Rich Howells

VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton indie rockers Esta Coda reinvent themselves with comical ‘Escape Artist’

VIDEO PREMIERE: Scranton indie rockers Esta Coda reinvent themselves with comical ‘Escape Artist’
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After another long workday, it is tempting to think about trying something new or starting over completely, leaving all your troubles behind in the pursuit of happiness.

Over the past few years, Esta Coda has been letting their imaginations run wild while working on new music, embracing real, complex feelings while still goofing off and having fun. This all comes together in “Escape Artist,” the new single premiering today exclusively on NEPA Scene with a music video that finds the Scranton-based indie rock quartet playing a flying spaceman (vocalist/guitarist Dan Rosler), newspaperman (vocalist/guitarist Jay Preston), scientist (drummer Thomas Twiss), and farmer (bassist Jon Fletcher) who all need a major change in their lives, ultimately deciding to switch professions in a hilarious montage.

“[Jay’s brother] Dan Preston sent us the script and we all thought it was a ridiculous concept that played on the idea of ‘escape’ in a funny and relatable way. Who hasn’t daydreamed about jumping ship from their normal job for something else?” Rosler recalled.

“We had an absolute blast. It was laughter all day long. Jon Fletcher in particular has revealed himself to be quite the humorous improv performer. We were totally riffing, no written dialogue. I thought at one point that it might be funny to include dialogue either as subtitles or on silent film dialogue cards, but I think it’s more entertaining for the audience to make up what they imagine us to be saying for themselves.”

When Rosler was writing the song, however, he had a much different scenario in mind.

“I was stuck in a creative rut for a while. I wasn’t writing any songs that I liked, or thought were good enough to bring to the band, and started having that irrational artistic anxiety that I lost the ability to create. I would try and calm myself down and say, ‘It’s just a slump.’ But then I got into my own head about what length of time constitutes a slump – weeks? Months? When is it no longer a slump and instead just the new reality? But engaging with that fear head-on helped me write the song, as the beginning lyrics are: ‘I wish I knew what was wrong. How long is a slump?’ The rest of the song stems in some form or another from that original anxiety. The chorus, though, feels sort of like this French term ‘l’esprit d’escalier’ or ‘staircase wit,’ where you think of the perfect reply too late. (I’m pretty sure there’s a ‘Seinfeld’ episode where George deals with this too. He keeps coming up with the perfect response to a co-worker making fun of him too late.) It’s obviously something we can all relate to, so I imagine the chorus as my perfect reply to someone calling me out on my shit, but a reply that comes too late. It’s what you wished you had said instead of mumbling under your breath.”

This lyrical and visual contrast has allowed the band to express both sides of themselves in an honest and entertaining way.

“I do like the juxtaposition. To me, it creates a strange new effect that you wouldn’t have only listening to the song – perhaps a slight discomfort watching slapstick-inspired humor while listening to someone open up about what’s eating them alive,” he continued.

“I also think we have a hard time taking ourselves seriously. We are deadly serious about our music and the art we make together, but not so much ourselves. For that reason, I think this allowed us to feel more natural. I’m not saying this is the only type of music video we plan on making from here on out, but it feels appropriate now as it aligns with how we approached these songs, their textures, and their arrangements.”

“Escape Artist” picks up where they started last year with “Happenstance,” their first new music in over four years that was accompanied by its own lighthearted, homemade music video where the band members become tiny action figures on a toy pirate ship floating in a backyard kiddie pool.

“I think we wanted to put as much of our personalities as we could into these songs, so it felt right to try and mirror that sentiment in our approach to the videos. We are goofy people who like to be ridiculous together, so we thought, ‘Why not let that side of us get some representation?'” Rosler explained.

“Dan Preston did [that] video too. He is a creative machine, and I like his off-the-wall humor.”

At the time, Esta Coda was about halfway through the production of their first full-length album after releasing three EPs – “Kindness” in 2014, “Miles Away” in 2015, and “King Bitter” in 2018. Now they are ready to wrap things up and get a new record in the hands of patient local fans.

“It feels surreal to say, but we are finally reaching the end. Nearly everything is tracked, and we have started mixing many of the songs as well. Now it’s a matter of finalizing artwork and considering our release plans. We would really love to press this on vinyl. The cost is just so high, so we’re brainstorming ways we could try and afford that,” Rosler noted.

“The album will be out this year. We are really proud of it. We have plans for another single or two before releasing the full album. I know we have a few ideas for videos too that might go in a slightly different direction than these.”

In the meantime, they’re bound to make more fans this Friday, Feb. 23 during Screaming Infidelities: Emo Night at The Ritz Theater (222 Wyoming Ave., Scranton), playing their original material alongside Layul and Pucker Up before the DJ takes over so the crowd can sing along to their favorite emo hits.

“We’ve been warmly received at these events, and we are grateful to be asked to be part of them. It’s a chance to try and make fans out of people who might not otherwise be aware of the great local scene we have, so it’s even better if we and Pucker Up can function as some type of musical gateway drug to the rest of the scene,” Rosler said.

Next, Esta Coda will be joining Starving Hysterical Naked and Pucker Up on Friday, March 8 at The V-Spot (906 Providence Rd., Scranton) to open up for The Robinsonade, who will be celebrating the release of the first single from their upcoming concept album. By then, more information may be available on a celebration of their own.

“We also have a special show we are in the process of setting up to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of our first EP, ‘Kindness.’ We’ll have more details on that soon.”