The ‘Kindness’ of friends

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First Posted: 4/8/2014

Esta Coda may have been formed by members of several bands, but it assuredly isn’t a side project or hobby.
In fact, the Scranton-based four-piece is strengthened by their years of experience in the local music scene, a pool of creative talent that brought two initially different ideas together in the first place.
After the breakup of Fake Estate, vocalist/guitarist Jay Preston and drummer Patrick King began working on new music together with famed Philadelphia producer Will Yip, who Preston credits with shaping their initial sound at Studio 4 in Conshohocken.
“Fake Estate had a relationship going with this indie label called Either/Or Records and Will recorded a lot of those bands, so we were going to him to get our stuff mixed and mastered, stuff we had already recorded, and he just liked us from the get-go and asked if we just wanted to start over. He said, ‘You guys can write better songs. I see a little bit of potential in you, so let’s start writing together,’ and he helped us out with writing a lot. I still work with him now on a lot of his projects because I do engineering at a studio, so I talk to him all the time and I work on stuff for him now,” Preston explained.
“I don’t think we’d be writing the songs we do now without… him.”
Vocalist/guitarist Dan Rosler of A Fire With Friends and bassist Jon Fletcher of A Social State were working on music of their own when Preston contacted Rosler to ask if they wanted to jam together and see where it went.
“I was real nervous; it was like asking a girl out. I was like, ‘You guys just want to, like, maybe see how these two projects would go together?’” Preston recalled with a laugh. “I remember I was texting him – ‘How do I word this?’”
“That practice made me love music again. I felt like I was 15 when I first felt like playing in a band. It felt good,” Rosler affirmed.
“After knowing each other for so long to kind of just end up in a band together was easy to do. I played with Jon and Pat; it was fun to jam but we were never in bands together. Then I met Jay, and he’s one of the best musicians I know and ever met.”
“I don’t think we were looking for another songwriter per se; we were just looking for another guitarist, and then when we were jamming with Dan we saw that he was available and obviously we jumped on that,” Fletcher said.
They soon realized they were all on the same musical page, so with the help of “fifth member” Bill Trently, Esta Coda was born. With no big egos and honest, collaborative songwriting, they crafted “very melody-driven” pop-infused rock music unlike anything they had done before. Simplicity became key to the songwriting process.
“I think everything with this band is, ‘Let’s see if we could just get away with just the basics,’” Fletcher explained.
“Which is a good thing,” Preston noted. “If you don’t have the basics, you don’t have anything.”
“It still has its ambiguity to it,” Fletcher continued. “I think the whole band tries to relate to a broad spectrum of people – not only the lyrics and everything, but just simple ideas that we try to get across.”
“Everyone’s really working to make the song good, which is great because that’s what the focus should be,” Rosler added.
In addition to Yip’s influence, Mike Watts of VuDu Studios and Joe Loftus of JL Studios helped refine the five tunes on the band’s new EP, “Kindness,” which will be released on Saturday, April 12 at a show at The Vintage in Scranton with Blinded Passenger and Roof Doctor.
“I just thought that would be a great way to start an EP and call it ‘Kindness’ because one of the first lyrics is, I think, pretty strong. It’s, ‘My kindness leaves me penniless,’” Preston said. “I love it, and I’ve got good responses from the name of it.”
“I love anything that is effective with one word,” Rosler emphasized. “The songs I write for this band are way more autobiographical, I think. Actual life experiences influenced them.”
“Henny Penny” is one exception, adapting the originally grim story of Chicken Little.
“I think I never really realized how dark and abrupt the ending of that story was until I was older, and maybe that’s what stuck with me because as a kid; they kind of water everything down for you. Even though they’re trying to get across the same concept to you, if you go back and read the originals of a lot of those stories, I can see why they water stuff down,” Preston pointed out.
No emotions are watered down on this debut record, however, with songs like “Fireworks,” inspired by watching the fireworks at Nay Aug Park in Scranton with friends, addressing the distance between Rosler and those he cares about.
While every member is only in their mid-20s, their vision for the future is clear.
“It’s what I want to do someday, so I have to work as hard at it as I can now. I feel like I’m lucky enough to have two bands with three awesome songwriters; a lot of other people don’t have that,” Fletcher enthused.
“I’m just grateful to find such a cool group of friends. In that whole (local music) community, everyone is trying to push for the same thing. All these bands developing together is an awesome thing,” Preston said. “I think our main goal is to write and record songs that we’re proud of and hope that other people like them.”
“If you’re not getting the success,” Fletcher concluded, “at least you have your own self-gratification that you’re writing songs that you could pop on a mix with all of your favorite bands’ songs and kind of have them hold up in their own way.”