Pandemic Brings Band Together Despite Distance

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Photo courtesy of From Big Sur.

Members of the ban From Big Sur.

Local band From Big Sur released their fifth studio album “Infinite Morning,” which was recorded at Cut and Run Studio in East Lansing, after a decade of making music led them to their latest record release

The experimental rock band had previously released three out-takes records and non-album singles in addition to the four previous studio-recorded albums.

Kevin Ream provides vocals, guitar, piano, and banjo in addition to working as an engineer, producer, and owner of Cut and Run Records and Studio. Mark King sings and plays the guitar and mandolin. Wesley Tkaczyk takes on the bass and vocals and Shawn Doolitte the drums and other percussion instruments.

The group has been recognized as a local staple in the rock scene when it landed in the Top 5 category for Best Rock Band in the City Pulse’s 2020 Top of the Town Awards.

Band member Kevin Ream spoke about the recent accolade. “It’s nice to be recognized in that way locally, but we know so many other musicians and bands in this town that deserve the same recognition. We hope that eventually happens,” he said.

“We very much appreciate it,” band member Mark King said. “We are a bit different from the usual rock band in that we play some music that may dig deeper than typical rock genres so it was a nice surprise.”

A new album in a new format in a new world.

The album also marks a first for the band – one of their records actually released on vinyl. “It’s something we’ve always wanted to do so we didn’t take any money home individually from gigs for a year,” Ream said. “We saved all that money to press up the album. It’s not cheap, but it’s a dream fulfilled.”

The album was written and recorded just before the pandemic hit in March, but getting it pressed and released to the public proved to be a challenge. An album release party was also canceled.

Given that the group is composed of multiple singer-songwriters, their records typically feature different lead vocalists and lyricists with ranging genres from song-to-song. Typically, the group would workshop songs together. But the band took a new approach this time around.

“Yes, we used to start from scratch together, but this time we each brought 3-5 songs to the group, and picked the best ones,” King said. “It was the first time we worked like this, and for the most part, it was quite successful and in a weird way actually gave the album more unity than the previous one.”

King felt an increase in getting to know each band member’s interests a bit more than usual and felt more inspired when working on other’s tunes specifically.

“We started to ‘submit’ our songs for the album three years ago now,” Ream said. “We really took our time with this album once we realized how good the songs were that we had for it.”

Photo courtesy of From Big Sur.

The cover of “Infinite Morning” by From Big Sur.

King’s songs on the record actually came from a concept solo album a few years back, but the band enjoyed them so much they landed on “Infinite Morning.” Because of the varying songwriters, lyrical content, and styles of music on the album, the two sides of the record prove to be very different.

King said the group is proud of the many directions the album took. Side one is a display of their rock side, focusing on electric instruments and attitude. Side two shows off a more acoustic Americana genre, showcasing social upheaval, relationships, and themes of escape.

“We had to chop it down from a double album,” Ream said. “We had so much great material that we also released digitally a companion album to ‘Infinite Morning’ that contains all of the extra material that isn’t on ‘Infinite Morning.’ Those can be found on From Big Sur’s ‘Out-Takes Vol. 3.’”

The album was released on June 5, once the group realized the pandemic wasn’t going anywhere.

The group realized that any chance for live concerts, fairs, and festivals was wiped from the calendars. “It’s kind of our ‘Sgt. Pepper,’” Ream said. “Not sonically, but in the way where the album is touring for us instead of us out there gigging to promote it.”

With a band who has been consistently touring and gigging for the past decade, this required rest acted as a blessing in disguise for From Big Sur. “We all had quite a bit of personal turmoil during the making of this album, so a break was needed even though we didn’t really know it. It’s probably saved this band,” Ream said.

Band manager Chris Wardell said the group’s music “just keeps getting better with age,” describing it as their “White Album.”

“They’re all my close friends, but I didn’t think this band would be together for much longer during the making of this album,” said Wardell. “The cracks were showing, but they took their time, worked tirelessly and meticulously, and it shows with this record.”

“Infinite Morning” and the entirety of the From Big Sur catalog is also available on CD, for download on their website, and through streaming platforms.

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