Singer-songwriter Prateek was initially joking when he posted on his Facebook page last year that he wanted to record a live album, just him and his guitar, and call it “The Band’s All Gone.” He wasn’t expecting a flood of comments encouraging him to do it. Neither was he expecting a friend who worked at Somerville’s Q Division Studios to message him saying that if he wanted, they could make it happen — which they did, recording with a live audience not too long before Christmas.
And it’s safe to say that absolutely no one expected the COVID-19 pandemic to make that title horrifically relevant.
“I still can’t wrap my head around this year,” said Prateek over the phone. “There are a lot of worst-case scenarios you plan for, and yet somehow a global pandemic isn’t one of them.”
“The Band’s All Gone” was released in June, featuring a mix of originals, covers, and playful banter. Next, in October, came the single “All the Stars,” a soulful country ballad that wraps Prateek’s plaintive voice in wisps of steel guitar and close, sweet harmonies.
The Globe reached Prateek at home in Belmont to talk about how he got here and what comes next. “2020 was supposed to be a year where I organized my life a little bit more, and things would make a little bit more sense. And . . . there’s been some of that, and there’s been some of the opposite of that.”
Q. What was your musical plan for the year before COVID shut everything down?
A. “All the Stars” was actually recorded in fall 2019, and I was sitting on it trying to figure out what would be the best time to release it. The music plan for this year: “The Band’s All Gone” and “All the Stars” were definitely going to come out. I was really seriously thinking about going back into the studio and working with the same team that I worked with on “All the Stars” — recording an EP with a band would have been on the books. I was [also] really hoping to go all in with touring more.
Q. Have you run out of recorded material from before COVID?
A. Yeah. Everything that was recorded pre-COVID is out in the world now. I’ve been kind of in writer’s block, but slowly but surely this year I’ve been writing a few songs and figuring out what to do with them. Part of the reason I haven’t dove as deeply into figuring out my next project is I’m concerned about what early next year is going to be like. Part of this whole pandemic has been learning that it’s OK to keep an eye on things other than your own music.
Q. Are you a full-time musician? Do you have another job?
A. I am a full-time musician. It’s actually been 2½ years. Part of what made this time particularly weird, especially when [the pandemic] first hit, everyone from musicians who I’ve known as veterans for a long time to people like me who were just getting started, all of us, regardless of our experience, were caught off guard. On the one hand, it was kind of comforting to think that no amount of experience could have prepared me for this, because none of us saw it coming. On the other hand, it was kind of scary to think it’s like, oh, wow, nothing could have prepared me for this.
For better or worse, I think we’re getting used to this pandemic. It’s nice to have some idea of how to move forward. It would be better if our idea of moving forward was actually quashing [COVID].
Q. And in the meantime, you’re streaming weekly gigs on Patreon, right?
A. Yes. One thing that did work out in 2020 was that I wanted to get more serious about my Patreon page, because I’ve had it for the past couple of years, and it’s pretty much the reason I can do music full time. We call it “Sunday Sweatpants Sessions” because I’ve pretty much only worn sweat pants when I stream. We’re all stuck at home — you might as well be comfortable. It’s a livestream, it’s not quite the same as a live show, but it is a lot of fun. And more than ever, whatever safe connection we can get, we should absolutely take.
Q. So it’s not a dichotomy, but how much do you feel like you’re thriving, and how much do you feel like you’re surviving?
A. Both, at the same time, in so many weird ways. I think in a lot of ways I feel like I’m just surviving, because none of us saw this coming or expected it to last this long. I mean, some people did, but of course we didn’t listen. There are days where I feel like if I just remember to do the dishes, that’s as much of a win as I can take. But on the other hand I’ve been lucky enough that I’ve got a stable living situation and I’ve got people who have been really willing to step up and support my music, especially on Patreon.
I got chosen to do the 617Sessions this year, so that was a dream come true. A good friend of mine posted on Facebook that the last months have been tough, and in these times it can feel disingenuous to have a win, or something to celebrate. But even when all of this is over, those feelings can still last. And because of that, even when things are bad — especially when things are really bad — you’ve got to take the good days when you can.