Colin Donnell and Brian Usifer, aka The Nineteen Twenty, Detail Recording Their 1st Album During the Pandemic

Living the dream! For 10-plus years, Colin Donnell and Brian Usifer have been friends. However, it wasn’t until February 2020 that they came up with the idea to work together musically.

At the time, Donnell, 37, was backstage at Disney’s Frozen on Broadway, where his wife, Patti Murin, was performing. Usifer, the music director of the show, came into her dressing room and they began chatting.

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“I’d been writing a little bit. It’s something that I’ve always kind of kept in my back pocket and done for myself and Brian had mentioned that that was the original reason he moved to New York — to be a songwriter, to be a producer. That’s where the real seed was planted,” the Chicago Med alum says on the latest episode of the “Watch With Us” podcast.

Colin Donnell and Brian Usifer, The Nineteen Twenty, Detail Recording Their 1st Album During the Pandemic
Colin Donnell and Brian Usifer. Nathan Johnson; Matthew Murphy

Then, on March 27, Donnell shared a video of himself playing an original song via Instagram, and Usifer reached out. “He texted, ‘Hey man. Let’s do this.’ And that kicked it all off,” he says. “I had the bare bones for a bunch of songs, and it sort of evolved from there.”

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The musicians then formed The Nineteen Twenty — the name combines COVID-19 with 2020 — and put together their first album, Chaos and Cocktails, all via zoom, phone calls and text messages.

“I’m really proud of what Colin and I did because I think that it’s a blend of us as people and as musicians in a way that I didn’t expect it to be,” the composer tells Us. “I feel like this sounds like me and comes from me. I sort of listen to it and it doesn’t feel like someone else’s work. It sounds like mine.”

The seven-track album, which is available now for preorder, will be released on Friday, September 25. However, that doesn’t mean the writer partners are done working — they actually never stopped.

“I’m very hopeful that all of these smaller music venues survive what’s going on and when things open up in New York City, Brian and I will be playing out and putting a kickass band together,” Donnell adds. “It would be a total dream.”

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For more on The Nineteen Twenty — and what Donnell has to say about working in TV again down the line — listen to the podcast above. Subscribe to the “Watch With Us” podcast for more exclusive TV news and interviews.

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