NEPA Scene Staff

Scranton indie rock band Esta Coda grapples with ‘King Bitter’ on new EP with Will Yip

Scranton indie rock band Esta Coda grapples with ‘King Bitter’ on new EP with Will Yip
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From a press release:

Hailing from Northeastern Pennsylvania’s DIY scene that birthed The Menzingers, Tigers Jaw, and Title Fight, indie rockers Esta Coda have joined their crew with a high-caliber EP.

“King Bitter” was recorded at the legendary Studio 4 in Conshohocken with Grammy-nominated producer Will Yip (Code Orange, Quicksand, Circa Survive, The Bouncing Souls) and was released on Dec. 7 via Memory Music, an indie label that has backed albums by Tigers Jaw, The Starting Line, and more regional acts.

“‘King Bitter’ is that shitty voice in your head that you want to reject and pretend isn’t part of you,” vocalist/guitarist Dan Rosler explained.

“The one who gets jealous, envious, nihilistic, full of self-doubt – a sort of personification of those negative attributes. And yet the crown gets passed around because sometimes you’re seeing those qualities in other people which, of course, makes you wonder if it’s your own projection onto the world and whether or not that projection itself has an effect on your surroundings. I think the bizarre phenomenon of aging sort of heightens this.”

Brooklyn Vegan recently unveiled the track “Breathe” and called it “punk grit and a driving backbone, but it’s really more of a sweet-sounding, melodic alternative rock song – the kind you could imagine hearing on the radio in 1996.” Substream Magazine raved about the title track, saying it “walks the line of punk and alternative rock masterfully.”

From misunderstanding depression (“Breathe”) to not being happy with how we’ve changed as people or decisions we’ve made (“Something New”) to cynicism growing in proportion with age and falling victim to nostalgia (“King Bitter”) to dwindling confidence as we experience setbacks in life (“On My Own”), the four tracks share authentic and genuine experiences to help others feel understood for the length of a song.

It happened organically. Vocalist/guitarist Jay Preston and drummer Pat King’s band, Fake Estate, ended, leaving behind unfinished songs they’d started with Yip at Studio 4, where Preston was assisting Yip on recordings. Around the same time, Rosler and bassist Jon Fletcher were working on different songs from their other musical projects. Preston suggested that they all get together to play in late 2012. In their short amount of time as a Scranton-based band, Esta Coda proceeded to independently release two EPs (“Kindness” in 2014 and “Miles Away” in 2015); play locally and out of state; open for The Sidekicks, The Menzingers, and Tigers Jaw; and win Steamtown Music Awards.

Between the first and second recording session for “King Bitter,” Rosler’s mother passed away from cancer, an event that colored his songs’ lyrics, shaping some of the short album’s themes of struggling to hold on to hope in a world that could easily turn one bitter, despondent, and lonely while also grappling with the loss of youthful and innocent days long gone. Similarly, Preston’s songs examine the feeling of an unrecognizable sense of self, one that has changed from the youthful reflections of years past and struggling with pangs of anxiety.

“It seems like, despite some progress, we’re still struggling as a society to have the proper conversations about mental illness, which has been culturally stigmatized for awhile now,” Rosler noted.

“And I wrote the line ‘It’s not an S.O.S. that I take a few SSRIs’ [in “Breathe”] because I don’t want to feel embarrassed about doing so, and I suspect others might feel that way. I’m not the first to say this, but I think an illustrative example is, if someone breaks their ankle, they seek medical attention. Why is mental pain perceived differently? And part of the frustration with depression is that, sometimes, you feel depressed without reason – it’s distinctly different from sadness in that respect. And I think that’s difficult for someone who doesn’t deal with it to understand, that depression can linger, floating around, following you like a balloon that’s untethered to any central point or reason without a singular, unifiable, cause.”

This EP, which features Thomas Twiss on drums, represents an evolution from the band’s earlier sound while also maintaining the organic unity the group had since its inception, reborn and revitalized with the help of a famed producer/engineer and his label.

Photo by Keith Perks/1120 Creative