The new version of Kaine was officially formed on May 12th 2018. But How did we arrive at this point?
The original band had been formed in 2009 and had had various line ups over the years, the people in the band would usually gradually change over time so things didn’t seem so radical to the wider audience. However in 2016, following the departure of founding member Dan Mailer (bass/vocals) and Ant Murch (lead guitar) in 2015 the line-up of myself, Chris MacKinnon (drums), Saxon Davids (lead guitar) and Stephen Ellis (bass) formed in 2016. Dan and Ant had been known to most people as they had both performed on our first two albums, Dan had left in August 2015 and Ant left at the close of play in 2015. Stevo had been with us a few months already when Anthony departed, and Saxon first joined the band in 2014 as a substitute for Anthony on a tour he couldn’t do and just remained in the band from that point alongside Anthony so the transition between Dan and Anthony departing didn’t seem that different or radical to those who had followed us for years.
The 2016 version of Kaine would go on to be a very popular line-up, from playing our regular shows at The Soundhouse in Colchester, the Asylum in Chelmsford, the B2 in Norwich and The Smokehouse in Ipswich among others. We built up a real following of regular gig goers and supporters during that period and began to write a new album, which would eventually end up being A Crisis of Faith, an album which we played most of the stuff live before we recorded it. There was a real emotional attachment between that group of guys and audience throughout that period and real desire to see us do well. We released A Crisis of Faith in early 2018, and although our fans loved it, it was largely ignored by the wider Metal audience and it didn’t really pick up much steam. Because it took a more modern, proggier direction from our previous release The Waystone it was met with a lot of criticism from the New Wave of Traditional Metal community and it generally didn’t go down well with that audience. We had a number of gigs booked and were also on the biggest festival billing we had ever been on, at Hard Rock Hell Metal 2018 playing the same stage as Grave Digger. We played the gig and we went down a storm at the sold out o2 Academy, Birmingham and it looked like to many on the outside that things were about to happen for the band.
Sadly, life doesn’t work out that way.
Internally within the band there were a number of personal circumstances that would force change. Chris was the first to depart not long after that in April, but this was largely an expected departure due to Chris own circumstances and thus I had already sounded out Liam Etheridge as a potential replacement. Liam is someone I knew from way back as his old band Asylum had played with Kaine on a number of shows, someone who I knew was a good drummer and a decent guy and someone who I thought would work really well for the band. I did however offer Josh (or original drummer) the opportunity to come on board again if he would like to, but he was busy with A Bribe for the Ferryman and Dismanibus at that time as well as working with Elimination. Chris formally left the band and Liam came in the week later, rehearsed and we were back to gigging almost straight away with no downtime. Stevo however had said to me at this point that he didn’t enjoy playing in the band without Chris and said he would stick it out but was generally unhappy.
A few weeks go by and Saxon calls me to inform me that he was leaving the band to move to America to be with his then fiance. I accepted his resignation and then called Stevo to offer him his release from the band. Both agreed to stay as long as it would take to find replacements.
I called Liam and gave him the bad news, and we agreed that it was probably game over for Kaine but we would see what our options were and try and keep it going.
I offered Dan and Anthony their old spots back, but Dan had recently joined Osmium Guillotine as a vocalist and was suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome which was restricting what he could do on bass. Ant was playing in covers bands and couldn’t commit to Kaine at that stage. People may think its strange to invite former members back to the band but I feel its a matter of courtesy. Josh, Dan and Ant poured a lot of their own time and money into Kaine in the early years and the band simply would have never existed without them. The least I can do is offer them their position back if it comes up. I never want to be one of those musicians who never asks someone back or holds grudges about departures. Life happens. People have their own reasons for leaving bands, usually varied and you can’t take it personally and you have to respect what they did to help make that band happen to begin with. We wouldn’t exist without those guys, or anyone who has been in the band these past 12 years and they deserve the credit for what they contributed. I knew they couldn’t come back, it’s just a matter of respect, and I respect them enough to ask, even if it is a “no”.
So, the night of the departure announcement I put up an advert for both positions and go to bed thinking that it was probably game over. In fact I had written a retirement statement that night anyway as I had fully expected it was game over. At that point in my life things were a bit of a nightmare anyway, I had started shift work in a warehouse after being made redundant the year previous from a job I had been at for a long time. I was working hard and my hours were all over the place, so my brain was scrambled trying to adapt to that on top of the band imploding suddenly immediately after an album release. I also had a ton of unsold CD’s, shirts and vinyl’s from that release which probably cost me close to £10k to produce altogether that without a band, wouldn’t have been sold so I was in a bit of a desperate situation financially as a result. I am not a wealthy man, so spending that sort of cash (not all at once might I add) on making that recording and then printing the CD’s, Vinyl and shirts to not sell them would have been a huge issue as I wouldn’t have had money to survive on! I think it’s worth pointing out that there are no issues between myself and any of the members from the A Crisis of Faith line-up. That is not the reason the split occurred. As with anything, its more complicated than that and I respect their decision to leave the band.
A few people have had digs at me for my decision to continue the band. They probably don’t understand that the A Crisis of Faith line-up wasn’t the original band and we had always had changing members over the years. They also were probably unaware of the financially implications to me personally if the band did end. I swallowed all of the bands costs (and still do) and don’t get that money back without sales so for me to put out a record without selling it would have been financial suicide for me at the time. This wasn’t about my ego.
The next morning I was messaged by a guitarist named Toby Woods about trying out. I asked if he could do Saturday, which he could, which was just a few days away and we booked in a try out. Toby went away and learned the stuff. That day I had a message from Dan suggesting I try out “this guy” and sends me a video. He had tried out for Elimination when Dan was working with them and didn’t get the gig. It turns out that guitarist was Toby. Dan’s pretty good at spotting good players so that’s a good endorsement to have going into your first try-out with Kaine!
On the Saturday session at Pioneer it was myself, Stevo, Liam and Saxon with Toby. We go to start playing Heavens Abandonment from A Crisis of Faith and Toby just didn’t join in. I am thinking in my head, this isn’t good and look over to Liam who looked back at me in silent agreement. We stopped playing and asked if he wanted to join in this time. So we start and Toby then plays the song through exceptionally well. Relief. It turns out he was just watching Saxon to just get an idea of how he played the song! The rest of audition went perfectly and we offered him the gig, well Stevo did actually, which was a bit cheeky as he was leaving the band as well! But that was fine as we were in a agreement. We causally asked him as we packed down if he knew any bassists and he said he had a mate who could play bass. We asked if he could ask him to try out, and by that evening his mate was booked in for a audition the following week. Toby was announced for the band and Saxon had officially departed as of that point. He never did find America though.
The week after Isaac Healy, who Toby had played with in Cannon, tried out for the band. Myself, Liam, Stevo and Toby were present. Again it went well and he was offered the position, which he accepted. He and the new line-up were announced that night. Toby would have his first gig with us on the 19th (the following weekend), which would be Stevo’s last show, at The Smokehouse, Ipswich and the new bands very first gig would be May 26th at the B2 in Norwich and we have been together ever since.
During this period I started writing what would become Reforge The Steel. We would learn and work on the new songs between gigs and even began recording it in November 2018, just months after the line-up had changed and not even a year after A Crisis of Faith. We would continue to gig and work on the new album, Reforge The Steel until it was finally released in 2019. We’ve since played 40+ shows together (which would have been a lot more before Covid hit!) released The Waystone anniversary EP, two live albums, another EP and are just about to record a brand new album. This will also be the first time in the bands history that the same line-up has appeared on back to back albums.
I will cover more detail from the new line-up period in more posts throughout the week, I just thought this would be a good starting point to give more details on how this version of Kaine formed, and why.