric, while I have you here, I also want to know what a few of your favorite bands are or singers, if you just want to say yours and some of your influences.
Gentry: Currently, I listen to a lot of Architects, Bring Me the Horizon and North Plains. I’m really excited to hear Betraying the Martyrs’ new album. I listened to their old album. That’s most of the metal I listen to, but I’ve got a pretty good mix of all kinds of music, not just metal.
We picked these topics — depression, addiction, anger — because they can make your life seem like a hell on earth. It makes you feel like you can’t get through the day. We wanted to reach out to people on that level.
Did you always like metal growing up, or is that something you got into later?
Gentry: It’s something I really got into later, you could say. I don’t know. When I was in middle school, I heard Underoath and stuff like that. It caught my attention, but really what got me going was I went to the music store one day and I bought August Burns Red’s Messengers. I got The Devil Wears Prada’s With Roots Above and Branches Below. Those are the two albums that really got me started.
Those are some of the classics, for sure.
Gentry: I’m surprised that (August Burns Red) CD still even works. I grew up on that (laughs). Mainly, for some reason, the radio in my truck had an older system, so I listened to it probably enough times to burn it out.
Butcher: I really like the new Architects album. I thought that was incredible. I really, really like North Plains’ new album. That was probably my favorite release of the last year.
Growing up, the first thing I ever heard, pretty much like every other kid, was Underoath. Those guys pretty much became heroes to me.
That was what got me started into metal.
There are so many trends and things kids do they think is cool to do (because they’re in a) band, but you can always go back and put in Define The Great Line or They’re Only Chasing Safety. Listen to Underoath and it’s still just as cool as when you were 14 or 15.
Weigand: Tony Bonette from As Cities Burn was my — I guess you would say — idol. I don’t like using that word, but anything he did, I wanted to do. That’s my all time, most influential band. Even more than Underoath.
Any favorite album by them?
Weigand: Son, I Loved You at Your Darkest, the first one is my favorite one. That’s the heavy one.
I saw you call A Feast for Kings progressive metal. Is that what you still consider yourselves?
Weigand: It’s hard for us to even generalize our music. When you think about who we sound like, I can’t honestly give you an answer. We like to create heavy music, sometimes melodic. We like to mix a lot of those things together.
I guess you would say progressive metal. It’s constantly changing. It’s different. I don’t know how to explain it, really. That’s the thing. It’s hard to explain why you call it progressive metal.
Butcher: When we went into the studio to record this EP, our mindset wasn’t on a specific genre or even a specific sound. Honestly, we thought, “What can we do that we are going to like?” What can we give anyone that likes this genre of music — whether that’s deathcore, hardcore, metal, metalcore, progressive metal, melodic — that might be a little heavier than rock (they would like)?” We really took a lot of time. I think we, as a band, really achieved that. There is literally something on this EP for everyone that likes every style.
We wanted something that kids that might not listen to this certain style, don’t like that, or this part over here, they like that, but it might not be as much as this. It’s stuff that everybody could get into, so that was a big thing going into the studio.
Let’s talk about what your goals are with the band. Do you guys have a specific goal in mind right now, or are you just riding it out?
Butcher: Obviously every band — whether they know what it takes or what it entails — wants to tour the world. That’s every band’s dream; that’s definitely our dream. We are a Christian band, and not only a Christian band, but we are a band full of Christians. It’s both. I’ll let Eric get into lyrically in a second.
I’m being gracious of how to put these, but we’re not as in your face when it comes to preaching. No disrespect to For Today — I absolutely love those guys and really respect what they do; they’re a big influence — but we’re not going to preach at you. We might not say the name of Jesus 30 times in our songs, but all our songs are positive and uplifting.
The EP name is Hell on Earth. We dug into how to overcome hell on earth through Christ. I’ll let Eric explain more on the lyrical side.
Gentry: We had a six-song EP and we redid one of our older singles because it actually fit into the theme of what we were trying to do with Hell on Earth. We picked these topics — depression, addiction, anger — because they can make your life seem like a hell on earth. It makes you feel like you can’t get through the day. We wanted to reach out to people on a personal level.
I didn’t really know what to call it. I saw feast and I saw kings and I was like, ‘I guess that will work.’ Unfortunately, there’s not any giant, cool, Parkway Drive, growing-up-on-a-street story behind it. It has done good for us, though.
You can write songs about anything you want. These are things that people are going to (face) every single day, so why not try and influence (the world) in a positive way? That’s what we wanted to do. We (wrote about) scenarios and more heartfelt things people could connect to. That was our main goal: connecting with the hearts of people who are going through stuff we have been through. Yeah, we’re Christians, but we’re not perfect people. We struggle, too. That’s part of it. If we’ve been through it and we overcame it, why not try to help other people do the same? That was our main goal lyrically through the whole EP.
Eric, are you the writer, or do you guys share the writing duties?
Gentry: Me and Seth, and actually Jamie, our bass player now, he (contributed) as well. We all pretty much throw ideas together.
Weigand: One thing I wanted to add to was the part about our goals for this EP as a Christian band. A lot of Christian bands will say they want to save or find the lost. That’s a huge goal, but another thing we want to do is provide positive music for Christians who listen to heavy music.
There are not many of them out there. Me, I’m a Christian and I love listening to heavy music, but there are a lot of negative bands out there. We even named a few earlier, unfortunately. … That’s a huge goal for us, to provide that for Christians and non-Christians, people who need to hear some positive stuff. Reach out to as many people as we can, lost and Christian people.
What about touring? Where are you going and where have you been?
Butcher: We really haven’t done a whole lot of touring. We’ve done a lot of super-small weekend runs. We’ve done some festivals and stuff like that. … Basically, the DIY tours a lot of the independent bands are doing, that’s not something we’ve focused super-heavily on. We’ve focused a lot more on our album and getting that exactly the way we want it. That way, when it comes time to start doing full U.S. tours — and even in the future overseas and stuff like that — it could be on a greater level.
I’m not saying we are so amazing our first tours are going to be ginormous overseas tours. The way we’ve planned, (we’ve) set ourselves up for a national touring circuit, instead of hitting a lot of the DIY tours with a lot of independent bands.
What inspired the name, A Feast for Kings?
Butcher: Unfortunately there’s no cool story on that. Going back to when I started the band when I was a junior in high school, I was in English class — it was right when I decided I really wanted to (be in) a band — for some reason, I thought the first thing I should do is come up with a name. I was thinking of different names, and thought of a lot of really stupid things, things that might have been popular back then.
I didn’t really know what to call it. I saw feast and I saw kings and I was like, “A Feast for Kings, well, I guess that will work. We’ll see what they think about that.” Everybody liked it and was like, “Yeah, all right. Let’s do it.” Unfortunately, there’s not any giant, cool, Parkway Drive, growing-up-on-a-street story behind that. It’s just whatever. It has done good for us, though.
Gentry: It has been our name the whole time.
Butcher: It’s always been our name. We’ve always been one band. That’s the cool thing. A lot of bands might keep the same members, but they’ve been through 50,000 names, 10,000 stages.
A lot of bands actually don’t have that.
Butcher: That’s the thing.
Do you guys watch any TV shows? Are you into any movies or anything lately that you’ve been paying attention to?
Butcher: Yeah, we’ve been going crazy over the new “Workaholics.” This new season is, like, the funniest stuff we’ve ever seen. We all get really excited when we get to get together and watch that.
I personally have been watching a lot of “The Wonder Years” lately. I don’t know why. … I kind of enjoy it; It’s not even that great.
I’m not sure what that is. Is that a new or an older show?
Butcher: “The Wonder Years” is a super old show. It was made in 1988. Eric’s favorite show is “That ’70s Show.” I would probably have to agree with that. That was one of my favorites.
Gentry: When we watch TV, it’s football.
Butcher: We all like to watch football a lot.
Since you’ve started the band, have you learned anything you can share that has been spiritual? What lessons have you learned? What has God been teaching you in the past few years?
Butcher: For me, over the past three years, (it has been learning to) be humble. Not being prideful, basically. I struggled a lot with being cocky. I was that football player, that jock guy in high school. I was a nice guy, but sometimes I might act like I was better than someone, or act like this or that.
When I started this band, even though we were pretty much terrible for two-and-a-half years, it was still something. I still acted like I was really cool, all big and bad because I had this band. Reality check, basically, God worked on me and reminded me this is a gift. It’s something I get to use to tell people, to help people out and (explain what God has) done in my life. Even though I might not be the most amazing metal drummer in the world, I am still blessed enough to be able to travel around, hang out with kids and play every night. That’s something that’s really cool.
Weigand: I’m trying to think of things I’ve struggled with in the past few years. I guess I’ve struggled to be the best Christian I could be, always.
I grew up in church. I think the difference between somebody who grows up in church and somebody who doesn’t is being able to appreciate God and His creation, all that he has done for us. Sometimes you can take it for granted when you’ve never really seen the other side of it.
One thing that I’ve learned in the past few years, getting out of the house and stuff, is to slow down and appreciate everything God has done for me in my life already.
I’m really thankful for Him. I can step outside and look around. I really appreciate God more now than I ever did in high school. Or growing up, really. I can look around and be overwhelmed by the things He can do. Even seeing this band, seeing where it has provided for us and all the people he’s brought into our path to make it happen, it’s really an overwhelming thing.
(Sometimes), things would look bad or something bad would happen. Then it ends up with God turning it into something even greater. Every time. Something that looked bad in the short term actually ended up being better in the long term.
I’m really thankful God has done that for us. That’s one of the big things on my heart right now. That’s what I’m going to go with there.
Gentry: There are a lot of things we’ve been through, as these guys have mentioned, (but) one thing I dealt with is keeping in tune with God, keeping my heart towards God.
A little background — like Seth said — he has grown up in church. I have grown up in church. My dad has been a pastor my whole life. Being around that, I’ve always known the right thing to do. I’ve always known what’s there for me.
Having it there, like Seth said, you don’t really see the other side. Sometimes you get rebellious and you do things you know are not right. It always is nice to have a firm foundation to come back to, keeping you in tune, keeping you from falling away from God. That’s pretty self-explanatory.
Another thing: keeping with the power of prayer, I’ve learned — once you surrender your problems, whatever you’re facing, to God and really believe in Him for things to come through — that’s when things happen. I’ve seen it — time and time again — through the situations we’ve been through that are not right, but we gave Him our full trust. Some of these situations, we leave unscarred. It’s all about keeping focus, keeping strong in prayers, and keeping that going.
Aside from that, I joined the band as the bass player and now I’m the lead vocalist. Making that step was crazy for me because I’m not really an outgoing-type-of person. I’m laid back. I analyze things from afar. Being on stage and (getting) to connect with the crowd — it’s cool to be able to stretch myself like that. It’s a whole new thing for me, but I love every bit of it. I know God’s helping me grow in that area a lot, giving me the confidence and the will to want to do that.
A Feast for Kings was posted on May 7, 2014 for HM Magazine and authored by Jordan Gonzalez.