Is it a surprise that you have now been together for five years?
Rage: The “Crisis” line-up collapsed immediately after Hard Rock Hell 2018 and before that album was properly released, it was a whirlwind few months but it seems that was the best thing to happen to this band. I would guess that two weeks to put a new line-up together and not miss a single gig has to be a world record of some sort!
Isaac: When I first joined the band, I was not too sure how long it would last, to be honest. But 5 years on and it is as good (albeit somehow more chaotic) than it was when I joined.
Toby: I think it is more of a surprise to everyone else than it is to us! I was a little 18-year-old with short hair when I first joined. My first promise to Rage and Liam was I would grow my hair out, which I did. Now I am desperately trying to grow the matching beard, but it seems my face wasn’t told that I’m now a fully grown man! To be honest this lineup has felt solid since our first gig. Isaac and I had been playing together for a few years before Kaine, so we knew how each other worked. We all get on well as well, which I think is why we have kept going. We can joke with each other (most of the time at Liam’s expense) and at the end of it, we still love each other.
Liam: Yes and no. I am surprised that I became the drummer in the first place. I first came across Kaine in 2014, just as I was finishing senior school, and have been a fan since, and although I had been friends with all the guys since then, I was still surprised when Rage first got in touch with me when he had gotten the news that Chris would be leaving. I am also surprised we managed to get the lineup together 5 years ago so quickly, but I think as time has gone on, I’ve realised that this is most likely a lineup for the long haul. We all have a common goal, we are all mostly on the same page when it comes to songwriting, and we have all worked our arses off to get to where we are now.
How does it feel to be the most consistent line-up the band has had, and the only one to appear on back-to-back releases?
Isaac: I feel quite proud really, I know some people out there do not see us as the “real Kaine” but hey, they can think that. It is not my problem.
Toby: Ha-ha, we are the REAL Kaine now and there’s nothing you can do about it, Sean Connery!
Liam: I cannot honestly say I have thought about it too much. I guess it feels good. I think Rage will have stronger feelings because he is the one who had to deal with losing previous members and changing lineups before us. The consistency of this lineup has been rewarding, we have been allowed to make the band our own and I think what we have now is the definitive sound of Kaine. It is the culmination of the influences the previous lineups had drawn from (which I also love), and the influences that I and the other guys have been allowed to bring into the band.
Rage: Having stability in the line-up has helped me no end in trying to push things forward. Previous versions of the band seemed to fall apart right at the wrong time, meaning we had to start over every time. As far as I am concerned, this version of Kaine is its own band and the line-up. Of course, I am proud of past achievements and the work I did with past line-ups and members, but this has been the band solidly for five years now and has earned its right to be the band known as Kaine and is enjoying the rewards of not giving up on the project and sticking to the mission.
Did you expect to have recorded two full albums with the band?
Liam: Yes, I did. I began writing my stuff for the band pretty much from the get-go and knew that whatever happened, I wanted to record and write with the band for as long as I could.
Rage: I had written Reforge The Steel as we were putting this line-up together, so yeah, that was always my plan to do these albums, and more!
Isaac: When I first joined, I was not even very familiar with the band’s back catalogue, so wasn’t even sure how many albums they had under their belts already. So, I had no sure way of guessing how often we’d be in the studio.
Toby: I think Reforge The Steel was recorded and released within a year of the lineup coming together. That’s silly when you think about it. We could not have been together for a month when we started working on the first songs which was great. It made us feel like we were the future of the band rather than playing the other guy’s songs. I still loved playing the older stuff but there is something more special about playing songs we had put together.
What was the difference between writing and recording the new album After Extinction and Reforge the Steel?
Isaac: Except for the 4 or 5-hour drive? I feel that AE shows more of our individual influences than the previous releases we have done.
Rage: I wrote significantly less of this album, there is probably the least amount of my music, and solely my music, on this release than any previous, but then you could argue Reforge The Steel was as close to a solo album from me as you could possibly get anyway! I was more than happy for the guys to contribute to most of After Extinction!
Liam: I think the only thing I did not expect was how quickly Reforge the Steel came together. I knew that Rage already had a lot of the songs pretty much ready to go so that did give us a head start, but going from a demo to a full band composition still takes time, and a lot of work. We were doing a song a week at one point, while still doing gigs every other week and as a result keeping the setlist up to a high standard, while adding new songs as and when we were ready. I think that was probably the hardest we’ve worked when it comes to the writing process, pretty much just to hit home to the public that the band was not dead after the Crisis of Faith lineup dissolved earlier in the year. We got the lineup together in the spring of 2018, got the songs completed and ready to record by the time autumn was drawing to a close, and I recorded the drums for the album in the winter. I knew that we were going to be able to take our time with the writing for After Extinction, although admittedly I did not expect the process to be so drawn out. Thanks for that Covid!
Toby: A lot of the Reforge material was prepared by Rage already, so it was a very quick turnaround. After Extinction was a much more collaborative effort with the songs being written jamming at rehearsal which meant we could put much more of “our” sound into it. Some of the songs were written very soon after the release of Reforge. “The Cycle” was even being performed as an instrumental before Reforge was released.
What were your main songwriting contributions to the new album, and how did you come up with the ideas for your songs?
Liam: My main songwriting contributions to the album were Bright and Left Behind, which I presented to the band as complete songs. I wrote the structure for Bright within the first couple of months of joining the band and had the lyrics mostly completed, aside from a couple of tweaks, by the time August 2018 rolled around. I wrote them on a plane, while I was flying to Canada for my father’s wedding. The inspiration for the lyrics was just the idea of rebirth, which was the theme across Reforge. That is probably the reason why it feels more light-hearted than the rest of After Extinction. I wrote the song structure for Left Behind around the autumn of 2019. I was not sure about it originally, as I thought it would be too tacky and cheesy compared to the other songs we had brought out and were writing at the time. I even gave it the working title “Cheesy as fuck”. Luckily Rage liked it a lot, so we went ahead with it. I wrote the lyrics at around the start of 2021, although a lot of the pandemic memories blur together for me. The subject for that was a lot more personal. Like a lot of others, I have lost multiple relatives to dementia/Alzheimer’s disease. My step-grandfather was the first to go, and then in 2019 and 2022 I lost my great-grandfather and great-grandmother, whom I was always close with throughout my life and witnessed their deterioration. The subject of the song itself is the horrible feeling that someone in the initial stages must be feeling as they feel their mind slipping away, the mixture of fear, acceptance, and desperation to hang onto yourself. My final contribution to the album was the lead break before the solo in Protesting for Profit, as well as the final 2 riffs of the song after the last chorus. They were parts of a different song I was working on during the first lockdown, but something just was not clicking fully with it. In rehearsal, we could not figure out how to progress PFP, so I just said that I have a couple of sections from another song, let’s give them a try. And luckily it clicked perfectly!
Toby: I supplied the bulk of the songs “A Slave to the Grind” and “The Storm is Coming”. Slave is a fast-riffing thrashy song with some delicious harmonies and clean sections. It’s no secret that I’m a big Megadeth fan so this riff was inspired by their stuff. It is fast, it’s intricate, ITS SPEED METAL! Storm was written when I was listening to a lot of Galneryus and I wanted a song with massive lead guitar breaks so I could play and pretend to be a power metal guitar god. I love classical-inspired repetitive guitar leads which is where the main melody came from. It is a fun song to play even if I’m not a power metal guitarist and the solo is too fast for me to play.
Liam: I am not going to pretend that I wrote anything truly musically original on either Bright or Left Behind, I have no issue with saying what influenced me. 2 songs/albums that had come out at the time really defined 2018 for me and the band, they were Firepower by Judas Priest, and Prequelle by Ghost, from which I was inspired by a couple of chord ideas from Rats. Left Behind, unbelievably, was inspired by Strangers by Dragonforce, off their most recent album.
Isaac: My main contribution was most of the title track, After Extinction. It was originally just a video of me in my bedroom at 1AM with a guitar played acoustically playing a couple of riffs. I did not know that it would end up being the title track of the album.
Rage: A lot of my riffs are songs such as Second Coming, Protesting for Profit, and New Age Martyr but these were very collaborative songs, the only song that was purely “mine” really was Green to Grey but even then, the guys contributed to that.
How did the Extinction After EP come about? How was that written?
Isaac: Whenever we are writing songs, we always seem to end up with a selection of riffs and songs that we always have in the books. We ended up having too many for the current album so decided to release what is almost a “disc 2” with the other songs that we wanted to use but didn’t get a chance to. Some of the others were songs that were not quite finished when we were recording AE.
Rage: We just jammed the songs and they just turned out as they did with no preconceived ideas, none of the songs were ideas we previously had or had even demoed, we just jammed them in the studio.
Liam: Extinction After was just a case of us bouncing ideas off each other in the rehearsal studio. The writing process kicked off around the start of 2021, before After Extinction had even been recorded, with Toby playing the intro riff from what became All Hail the Evil One while everyone else was setting up, and Rage’s ears pricked up. We then proceeded to put together most of the structure in that session. I pitched in another riff of mine, which I guess you could call the main chorus riff. Again, I had another song for the beginnings of a side project I want to do, but the song did not click so I pulled a riff from that for us instead. I did the same thing for the chorus lead-in Dragonlord as well, although I thought that up on the spot as we were looking for something to beef up the chord progression of that section. That was the case for all the EP, we wrote the whole thing together in the rehearsal studio and put all our ideas together. On Repeat was just a fuck-about song. Rage also worked in a way to rip the band Wet Leg to pieces, a band that we all cannot stand! We have played it live a couple of times, the funniest time was when we played a show at the Rep in Ipswich last year, and Toby and Isaac went through the crowd to play the song on the staircase up to the balcony. It is essentially just a jam, it never had any real structure, and it never will!
Toby: That was written entirely through jamming in rehearsal. I’d play a riff. Rage would say “Is that yours” and we’d jam that and see what came out of it. I think our best stuff to date is on that EP. It’s a bit heavier than people are used to from us but that’s never a bad thing, is it really? There are some hard sections to play, there’s a lot of down-picking, and it’s an all-round riff fest. “On Repeat” also ended up being much better than it needed to be. It was supposed to be making fun of [insert god-awful indie band here] but it turned into a shreddy, silly musical joke.
Last year you had your first tour together as a band. What was the 2022 tour with Lillian Axe and Riot Act like?
Liam: Tiring… extremely tiring. I think the maximum amount of sleep I got on the whole tour was 4 hours. Most of the time we were surviving on half that while taking turns driving the van ridiculous distances to the next show! I remember Toby being passed out backstage after we came offstage at The Underworld in Camden, the last show of the tour, and he didn’t appear until the end when we packed up. We also really got on each other’s nerves, I found that me and Toby in particular butted heads more frequently as the tour went on. I think that’s more because Toby knows exactly how to wind me up and I fall for it every time! That’s about all the negatives though. The rest of the experience was incredible. Every band played killer sets every single night, the laughs, and memories we took from it were amazing, and it’s a time I will never forget. Also, all the guys in both Riot Act and Lillian Axe are incredible human beings and we all became good friends on the tour. I hope our paths cross again soon. You can guarantee that the next time either of those bands come back across the pond for a show I will be there.
Isaac: It was a new experience. Some tempers were tested a little, but what can you expect when you’ve only had about 4 hours of sleep for almost a week?
Rage: Touring with legends such as Lillian Axe and Riot Act was an honor and privilege. You can learn so much from acts like that, who are superb live and experienced. I love these bands so playing with them was a bit of a magical moment for me, I basically watched them live every night, taking it in and trying to learn from what they did. They were all absolute heroes to us as well! It was good to finally tour with the current line-up!
Toby: That was an amazing time. We all got way too sleep deprived and it was the closest we’ve come to hating each other but and the end of it we still loved performing and making music together. If there was ever going to be a test of how well, we worked together that was it. I know I can be an extremely annoying person to be around for any extended period and I did my best to get on everyone’s nerves. We had “everything-man” Alex and Charles “in charge” with us which was a lot of fun. 6 of us crammed into a Vauxhall Vivaro crew cab. Trying not to die from lack of sleep and in Rage’s case whatever he’d eaten the night before.
Isaac: Also gave me the incentive to check if a sofa is a sofa bed before sleeping in a chair for two nights. Just for Toby to mention he has the same one at home just as we’re packing up and leaving.
Rage: I don’t understand what they are complaining about, I don’t remember being tired at all. I am like that normally.
Are you looking forward to touring together again this year with ex-WASP legend Chris Holmes?
Isaac: I was not expecting to hear about going on tour again so soon after the previous one. It was only a couple of months after we got back from the previous tour with Lillian Axe and Riot Act that we got the offer.
Rage: Again, much like with Lillian Axe and Riot Act, someone like Chris Holmes is a legend in American Rock/Metal and was a huge part of W.A.S.P and that band’s golden era, playing on all the big albums and tours. It’s an honour to support him, and again I will be watching, listening, and learning all I can.
Liam: I am looking forward to the tour with Chris Holmes. I’m hoping for a similar experience to the Lillian Axe tour, and there are also a few different towns that I’ve never been to before added to the tour. So, I’m excited about it.
Toby: Of course. This one has some days off which will be very much needed. I think we all know now how to take care of ourselves better on the road, so we don’t end up near death again. We’re going to some new venues and new places so I am hoping we can pick up a few new friends in the week to further push us closer to being the rock stars we’ve dreamed of.
What are your favourite gigs and moments from the past five years?
Isaac: Of course, my favourite gig has got to be the Kaine X show at the Colchester Arts Centre. But another that I had fun at was the last show on the Lillian Axe tour at the Underworld in Camden. It’s been a venue that I’ve seen bands in over the last few years and have always wanted to play on that stage myself. And last year we had the chance to.
Rage: So many great gigs, headlining and packed-out Colchester Arts Centre was amazing, playing a sold-out Dome Tufnell Park supporting Blaze Bayley for Burr Fest was another amazing show, any of the tour gigs from last year!
Liam: Oh god there’s been so many amazing moments over the years. I think my favourite shows with this band have got to be headlining the Colchester Arts Centre for the Kaine X show in 2019, as well as Burr Fest at The Dome in London in 2020, our last show before the pandemic tore everything apart. My standouts from last year were also playing The Robin in Bilston and The Underworld in Camden, and also playing Club 85 in Hitchin and the Portland Arms in Cambridge earlier in the year with our good friends in Planet Fatale and Neverworld, with Death Valley Knights and Raze also on the lineup respectively.
Toby: The 10-year show at Colchester Arts Centre was without a doubt a highlight. Since seeing Dragonforce there as a teenager it had been a dream of mine to play there. It lived up to every expectation I could have ever had. It was packed, we played great, it was such a party. Burrfest was also a highlight. Isaac and I had previously seen Man With A Mission and Band-Maid at The Dome so that was also an exciting gig. Getting to play on such a big stage on a lineup with some big names in the world of Iron Maiden was such a big moment for us as a band. And of course, Liam falling off the back of the stage at The Smokehouse in Ipswich is a favourite moment of mine. How can you fall off a stage that is two inches tall and pressed up against a wall? YOU CAN’T, BUT OUR DRUMMER CAN!
Liam: Since being in this band, we have had so many experiences that should not be real. I don’t know what it is with Rage, but he seems to attract the weirdest bullshit everywhere he goes. I dare say he’ll tell the most bizarre account he can think of. I will tell you of a more recent one, and it happened on the first day of the Lillian Axe tour, at The Robin in Bilston. At the time, we had gotten to the venue on time, but the venue wouldn’t let us in for some reason. We went to the reception to see if they’d get someone to open the door for us. They didn’t immediately, in fact, we were stood outside for at least another half an hour before finally being allowed in. If I remember correctly, it was pissing down with rain at the time as well! Our guitar tech, Charles, was starting to get a bit more restless as time went on, becoming more and more desperate to go to the toilet. Eventually, he caved. He did what none of us would think of doing, he ran to the houses across the road, and knocked on a random stranger’s door, asking them if he could use their toilet. Amazingly, they let him in! He spent the next 15-20 minutes in the household of this good Samaritan, absolutely punishing their toilet, and finally emerged from their house much happier and probably about a stone lighter. I suspect the toilet needed counseling though…
Are you excited about the 5-year celebration gig coming up at Three Wise Monkeys?
Liam: Yeah of course I am. Not only are we playing with a lot of friends of ours, but I’m excited to celebrate our time in the band. Kaine X was the last event of that kind, but I think the main attraction, intentionally, was the one-off reunion of the Crisis of Faith lineup, and their setlist at the end of the night. It’s gonna be nice to celebrate solely our time in the band, and it will be a good chance to look back at what we’ve built together, and how far we’ve come as a live act.
Isaac: Definitely, nice to have a local gig with other great local bands and friends that we’ve known for a long time.
Toby: Of course, there’s been some struggles on the way but it’s looking to be a great night. We haven’t played in the newly refurbished Threewise Monkeys yet so I’m excited to see how the place looks. We’ve got a great lineup together for the night with Osmium Guillotine and Heathen Kings who we’ve played with multiple times before. Killerkorp this lineup of Kaine hasn’t played with before but I’ve seen them a couple of times and they’re an amazing live band. The gig is exactly 5 years since my first appearance with the band and I’m hoping I don’t hit as many wrong notes as I did that night.
Rage: Killerkorp is an exciting, young, Ipswich band that I have been following for a few years now and will be great on the night. Heathen Kings is another “new” band with members I have known from various acts over the years, whose music fits perfectly with ourselves and Osmium Guillotine, and obviously, we have a relationship with Osmium Guillotine going back years and my favourite band! Ticket sales have gone amazingly well considering we’re up against Blur, and Bloodstock Metal 2 The Masses just doors down on the same night! It’s going to be huge! Live album recording, video, the works!
What can people expect from the new live album?
Toby: Well, speaking of wrong notes… I’m hoping there won’t be any. There might be. OK, there probably will be. You’d think we’d know the songs by now, but we can always surprise ourselves with some atrocious renditions.
Isaac: A mix of older and newer songs from the current lineup, a bit of something for everyone.
Rage: Unlike previous live albums, I won’t be mixing it thankfully!
Liam: Hopefully a decent performance!
What are your ambitions for Kaine going forward?
Isaac: Hopefully we can get more tour offers or even a decent record deal/management contract.
Toby: I’m still hoping Rackstardom comes for us. It’d be wonderful to do the music thing full-time but until then just more albums. I’d also love to play some international dates at some point. That would be a lot of fun. Some more tours would also be great. I’m hoping we can start to work our way up as a regularly touring band.
Liam: My ambitions for the future are simply to continue building upon the foundation we have laid for ourselves since 2018. Slowly but surely, we will expand our fanbase and continue to build Kaine as a brand, and we have way more plans in the works to do so, and hopefully, they will bring much bigger and greater things for us. This takes a lot of time and work, but I know that all of us, Rage in particular, have the drive to get it done. I truly believe that this is just the beginning for us, and we can only become bigger. We have ideas for the next album too, I have 3 complete song structures already, along with a couple of lyrical concepts. After the tour is done later this year, we will probably start the writing process properly.
Rage: We are taking things one step at a time, but we’ve seen real growth over the last few years, our albums are doing better than ever sales/streams wise, our merch is doing good, our Patreon is strong, and only rare gigs are poorly attended and that’s usually due to poor promotion outside of our control. We are back touring, we are playing bigger venues, and we can go even further still.
What festivals would you like to play in the future?
Liam: I would love to play the biggest festivals, such as Download, Bloodstock, and Wacken, but I can’t say I think of it that much. Wacken would probably be the ultimate goal.
Toby: I think it’s every metal band’s dream to get to Waken, isn’t it? How great would that be? Playing in Germany with what would without a doubt be a stupendous line-up. On the other hand, I’d love to play something where we’d be completely out of place and upset the crowd. Glastonbury would be funny. They always get upset when someone like Metallica headlines. So, to have us on a smaller stage mixed in with a bunch of acoustic acts and indie bands would hopefully start a hippie riot!
Isaac: I’d love to play a festival like Wacken or something similar, but smaller festivals are also on my radar.
Rage: I would like to do Wacken, but realistically both Damnation and Incineration festivals would be two I would love to do in the near future. Proper brutal, real, Metal festivals with no bullshit attached. They attract a good crossover of people too.
Any dream gigs or venues?
Rage: I would like to play some of the o2 venues again on a future tour or get the chance to play the Waterfront in Norwich in support of a bigger band, the Arts Centre in Colchester again, and a few places like that! I would love to play in North America, Germany, and Japan someday too!
Isaac: Dream gigs would probably be supporting a large household-name band like Megadeth etc. But a venue I’d like to play in would probably be the Underworld again.
Toby: Any arena or stadium would be amazing and anything with an enormous stage would be great too. I’d love to play The Underworld again but without the weeks’ worth of sleep deprivation that we all had last time. Colchester Arts Centre is always fun, so I’d love to play there again. I’m also a massive Marty Friedman fan so to support him at some point would probably be a life-making moment.
Liam: A dream show would be to play in an arena. I’m not sure who with whom, but I would just love to play either an arena tour or a one-off arena show. The perfect scenario would be us headlining it, but realistically that probably won’t happen!