Hear First: Field Medic’s fade into the dawn

A track-by-track guide to the new album by Kevin Patrick himself.

This is a very different album than any I have ever made, or will ever conceivably make again. The circumstances from which it came made the completion of this record very difficult and time consuming in a way that I generally cannot handle.

In November of 2016, I decided to quit my job and leave San Francisco to go live with my friend Derek in LA. I’d been living in a sunroom as an illegal tenant for the last five years, paying only $400 dollars a month in rent, which allowed me to work three days a week and dedicate the rest of my time to writing and recording music. I knew that if I left the sunroom, I’d likely never be able to afford rent again in SF, but strangely enough I felt that the sunroom was ready for me to go. Throughout the five years I was there, I’d plastered every bit of wall, door, and window with artwork and writing. I’d written and recorded so many songs in there, and in a lot of ways, it’s where I’d grown into an adult. It felt like the sunroom itself was a  masterpiece that had been finished and I had to walk away in order to keep growing.

When I arrived in LA, I only had three of the songs from this album written: “i was wrong,” “mood ring baby,” and “hello moon;” I had plans to start recording when I got to LA, but nothing really materialized. At the time, I was really deep in a fog of anxiety and depression, which, paired with no house and no job, led to a pretty pitiful drinking habit. By some stroke of luck, a couple of tour opportunities came up and I was able to start playing music for more people, and it seemed like the LA move had been the right one. At this time, I still hadn’t signed to Run For Cover Records, so even though some cool stuff was happening, there wasn’t much stability in my future from what I could see.

I wound up dating someone who I’d met right before I left SF more seriously after I moved, so I would periodically ride the Megabus back to the bay and stay with her for weeks at a time. My friend Tommy P ran a small studio out of his house that happened to be a short walk from her place, so I contacted him one day when I was in SF. There, the album really began to take shape. We recorded “I was wrong” and “mood ring baby” over the course of two days, along with a few other tracks that didn’t make the cut. I was having trouble bringing these new songs to life on my 4-track, as I’d done for all my older music — it was refreshing to play with other people.

Back in LA, my friend Ben Burney has this amazing studio in North Hollywood. We’d spent countless nights trying to record a few other songs that also didn’t make the cut, but nothing really ever clicked. A couple months later, I wound up there a day after I’d written “the bottle’s my lover…” and we very quickly set up and recorded it live in one take. I remember laying on the ground while he set up the mics and forcing myself to write the bridge for that song, which spawned the lyric “…fade into the dawn…” which became the title of the album.

Those three songs and a couple others were on the secret SoundCloud which, after some time, would find its way to RFC. After the deal happened, everything got a lot more chaotic and exciting. In August of 2018 after being a drifting hobo for almost two years, I moved into my own room in LA, and in that house I recorded “used 2 be a romantic” and “tournament horseshoe,” which were the final two songs added to the record. You can find pieces of the story in the following track-by-track breakdown.

“used 2 be a romantic”

This song is the story of one literal night, but also of a state of mind I’d gotten into from being on tour for too long. I wrote it in my head on a train from NYC to Boston the morning after the show where “those fuckers talked over my whole set.” It was giving me satisfaction to look at that show through the lens of being some guy who’d been wronged and was suffering so much for the gig. That kind of dark/dumb humor tends to cheer me up. I was fiddling with it in the green room before the show in Boston, and decided to play it on stage and forgot the lyrics half-way through. Even though I forgot the words, the crowd seemed to get a kick out of what I managed to remember in the same way I had been getting a kick out of writing it, so the first thing I did when I got home from that tour was record it. The original title was “Clam Chatter in The Heart of Brooklyn.”

“i was wrong”

I remember being really bummed out in my living room in SF, feeling really guilty about anything and everything for no particular reason. To cheer myself up, I decided to start fantasizing about all the beautiful and wacky things I’d like to have and do in my lifetime instead of wallowing in that state of misery. The “wrong ain’t me” lyric turnaround just kind of fell out along with the rest and felt really cathartic. I think it’s good to recognize that everyone makes mistakes, big and small, but that doesn’t define the person.

“the bottle’s my lover, she’s just my friend”

I was having a really hard time sitting down and focusing on writing a song, probably because I would spend all my time drinking and chain-smoking on the porch. I didn’t have the energy to do anything I cared about because I wasn’t sure what the point was. I recall sitting in a pink chair and grabbing a guitar that was in arms’ reach and just so happened to be in DADF#D, and the whole song came tumbling out. I must have been writing in somewhere in my subconscious.

“henna tattoo”

It’s about loving someone, but that love not being established out loud between the two of you yet, and the constant state of anxiety that goes along with that. The song was originally based on a haiku: “If you find your breath/anxiety, like henna/disappears in time.” This one came to me very naturally at a time when I wasn’t writing as many songs as I had in the past. It’s one of my favorites from the album for that reason, but also because it’s the only song I recorded the old songs from the sunroom way with a drum machine and a 4-track. I think more songs on this record would have been done like that, but this was the last song recorded on that particular machine before it broke. It was a good song to go out on.

“hello moon”

I wrote this song quite a long time ago when I was messing with a variation of open D tuning, but with the low E still E. It was originally played much faster, then eventually I settled on it being an instrumental. I went to my friend Tommy P’s house one day and we decided to try this one out. We recorded it pretty quickly, but we slowed the song way down. Tommy played drums, bass, and the electric guitar drone, which really ties everything together. It’s about the anxiety I feel as the sun starts to go down every night — I’m almost compelled beyond my control to start drinking. “Do what you’re gonna do…” I say to the moon as I fall prey to this compulsion time and again. The “dark thought” referenced in the chorus is whatever little piece of anxiety that has been with me on that particular day; sometimes it’s clear what that is, other times not so much, like a Rorschach. The second verse is about a fantasy world where it’s always sunny and I’m with some unachievable loved one or lover. It’s a simple song, really.

“tournament horseshoe”

This was the last song added to the album. I had been sober for a month or so and my girlfriend had been sober with me, and I really appreciated that support. I hadn’t played banjo in a while, so I picked it up one day with all this in mind and out came this song. My friend Derek and I recorded it the next night in his studio in the garage of our house in about an hour. I have released songs on Valentine’s Day for the last  four years, and this is the sort of song I would have put out for it, but because of the album, it wasn’t going to make sense unless I just threw it up on YouTube or something. I liked this song more than that, so we added it in the middle of the album. A little spunkiness to kick off the b-side of the record.

“songs r worthless now”

I wrote this in the period of time when there seemed to be a natural disaster or mass shooting every other day. I’m not a very political person in my day to day life, but it really felt like — and still feels like — this phase of humanity is going to be the end of the world as we know it. Writing the song helped deal with some of those emotions, but I also realized as the song was coming to a close that this song isn’t going to do anything in the grand scheme to fix the bigger problems. Songs r worthless now…

“mood ring baby”

This one’s about creating fantasies about every beautiful person you see, and feeling like an outsider who’ll never be a part of their world. It’s about having an unrequited crush on someone (no matter how dumb that sounds), so you just sit at home and write songs about them while they’re off living their life with no concept of how deep your longing is. This song is somewhat of a sequel to “GYPSY DEAD GIRL” from songs from the sunroom.

“everyday’z 2moro”

This song originally came out on Valentine’s Day 2018 — another ode to love. It’s about when I was my girlfriend’s house in SF before I had a room of my own. She works a real job and would go to work in the morning, and I’d be left to my own devices all day in her apartment. Maybe I’d grab a few tall cans and get buzzed at the laundromat washing clothes; I’d often find myself drunkenly scrambling to get the room in order before she came home, because I’d just been drinking all day playing guitar and making dirty dishes. This was also the first song I ever recorded myself on a computer as opposed to a 4-track.

“helps me forget…”

This song is sort of a cousin to “used 2 be a romantic.” It’s exploring a similar theme of being in an amazing place in your life — one that if you told your younger self about, they wouldn’t believe it — but still somehow feeling this deep sorrow and lack of direction in your personal life. I was very sedentary around this period and would just lay around all day smoking and drinking and… feeling sorry for myself, I guess? I recorded this in one take on a voice memo in my phone, right there by the window. I tried to re-record it back in the bedroom studio in LA when I got home, but the feeling was gone so the voice memo is what’s on the album. I sent it to my friend Brandon who time stretched the whole thing to make it a steady tempo and put the drums in on the second verse. This is one of my favorite songs from the record.

(Photo Credit: left, Julian Larkin)

Kevin Patrick is a songwriter and performer based in Los Angeles, CA. He will release his new album fade into the dawn as Field Medic on April 19 via Run For Cover Records.

(Photo Credit: Julian Larkin)