Spend five minutes with the members of CAIN and you’ll feel like you’ve spent the afternoon in the sunshine. The band’s effervescent joy spills over onto each person they meet, their bright smiles as contagious as their chill-inducing harmonies. Pouring their perpetual joy into their debut album Rise Up, CAIN - made up of siblings Madison Cain Johnson, Taylor Cain Matz and Logan Cain - has discovered what it’s like to live their calling while doing their favorite thing, singing about Jesus.
Making it to their Rise Up debut didn’t come easily or quickly. Raised in Alabama the kids of pastors, CAIN developed a love for music from an early age. By elementary school, they were integrated into the church service, playing and singing side-by-side, but never pursued music in a serious way. When a college friend alerted them to a contest hosted by Dave Barnes, the prize an opening slot at the Workplay Theater in Birmingham, they quickly worked up a cover of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” and shot a video. Over an eight-week period, the trio kept advancing to the next round, entering more cover songs and videos, until they finally won. “We found out we had to do original songs for the show,“ Taylor says with a laugh. “We didn’t have a band name, didn’t have any merch, didn’t know how to write a song. We were totally unprepared.”
Their grandfather, who worked in country music publishing, saw their performance and offered to help them make some connections in the industry. They’d grown up fans of both Christian and country music and jumped at the chance. For five years, they worked hard in the country music scene, learning the art of songwriting and how to live on the road. They had some hints of success, a song made it onto Sirius XM’s The Highway and they got the opportunity to play a CMA stage, but nothing concrete clicked into place. After some game-changing setbacks, CAIN decided to take a break from pursuing music, a decision that held more emotion than just a break from music. The trio grew up extremely close and the idea of being separated was more worrisome than giving up music. “I’d heard of people who operated that way,” Logan shares, “siblings living far apart. But the three of us shared a room until we were old enough to not. We shared an apartment in college. We’d never been apart.” CAIN stayed in Nashville and plugged into their local church, joining the worship team, content for that to be their sole outlet for music. “We were settled for the first time in a long time,” Taylor says. “We were at peace.” When a man in their church, their now manager Ron Smith, approached them about possibly pursuing Christian music, it felt like an overwhelming possibility. “CCM was all I knew, growing up,” Logan says. “I was raised on Third Day and Steven Curtis Chapman. But when the opportunity came up, we were afraid to start over. We’d done so much already.”
CAIN decided to follow through and holed up at Madison’s house to try and write a Christian song. Right away, it opened their eyes to what could be. “I used to think writing Christian music would be limiting because you could only write about certain things,” Madison says. “But really, it cracked us right open. Writing country music had limited us to what we could write about, but now we had our whole lives to draw from.” The band wrote three new songs and, with Ron’s help, booked a couple of meetings in town. Provident Label Group loved what they heard and offered CAIN a record deal. After signing, CAIN kept working on their craft and at the next meeting, had written “Rise Up,” “Yes He Can” and “Commission,” three songs that became the backbone of their debut album, Rise Up.
“We don’t regret what happened with country music.” Logan shares. “Every experience we went through snowballed to where we are now. It’s all connected.” “We feel right at home in CCM,” Madison says, “like being at church camp with your best friends. We love our record label. This joy you see is real.” “That can go on the record,” Taylor says. “We love our label.”
After signing with Provident Label Group, the band was able to pour their heart and soul into making the kind of music they’d always wanted to make. CAIN’s signature harmony-based, country-laced melodies are energetic joy-bombs. Even on ballads like “Commission,” a song the band calls a country song about Jesus, CAIN’s current of ecstatic love for Jesus bleeds through. Rise Up is a loud shout of thankfulness, a banner-waving hope, a windows-down blast of fresh air. The songs aren’t forced platitudes or formulaic Christianese but genuine, from-the-heart happiness lived by the band. When asked where all that joy comes from, all three siblings light up like sunbeams. “We’re not using happiness as wallpaper to cover the hole in the wall,” Logan says. “We’re saying if you’re not happy now, there’s happiness on the way.”
The band’s first single, “Rise Up (Lazarus)” went No.1 at Christian radio and for good reason. Its country-leaning, worship-fueled, family-magic-harmonies have the listener singing along half-way through the first chorus. “There’s freedom that’s been made available to us,” Logan shares, “but we have to choose to walk in it. The voice of Jesus calls us like Lazarus from the grave.” The response to the song has, according to the band, been the most fulfilling thing they’ve experienced since doing music full-time. “People taking ownership of this song, hearing stories of true miracles, it’s my favorite thing about music and my life to this point,” says Logan.
“Yes He Can,” a smile in a pop song, might be the truest to who CAIN is, both as a band and as individuals. It’s a full-flung belief in a God who’s done it and can do it again. It’s a yes to everything the band has been through and everything they hope to accomplish. The accompanying video, conceptualized and styled by the band, is the song brought to life, a cheering on of people in everyday situations who need encouragement to take the next step. It’s perhaps the overarching theme for CAIN - bright belief in a God who can do anything for you, who wants to do it, who has done it. “Mountains come in all types of sizes,” Logan says. “God still cares about your mountain no matter how big or small it is.”
For Madison, Taylor and Logan, finding deep-down joy has transformed their life, covered them in a constant blessing. Even launching their career in a pandemic couldn’t dampen their spirits, as told in their song “I’m So Blessed.” “We had eighty shows cancel in 2020,” Madison says, “and it became kind of sarcastic – I’m so blessed. But for us, we say it in faith. You don’t have to be having the best day of your life to be blessed.”
Listeners will certainly be blessed by Rise Up, an album of hard-won hope that radiates the kind of eternal happiness only found in the goodness of God.