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Kalinich and Tiven became fast friends early in the last decade, traveled to India together on a spiritual quest and wound up writing their first song together, “Everything’s Exploding.” Stevie had made a series of spoken-word albums, one produced by his old friend Brian Wilson who wrote the music for it. In putting together the California Feeling album which featured performances by Carnie & Wendy Wilson, The Honeys, David Marks, and many other Beach Boys-related artists singing his lyrics Kalinich included his collaboration with Jon -- the first time Tiven had sung lead on a record since the late 1970s. When “Everything’s Exploding” attracted a lot of positive notice, Stevie floated the prospect of doing an entire album with Tiven.
This pair wrote and recorded over 200 songs together and having narrowed that down to the cream of the crop turned the recordings over to the brilliant producer/mixer Mark Linett who’s also worked with Brian Wilson and his associates for many years.
When they delivered the first five tracks intended for Shortcuts to Infinity to MsMusic Productions CEO Carol Schofield, she was so impressed she insisted that they expand the project to a 2 CD set. But rather than just double the length of the project already underway they chose a radically different tactic: “We decided we had to do something completely different,” illuminates Kalinich, “so we invented two characters in their late 20s to do our dirty work, the ‘Rev. Stevie Nobody’ and ‘Jack #ashtag.’ They are a little ruder and cruder than us, they lack the ability to edit themselves or hold back what would embarrass Jon or myself. And that’s a good thing!”
Between the two CDs’ there are 30 songs in all, and although they were created by the same creative team Symptomology and Shortcuts to Infinity
are two very different albums. Symptomology
may superficially seem more boneheaded with songs like “Cul De Sac” and “Once My Zits Go Away,” but then “When I Leave My Body” embraces the transcendental as is illustrated by the David Masnato-created video.
The dual album also features collaborations: Queen’s Brian May co-wrote and played incredible guitar on the 7-minutes plus “Out of the Darkness”; the legendary Steve Cropper’s co-composition “Time Bomb” bears his inimitable stylistic stamp as well as some deliciously greasy guitar; Detroit’s first Soul Singer Willie Jones (of The Royal Jokers) lends his unmistakable pipes to “God Helps Those Who Help Themselves.”
“We know there’s a lot to absorb here,” Tiven explains, “this is not an album for the mentally lazy. When you get a great book, or DVD, you want to spend some time with it, and we wanted to give that experience. There are some songs that you’ll catch on first listen. But Stevie’s lyrics are profound and there’s a lot hidden that you’ll have to dig deep to get the full benefit of. And we’ve got more, stay tuned.” Indeed.