For Today is calling it a career this fall and giving fans one more chance to share in the band’s music with a farewell tour that runs through mid-December. To guitarist Ryal Lietru, the decision to end the group came down to a simple choice: family or the band.
“I think now we’re kind of faced with there are so many other things in life we want to do and be a part of,” Lietru said in a late-September phone interview. “Our singer has a couple of kids, and he wants to see them grow up. I know most of us are married. I have a wife, and we’d kind of like to have a family and move to that next stage of life. And it’s really difficult to do that on the road. It can be done, but it is definitely a very important decision to make that that’s how you want to live your life.
“The last thing any of us wanted is for someone’s marriage or family or children to suffer so that we can go play songs,” he said. “I think that’s kind of what it was is just family comes first.”
If the band members were aware that For Today would have a finite life span, the actual decision to end the band was fairly recent. Even last fall, band members were indicating in interviews that they were already thinking about a next studio album and musical directions they might want to explore.
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“We were planning on continuing to write and do that,” Lietru acknowledged. “I just think at some point we all kind of realized if you do a record, it’s another two years (of touring), another two years and another two years. Then it’s happening and sooner or later it’s at least two years and then (before you know it) you realize, wow, 10 years went by really fast.”
In considering how to put the finishing touch on For Today’s career, the band decided the farewell tour was the best way to bring things to a close and thank fans for supporting the group.
“I think what this whole thing is about is our fans,” Lietru said, noting that this drove decisions about which songs to play on the final tour. “It isn’t necessarily about what we want to play or what we want to say artistically. It’s mostly about celebrating what we’ve done in the past with the people who have helped us go through all of these years.”
The band, which also includes Mattie Montgomery (screamed vocals), Lietru’s brother, Brandon Lietrue (guitar), David Puckett (drums) and Jim Hughes (bass), is also trying to bring different elements to the stage each night on the final tour.
Formed in 2005, the band went through a couple of early personnel changes, but had brought Montgomery and Brandon Lietru on board in time to make “Ekklesia.” With the second album, 2009’s “Portraits,” For Today began making an impact on the Christian scene, with that album reaching No. 15 on the U.S. Christian album chart.
What we tried to do was be an example for people of what integrity looks like and what sincerity looks like
For Today guitarist Ryal Lietru
The four albums that followed all reached the top five on that chart (with 2012’s “Immortal” going No. 1), while also making inroads on mainstream music charts. The three most recent albums each went top 10 on multiple rock album charts.
Lietru hopes For Today has had a positive impact on Christian music. As one of the early bands to bring metalcore to the Christian music scene, the group wasn’t exactly welcomed with open arms into the fold at first.
“I think initially there was some resistance within the (Christian) circle,” Lietru said. “This is kind of the red-headed stepchild of genres trying to come in. There definitely were, especially more so 10 years ago than now, there was a big resistance to that. I think there still is in certain sections of Christian society or whatever you want to call it. But yeah, I think we started to at some point become a little more accepted.
“I think what we tried to do was be an example for people of what integrity looks like and what sincerity looks like, in that weird Christian bubble that exists, what an example of trying to love people looks like, trying to be authentic,” he said. “Hopefully our band has been an example of what it looks like to do it right. That will hopefully last longer than our songs will.”