Local Noise: Blue Panel

Childhood friends Matt Amling, Nick Malishchak and Eli Raymond spent much of their high school years playing together. But, as is often the case, after graduation they all headed their separate ways. Nick hooked up with Andrew McCloskey in 2009 and together they recorded an album. After the CD was finished, they realized they had something too good to let sit. After it received such a strong positive response, they knew they had to take action to go further with it, so Nick called his former compadres and got them involved, and soon Blue Panel was formed.

With Nick on lead vocals and lead guitar, Matt on rhythm guitar and vocals, Andrew on bass and vocals and Eli on drums and vocals, they started to hit area venues around their New Jersey hometown of Madison, and eventually throughout the Tri-State area.

Musically they were able to meld a combination of old school blues-rock with modern alternative. “Most of the writing is done by Nick,” says Andrew. “Usually Nick will come up with a riff on guitar, and try to develop a general feeling or emotion that the song will be based around. He then starts the lyrics, trying to convey the emotion while also using standard song conventions, rhyme scheme, etc. Sometimes Nick shows me what he’s working on and then the two of us collaborate to write the lyrics. Once we have the song parts basically mapped out we show the other band members, and the band discusses and lays down the other parts, the rhythm guitar and drums and background vocals.”

You can tell from the sound they generate that both classic and new rock influences permeate. Artists such as the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix mix with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, the Foo Fighters and The White Stripes form the basis for their musical backgrounds, as well as musicians like Chuck Berry, Stevie Ray Vaughn, John Bonham, Keith Moon, Jaco Pastorius, Paul McCartney and Sting.

Standout tracks include “Embers,” “Everything to Lose,” “On the Run” and “Back Alley Brawl.” One song in particular expresses their feeling toward the state of the modern music scene. “‘On the Run’ is a song that deals with the aspect of oversaturation in the music industry,” Andrew explains. “The lyrics convey our emotions toward the general quality of music today, and express our desire to bring back the heart and spirit of the old school blues back to the mainstream.”

The name of the band would suggest some type of a deep meaning, or at least elicit some hidden gem of an explanation or interesting story, but in reality it came from a piece of art exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. During their high school days, a field trip led to them discovering the piece, which was essentially just a blue panel. Andrew suggested it as a joke and, as is often the case, it ended up sticking.

The immediate future includes more area shows, as well as possibly expanding their reach. “It’s tough when school is in session, since we’re all at different colleges, but we still try to book as many shows as we can for when we’re all on break,” states Andrew. “Right now we have a show planned for May 31 at Arlene’s Grocery in NYC, and we are currently participating in the Vans Warped Tour Battle of the Bands with the hopes of getting a set at Warped Tour this year. We plan to play all around the Tri-State area, as well as other states in the Northeast this summer, so be sure to keep your eye out!”

The group hopes to spread the gospel of musical quality over fabricated pop. “Our goals are to spread the love for good music in a time when it can be hard to find,” Andrew relates. “We want to reach as many ears as possible, and have the experience of a touring band. We hope to one day be able to sustain ourselves and make a living playing music.”

Blue Panel has already experienced some of the traditions of touring bands, with performances to packed house as well as crowds you can count on one hand. Judging from their rapid rise thus far, it appears it won’t be long before they are experience much more of the road.

You can find Blue Panel on the Internet at facebook.com/bluepanel or reverbnation.com/bluepanel. You can also find their latest release, The Feedback EP, on iTunes.