by Dan Sweeney
“What we really want is for people to be able to, after a bad day, go home, put on our album, and feel like ‘OK, I’m pumped, I’m back in the game.’”
– Corey Rexroad of TheEscapePlan
Lofty goals for any band, but not beyond what the four-piece outfit TheEscapePlan feels is possible. This pop-punk style group is made up of lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Isaac Sharp, lead guitarist Corey Rexroad, bass guitarist Nathaniel Friend, and drummer Ben Dickey.
All natives of West Virginia, and all current students at different colleges and universities, TheEscapePlan performed live in the Gluck Theatre Monday, January 31st, with a tight, calculated set – an impressive feat for a line-up that has been playing together for less than a year.
With catchy hooks reminiscent of Fountains of Wayne, a “big-guitar-sound” akin to My Chemical Romance and vocal performances in the style of The Fray, the band’s style is admittedly pop-punk influenced. Artists they try to emulate include both The Fray and Switchfoot, as well as John Mayer and The Cab.
Look no further than the track “Mr. Scientist” for evidence of the early and mid-00’s pop-punk influence. The fuzz-box vocals are reminiscent of The Killers’ track “Leave the Bourbon on the Shelf,” and the message of “something more to life” hearkens back to their love of Switchfoot, a band with self-professed Christian influences that doesn’t want to be categorized as Christian rock.
“And that’s what we try to emulate,” says Sharp.
“No matter what, your beliefs sneak into your writing, and we try to embrace that without forcing the issue,” says Sharp.
“We put it out there and hope people make the connection and search for more.”
Their first show was, appropriately, at a church in Grafton, WV, where they opened up for another local pop-rock group, The Hide and Seek Effect of Morgantown.
“We were really impressed by them,” admits Rexroad.
“They’ve been playing together for three or four years, I think, and their sound was so polished and practiced, and they’ve been playing some of their stuff for just as long. And it showed.”
The feeling was mutual, at least enough for the members of The Hide and Seek Effect to start helping them out with bookings. Last August, TheEscapePlan played an event in Clarksburg called “Jesus Fest.”
“We got to play on the same stage as Aaron Gillespie,” beams Sharp.
Gillespie is known internationally for his drumming career with the Christian metalcore band Underoath, as well as playing the role of front man of his new band The Almost. Together, these are two of the most commercially successful crossover acts from the Christian music scene to the mainstream.
Since August, TheEscapePlan have played shows while going to school during the week and have opened for The Hide and Seek Effect and another West Virginia band, The Amorous. They are currently in the planning stages of a local tour, heading as far away as Maryland, Kentucky, and Ohio.
TheEscapePlan’s first EP, Hope On The Horizon, is due out Summer 2012.