When the initial surge of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the United States led to the shutdown of public spaces nationwide, one of the first things that Brunswick-based singer/songwriter Pete Kilpatrick did was purchase recording equipment with hopes to continue making music. Now, almost six months later, the result is “Songs From The Green Room”: a five-track album written, recorded and produced from his home.
When Kilpatrick began recording in mid-March, it was far from his first time behind a microphone. He released his first album, “Half Way Home,” in 2003 and has since performed live over 1,000 times, including alongside Jason Mraz and Barenaked Ladies. His music has been featured in television shows such as “The Office” and “New Girl.” “Songs From The Green Room” is his eighth album, but it is the first for which he tracked his own vocals and instrumentals.
“I remember vividly that the owner of the music shop hand-delivered [the recording equipment] to my front steps,” said Kilpatrick in a phone interview with the Orient. “I obviously had no idea at that point how long this would be going on or how severe the pandemic would be, but I just kind of felt like I wanted to do some home recording. I just had a sense that I would be home for a while.”
From then through April, Kilpatrick began consulting YouTube videos and teaching himself how to record from home. He began writing and laying down vocals, guitar and piano. These initial tracks would soon become the foundation for “Songs From The Green Room.”
“I started writing about what I was seeing on the news and the feeling of being home pretty much every day and looking at the world in a completely different way,” said Kilpatrick. “I just tried to write some songs that were representative of the way I was feeling.”
While Kilpatrick was producing the album, the rest of his family—his wife, a teacher, and his two children, ages five and eight—were also isolating. Despite the challenge, Kilpatrick continued to find the time—and silence—in between his wife’s Zoom classes and taking care of his children to make music.
“It was a lot of late nights where I was just piecing together things once everybody was sleeping and I actually had a chance to find some time to think,” Kilpatrick said.
At the end of April, Kilpatrick felt ready to release his album and sent the tracks to his bandmate, Peter Morse, who had offered to help mix and finalize them. But, after hearing Kilpatrick’s songs, Morse became interested in adding some layers of his own. While in isolation, Morse and Kilpatrick continued working on the songs. Morse added in bass and percussion, and soon Kilpatrick’s solo album became a collaboration.
“We never actually got together in person because we weren’t really comfortable being in the same space at the same time,” said Kilpatrick. “So we ended up virtually collaborating, and I think it really helped both of us out. He brought the songs to a new place.”
Kilpatrick believes that the first track on the album, “Just Be,” is especially relevant to the personal challenges that listeners might be facing during the pandemic. In the song, Kilpatrick sings that “this”—feelings of loneliness, frustration and fear—“is temporary.”
“I feel like [‘Just Be’] has connected with a lot of people,” said Kilpatrick. “It’s just about allowing yourself to feel the range of emotions and not being too hard on yourself.”
While Kilpatrick released these songs with hopes of spreading positivity during a time of uncertainty, he intends for these songs to still have relevance after COVID-19.
“I wanted to try to write songs that would age well,” Kilpatrick said. “If I’m playing them two years from now, they’re not going to instantly bring everybody back to a time that they might not necessarily want to go back to.”
Kilpatrick recommends that anyone who wants to listen to something hopeful—and acoustic—should stream and purchase “Songs From The Green Room” on the Pete Kilpatrick BandCamp webpage.
“People who like alternative music will enjoy it, but I think it’s just for anybody who has lived through what we’ve all been living through,” said Kilpatrick. “The biggest message for the record is just staying optimistic.”