We’re celebrating our fourth anniversary tonight at the Smokehouse, Ipswich. We officially came together as this version of Kaine on May 12th, 2018, in what was the most chaotic period in the band’s history.
Since then, we have released an album (Reforge The Steel, 2019), several live albums (Kaine X Live 2019, Reforge The Steel Live 2019, two EPs (The Waystone, 2020 and Kaine, 2021), and have a brand new album (After Extinction) and two new EP’s coming out soon.
Tonight will be our 58th gig together since our formation.
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.
What have been your favourite moments from your three years in Kaine so far?
For me, the highlights of my time in the band have probably got to be the 10-year anniversary show at Colchester Arts Centre and Burr Fest at The Dome in London with my favourite of the two being the 10-year show, which has been the gig with the best crowd so far.
I also got a dent in my new car trying to find somewhere to park at night in the rain for a crappy hotel that was possibly also a drug den so there’s that too.
How have you changed since joining Kaine?
I own more shirts without sleeves and more music equipment.
But seriously, I feel that I’ve become more confident and comfortable when performing on stage. Before joining Kaine, I pretty much stood still, not doing much. Obviously, I’ve still got room for improvement but I’m getting there. For the next album, I’ve adopted the use of a pick for most of the new songs as I feel the sound of it suits some of the material much better. It’s also given me the chance to get more familiar with a pick as I never really used one in the past, with the only song prior having me sometimes use a pick was “Loudwire” on Reforge. Also apparently a lot of venues have crap monitors for bass players, If I even get one that is. I recall one venue claiming that they can’t put the bass through the monitors, so that was fun.
What were your experiences recording Reforge The Steel?
Most of the main writing for Reforge had already been done prior to me joining the band. I mainly just worked on my own basslines. But I feel that a lot of the time everybody is subtly changing what they play over the course of weeks or months of playing the same songs. Even some of the songs that we have recorded already are played differently than what’s on the album versions.
Recording Reforge was fun as we hadn’t really been working together as a band for very long, although Rage and Liam had been working together for a little while before Toby and I joined. And Toby and I were previously in another band together for a couple of years.
All the rehearsals and gigs leading up to the recording of the album did not prepare me for the seemingly endless guitar harmonies that were added to the songs on Reforge, however.
How about The Waystone Anniversary EP? How did you find working on that?
The Waystone was pretty fun to record, as a lot of the album had subtle changes with everyone throwing their own takes and different influences on the original versions of the songs.
The title track was probably the most difficult to learn and remember each part, what with how many different sections the song has and the different time signatures for certain sections. We also came to a decision of changing the original bass focus intro and making the song more concise. I think it’s the only time in any of the songs we’ve recorded that feature bass tapping except for my version of the bass fill in “Fall of Jericho” when we play that live. Even so, the final recorded version was different from the original version I initially wrote. As I initially wrote it on the six-string bass, utilising the high C string but In the end, I recorded it on the five-string and decided to not go as high.
What have you contributed to the new Kaine album?
On the new album, I’ve got a song that I wrote most of but had some input from the rest of the guys, I also have another couple of ideas that I just haven’t put into music yet.
And obviously, I’ve been mainly writing and playing my own basslines for each song but have been simplifying them somewhat to suit the different nature of the new material. The new album has been a different experience to write, as most of it wasn’t written beforehand with us learning how to play it.
Are you looking forward to hitting the studio in the coming months to record it?
Well, I can’t really say I’m not at this point, can I? Anyone want to take bets as to how many extra harmonies Rage and Toby add to the songs?
In all seriousness, being in the studio can be frustrating when you keep messing up the same take, over and over but at the end of the day, it’s great fun.
Are you excited to play live again, now the band is clear to play again?
Since March 2020, we’ve had a total of 1 gig, which was a Livestream only gig a couple of months ago. I can’t wait to be back out playing especially with the 13 or so gigs we have booked for the next few months this year. It’ll also give me a chance to use my new Spector that has been in the past few rehearsal videos in a live setting for the first time.
What are your ambitions with Kaine moving forward?
Well hopefully, as well as all the gigs we currently have booked, it would be great to get to play some larger venues, even as a support act for some more well-known bands. Of course, a tour or two wouldn’t hurt either.
I’d also like to try and get an endorsement of some kind from one of the brands I use, even if it’s just cables.
What would be your dream gig?
For a dream gig or scenario, think it’d have to be headlining a sold-out tour, not even necessarily in massive stadiums or venues. Just decent-sized venues with great crowds, doesn’t even matter where in the world they are.
Isaac Healy now marks his second anniversary with the band having joined officially on May 12th 2018 replacing Stephen Ellis. He would play his first gig with the band on May 26th 2018 at the B2, Norwich.
Isaac has since performed bass on the Reforge The Steel, and Kaine X live albums/DVD as well as the forthcoming Waystone EP and Reforge The Steel Live albums.
Today’s feature is Kaine bassist Isaac Healy, the last person to join the new line-up as the four members finally came together in May 2018. Isaac jumped in right away with the band gigging the A Crisis of Faith material while writing and rehearsing for the new album, Reforge The Steel.
How long have you been playing bass?
I’ve been playing for around 7 or 8 years
You are a multi-instrumentalist, you play drums, what made you switch to bass as your main instrument and what other instruments can you play?
I switched to bass as my main instrument mainly out of convenience of being able to practice easier and at any time.
I actually started out learning classical guitar at primary school and started learning the drums shortly after. Over the years, I never really practiced the guitar as much as I should have but have recently been re-teaching myself.
You have several basses in your collection, what do you own and what are your current set ups?
Listing all 17 would take a while so my top 5 in no particular order are:
Atelier Z M265+ custom (the white 5 string jazz bass that I play at most gigs)
Atelier Z Beta 6/32 (Red 6 string jazz bass that I played at my first Kaine gig and sporadically since)
ESP PPJ (’84 signature bass of Masayoshi Yamashita from Loudness)
1970s Ovation Magnum 1
2010 Fender Mexican Jazz (my first “real” bass. It was originally black but I had it re-finished in yellow. I promise it isn’t as nasty as it sounds)
What amps and pedals are you currently using?
I use 3 main amps depending on situation but will mostly have 2 with me. The first is the Trace Elliot ELF which lives in my gig bag as a backup amp or as the main amp if a normal amp is impractical logistics wise. Second is an Ashdown CTM 100 tube amp. My third and most recent amp is an ENGL Ironbass amp which is the most powerful amp I own by far at 800w.
My pedal board is too large, and I plan on downsizing by getting rid of the multi effect that takes up 1/2 of my board.
My pedals are actually mostly really boring. Line 6 G30 wireless, Boss TU-3 tuner, AMT bass wah, Electro Harmonix Bass Preacher compressor, Ashdown Nate Mendel NM2 dual overdrive.
Who are your biggest influences as a bass player?
Probably Billy Sheehan (Mr Big, etc.), Geezer Butler (Black Sabbath), Rocco Prestia (Tower of Power) and Bohte Daisuke (Kari Band).
What were your musical endeavours before Kaine?
I had only really been in one gigging band before Kaine which was called Cannon. I was in another band in secondary school, but we never did any real gigs.
You played with Toby in a band called Cannon, how long have you known and played with Toby, what did you release and what venues did you play with that band?
I’ve known Toby for about 5 years as we were on the same music course and we actually met in Cannon which somebody else on our course put together. In Cannon we played a few venues that you would maybe heard of if you’re from Essex such as Chinnery’s in Southend, the Asylum and Three Wise Monkeys.
Toby recommended you to Kaine to join the band, how was it to be in a new band and gigging so quickly?
I hadn’t actually heard of Kaine until Toby asked if I wanted to join. At the time Cannon was winding down due to constant lineup changes so it was good to be in a band that already had gigs on the books.
How did you find adapting the A Crisis of Faith songs to your style?
As I had learnt most of the songs by ear, something that I am definitely not the best at, and the fact that I didn’t already know the songs meant that I was sort of just winging it for most of the parts that were very Stevo. Most of which I just omitted or changed. (nothing against Stevo, I think he’s a much more melodic player than I and we have pretty different styles).
You put together the Reforge The Steel album very quickly, how was the process of rehearsing and recording that album for you?
The recording of that album was pretty easy for me, I managed to do all of my tracking in about half a day.
You also recently tracked your parts for The Waystone EP, how did you find that?
I found that The Waystone songs were quite a bit different to the Reforge tracks, especially the title track The Waystone. That track was much unlike the other tracks we had done, mainly due to how it was almost prog like in structure when compared to the rest of the material.
You played both the 10-year show with Kaine at Colchester Arts Centre, and Burr Fest at The Dome recently, what was it like doing those big gigs with the band?
Doing these two gigs was a great experience and not just because they were in the minority of gigs where I could hear what I was playing. These two gigs were two of the biggest crowds I have played for and two of the most engaged crowds to boot. That just made it even more fun to play in front of them.
Your currently writing material for a new Kaine album, how would you describe the new material so far and the process?
So far, this album seems to be shaping up to be quite a bit different to the previous albums sound wise. The process so far has mainly been just jamming a riff or two and seeing how it evolves.
How are you managing your time during the lock down?
Either practicing bass or just playing video games.
You are also releasing a new live album coming up, which was recorded at the B2 Norwich, are you looking forward to putting out a live version of the Reforge The Steel album?
Finally, what is your thought of the day?
Can animals have the equivalent of an accent?
You can hear Isaac’s contributions to Kaine on Reforge The Steel by clicking here – there are still a number of CD’s available to order through Bandcamp. Isaac also performed at Kaine X which can be ordered both on CD and DVD by clicking here as well as the forthcoming Waystone EP which can be preordered here.