Mark Twain famously advised, “Write what you know.” Blinded Passenger, a four-piece alternative rock band based in Scranton, has done just that on “The Electric,” its upcoming full-length album.
“We wanted to paint a picture of Scranton with the album,” singer Patrick McGlynn says. “So we did all the recording on our own to get a more gritty sound.”
While “The Electric” won’t be released until Dec. 5, you can get a sneak peak by listening to album track “Shadows Of America,” which makes its exclusive debut today via Highway 81 Revisited.
The theme behind “The Electric” came from a classic artist – The Boss.
“I actually heard a Bruce Springsteen song, ‘Death To My Hometown,’” McGlynn recalls. “I thought, ‘This guy is singing about Scranton,’ and I was thinking, ‘He’s like a millionaire singing about a situation that a lot of people are going through.’ I wanted to take it and make it a little more real.”
Blinded Passenger will celebrate the release of “The Electric” with a First Friday event on Dec. 5 at The Keys in Scranton. The night will feature music by Blinded Passenger, A Social State and Esta Coda, as well as artwork by A Social State drummer, whose brother Stefan plays guitar in Blinded Passenger.
“He actually is an established illustrator for a company out of Savannah, Ga., and he put a lot of time working on our album artwork, which we are kind of keeping on the down-low,” says Stefan Ogonosky, referring to his brother. “We’ll premiere (the album art), it will be a joint thing where he’s going to showcase most of his for First Friday until 9, and then the bands are going to start. So it’s kind of cool; not only are we going to be showcasing some of the great music in this area, but also some pretty cool artwork.”
In one fashion or another, some of the Blinded Passenger members have been playing together for about 15 years. It began as more of a folky-sounding side project started by McGlynn with Stefan and bassist Kevin Stone while they were playing in Losing Caufield. Since then, the band’s sound has shifted significantly, which you can hear in “Shadows Of America.”
“If anything, the best description would be that we started out more like folk, Americana, almost an alternative Americana indie, like a Conor Oberst, and now we sound more like a Foo Fighters-ish kind of sound,” Ogonosky explains. “The sound is evolving in that direction but while still keeping true to the lyrics.” McGlynn adds that Blinded Passenger’s music would fit nicely on a bill with bands like Weezer or The Killers.
While Blinded Passenger’s sound has changed, so has the music scene it calls home. Bands that endeavor to play live, especially at all-ages shows, have found their options severely limited following the recent closing of The Vintage Theater in Scranton, a few other venues that popped up and disappeared, and the two closings that hit the NEPA scene the hardest a few years ago: Café Metropolis in Wilkes-Barre and Test Pattern in Scranton.
“It’s tough nowadays, I think,” Ogonosky says. “I feel for a lot of the newer bands. There’s not many outlets to get your music heard, and (venues) are dropping like flies, especially around Scranton. It’s tough now, I’d say more cutthroat to try to get people’s attention or even to try to find a spot to play.”
Several bands that played the NEPA all-ages scene have gone on to national and even international success, like The Menzingers, Title Fight and Tigers Jaw. That success has not gone unnoticed by Blinded Passenger.
“It’s nice to see some people getting some recognition,” McGlynn says. “We played around with The Menzingers back in the day.”
Ogonosky concurs, but his and Blinded Passenger’s working class roots can’t help but show. “I think as a musician for 15 years,” he adds, “there’s a point where you look at it and you’re happy for that person, but you have to keep your head down and keep moving.”