Kaine 2018 Year in Review – To the End, and back…

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So, as you will recall towards the end of 2017 the band had just finished recording A Crisis of Faith and we were in the final mixing stages. I was in the process of sending the album to as many labels as possible in the hope someone even listen to it and to help promote the album throughout 2018 I had booked us a run of regular shows where I would hire the hall and promote myself due to the lack of active promoters on the scene in the hope that once the album was out that those shows would in fact act as our “market stall” as it were to draw people in, usually for free entry shows and then sell them an album and general merch on the night to help cover costs. However, the album was slightly delayed in it’s release so the first few shows we did we didn’t have an album to sell.

We started out in Stamford, the attendance on the night was reasonable given the fact the Voodoo Lounge charges on the door and we met a number of new people who would go on to become regulars at our shows throughout the rest of the year. We then did a couple gigs in Norwich which were also both reasonably well attended and then we were in Hertfordshire at St Albans and Welwyn Garden City, the Welwyn gig was a particular good one as it was rammed but it was the Friday before our biggest gig ever so initially 2018 started shaping up really well for the band leading to the album release and immediately after.

We released the album digitally through YouTube on February 4th. We did a special pre-order price of digital copies for £3 and £8 for the CD along with other options which did well. We did think more people would take a chance with the album for £3 then we actually made in terms of digital sales, purely as it was so cheap and while it did okay it was disappointing, we couldn’t sell more digitally at that price. CD’s continued to be the stronger for sales for us overall.

On February 18th we played a sold-out Birmingham o2 on the main stage for Hard Rock Hell Metal, for what was our biggest ever gig. It was utterly surreal and even thinking back I still don’t know how or why we were there playing the same stage as Grave Digger and Alestorm, but it happened and will easily be one of the best moments of my life. A few people assumed that this would launch the band onto the next level as the reviews of the set were all strong, people really got behind us on the day and it felt like something special had indeed happened. Sadly, this wasn’t the case and we didn’t get any bigger bookings, tour offers, label offers, management offers or the like off the back of doing that. While I was on the stage, I took it as a once in a lifetime experience, I knew that I probably wouldn’t get another shot at it so enjoyed every moment of being up there playing our music to such a big audience and on an amazing stage.

The album did well with reviews, but we were rejected by all the labels we sent it out to, as well as management and what not. I even gave a copy to Tobias Forge of Ghost in the hope he well may listen to it as he’s the biggest thing in Rock right now. We haven’t been helped by the way social media has changed since the last album. It’s become a battle of trying your posts to be seen and I expect theres a ton of people who are still unaware we even put the album out because platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like simply don’t show them our posts, even if its paid advertising.

In fact, I am suspect even with the paid advertising about how many real people actually see it. Facebook used to be really good for targeting audiences and getting the right people to see your product but now it’s very hit and miss. We were even banned from promoting posts at one point and they couldn’t give us an explanation other then they didn’t support our business model. I did a lot of follow up trying to find what that meant and eventually they saw sense and let us promote our posts again, but still, very few people are seeing what we do and that’s a shame as we now have over 11k people on the page, of which a few hundred see what we do, and less than 50 will interact with it. Changes to social media platforms have in reality made them pretty useless for bands without huge budgets to be frank.

The majority of gigs we did in 2018 were self promoted. The idea as I said was to use these gigs as an opportunity to sell merch and the new album. The majority of the self promoted events were well attended, although we did have a few stinkers as everyone does now and again. I won’t be continuing this model as we didn’t sell as much merch as we would have hoped and most nights we were running at a loss after hire, soundman and promotion was paid and that’s even when the venues were rammed.

The only people benefitting from our shows were the venues themselves who were making on the bar, but they weren’t actively promoting the events it was all on me which is hard work even without taking into account all the organisation that goes into running a gig anyway. I can’t afford to keep losing money on running gigs and to not even cover costs means we simply cannot continue that. I do appreciate the venues allowing us to run shows with them, but equally they don’t even tell their own customers the events are on let alone do anything substantial on social media to promote them, so for them to have a well attended night and sell plenty of drinks on an event I have essentially paid for, promoted and organised to make a loss just seemed a touch unfair. It generally comes down to the problem many bands have in that music can be a hard sell, where as drink tends to be more popular! Iron Maiden were smart enough to get into both!

I don’t want to get into this next bit too much as I have covered it several times, but we had played a great show in Ipswich at the end of March and I had invited the guys over to sign a ton of CD and merch orders we had online when the walls started to fall in. We had taken the April off to write the follow up to A Crisis of Faith so all the plans were in place to begin. Chris after the signing then informs us, he has to leave the band to be able to make a living elsewhere, he had been in the band 6 years but through everything we hadn’t “made it” and he needed to get his life on track and simply couldn’t afford to be doing what we were doing any longer. I thought the band was dead at this point and had pretty much told him that had probably killed us, not long after the album release it was a body blow that the majority of bands wouldn’t recover from.

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I talked about continuing with Stevo and Saxon and we tried out Liam on drums during the April break, playing our first gig with him on the 20th at the Dev. It was at this point that Saxon called me to say he was also leaving the band as he had decided to in short, leave the country. After I got off the phone with Saxon I called Stevo to offer him his release from the band, as he hadn’t been happy with the fact Chris had left anyway and I am of the view that you simply cannot continue with an unhappy camp and it’s best just to end it. I know a few people still believe there are personal issues between us, and that I was somehow to blame but it really isn’t the case and we are all still friends and are in regular contact even to this day. I then called Liam and explained what had happened, we agreed to try and find a new line-up but accepted the band was probably dead.

We played our final official gig with Stevo and Saxon on May 4th, Chris even joined us on stage for a bit. I actually broke down in tears on stage and after, I thought, well, this is it, after 9 years of solid graft to build this band, it was dead. I had written my retirement statement shortly after, ready to post, and my plan was to entirely give up music and vanish into the background. It was over, I was now a 32 year old man who’d been trying everything to make it a success but had ultimately failed and it was time to accept my fate. I do believe that the fact the line-up ended so quickly after our album release as one of the reasons the album was slow to sell to begin with as people had assumed it was game over.

Saving the band at this stage was my biggest ever challenge and by some miracle it actually happened. Toby had gotten in touch on the morning of the resignation announcement of Saxon and Stevo, I hadn’t slept very well given what was going on and woke up to see he was asking to try out, I said that was fine and arranged a rehearsal for the Saturday. Saxon sat in on the try out to help out, along with Stevo and Toby performed amazingly well so we offered him the spot in the band. We then asked, “you don’t know anyone who can play bass do you?”. Turns out he did, so we played our next show on the 19th with Toby, but in the morning, we had in fact tried out Toby’s friend Isaac on bass and invited him to join the band. We played that last show with Stevo and the new band debuted in Norwich just 7 days later. The miracle had happened, the band had been saved. To be fair on Chris, Saxon and Stevo they had all said they’d remain with the band until a new member could be found so there was never any threat of the band cancelling gigs, and they did just that, it just happened a lot quicker than many would expect.

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What I will say, which isn’t well known is that when the members left, I had, out of respect for those musicians, offered the spots firstly to the members who appeared on Falling Through Freedom. Naturally they declined for a myriad of reasons as they all had projects and situations that would prevent them from re-joining the band at that time. All three of those guys, Josh, Dan and Anthony put a lot of time, effort and money into Kaine and I wouldn’t ever not offer them a spot in the band because I appreciate what they did to help create it, and the music we are known for now. It’s the same for the Crisis line-up. While I am the guy people know Kaine for, the reality is I would have been nothing at all without the other musicians that contributed to the band over the years.

People were surprised and cautious about the new line-up arriving so quickly after the old one. There was an expectation that the band wouldn’t be as good or would sound so radically different it wouldn’t be the same. Those who saw us, were very surprised that not only was this band was good but it still sounded like Kaine.

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Proving myself again was the main focus after the line-up had been put into place and I decided to write an album which over the last few months I’d been teaching the new members and rehearsing it with them every Saturday since. We have since played 22 gigs with that new line-up, we’ve had guest spots from Dan, Anthony, Chris, Stevo and Saxon since too. There have only been a few bad gigs out of those 22 we had, the worse two was a show in Swansea attended by two people and where we had merch stolen and we played a Skatepark music day which every had left by the time we played, including the event organiser, and played to four people! My amp also died so that was a top night. We’ve also played in London more regular with this line-up which has been really fun as we’ve started to connect with the scene down there more than we have had for years.

This month we have started recording the new Kaine album with the material written and rehearsed over the last few months. I am still a bit in disbelief that we pulled it off. We spent two days tracking the drums last week and Liam performed amazingly well for his first say in the studio and impressed throughout. The new Kaine music, still sounds like what we had done in the past, but I have gone for a more straightforward Metal direction on this album with big chorus’s. I really look forward to finally recording it, I have been really working on my voice so it’s even better for this record too as I need to be able to deliver on this album, as well as my guitar playing probably being my best ever right now.

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Finally thank you to everyone who stuck with me and offered support throughout 2018, easily the hardest year I have had with the band and thanks to Liam, Toby and Isaac for coming on board and helping me continue the band. I am going to start pushing the 10 year show again after the new year, if you haven’t got tickets and want to see all the band members again one last time and help us celebrate in a great venue as well as get a ton of merch for free I encourage you to buy tickets for this event.

Love, Rage

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