Interview with Eisley vocalist/guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis | By Cody Fitzpatrick
Ever since their inception in 1997—when Sherri DuPree-Bemis was just 13 years old—the indie pop band Eisley have always been a family affair. They started as a group of musically inclined siblings writing songs for fun and performing them at small coffee shop shows around their hometown of Tyler, Texas. Before they knew it, they were playing clubs they weren’t even old enough to get into, and not long after that, they were battling major labels who were trying to control everything from the music they made to the clothes they wore.
For any project to survive for 20 years and counting, it must endure some major challenges and changes. The most recent of these for Eisley has been the departure of guitarist Chauntelle DuPree D’Agostino and keyboardist Stacy Dupree-King. Fortunately, Eisley have been able to adapt to and overcome the struggles that come with being part of an ever-evolving collective.
Perhaps the best expression of how Eisley were feeling during this transition is their new song “Defeatist,” which will be featured on their latest album, I’m Only Dreaming, out now via Equal Vision Records.
“My cousin, Garron—he actually wrote the music for it,” vocalist and guitarist Sherri DuPree-Bemis explains. “It’s pretty much about the changes in Eisley and what we went through. For me, it was a struggle, because I lost having my sisters—who were my cowriters and are my best friends. So, it was really the song that enabled me to grapple with the whole situation. It’s about staying with a project because you believe in it and love it so much. I wouldn’t actually say I’m a defeatist, but as an artist and as a creative type, it’s easy to be like, ‘I’m worthless. I can’t do this. I’m not good enough.’ We just have that in our systems. So, for me, it was just pushing through and embracing the whole project kind of fresh and new.”
The main thing that motivates the band to keep reinventing: passion. “I think, without the passion for the music and the project and just loving what we do, there would be no reason to continue,” DuPree-Bemis says. “[Otherwise], I think we would have given up a long time ago. […] You have to do it because you love it and you believe in what you’re doing. And I think we always will. Until that day comes where we’re just over it or stop being in it—which I just never see happening—we’ll just keep going.”
A key component of Eisley’s continuing evolution has been the tweaking of their sound. For some help, they brought in master producer Will Yip. DuPree-Bemis recounts how Eisley got him to work on I’m Only Dreaming: “We got so lucky. My husband, Max [Bemis]—who’s in a band called Say Anything—he loves a lot of Will’s bands and has been playing them for me. Like Balance And Composure and all these bands that I thought sounded so cool and fresh. It was really inspiring to me, and he was like, ‘Why don’t you see if Will wants to work on your project?’”
“And I was like, ‘There’s no way. We don’t sound like a band that he would do,’” she continues, “but it turned out he was actually a really big fan, and he was super excited about it. So, he came down to Tyler—which was really cool, because he has his own studio in Philly—but he came down, mostly because I have two young kids, so it’s really hard for me to go out of my own house to record projects. […] He was able to look at our back catalog and put a fresh face on it all. […] That guy knows what he’s doing. I wanna work with him again. He pushed me so hard as a vocalist that I wanted to strangle him, but I had more fun than I ever have recording a project.”
On Feb. 16, Eisley will embark on their first headline tour following the debut of their new lineup and music. One distinguishing feature of this nationwide trek is that it’ll include special acoustic shows and Q&A sessions. DuPree-Bemis is particularly excited, because—now that she has kids and can’t really go out anymore—these events will be her best opportunity to meet with fans in a more intimate environment. She’s certainly come a long way from being too young to be in the venue.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
Mar 02 South Burlington, VT @ Higher Ground
Mar 03 Ithaca, NY @ The Haunt
Mar 04 Buffalo, NY @ Waiting Room – Studio
Mar 05 Pittsburgh, PA @ The Club at Stage AE
Mar 06 Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry at The Fillmore
Mar 08 Columbus, OH @ The Basement
Mar 09 Cleveland, OH @ Grog Shop
Mar 10 Detroit, MI @ Shelter
Mar 11 Chicago, IL @ Subterranean
Mar 12 Minneapolis, MN @ 7th St Entry
Mar 13 Indianapolis, IN @ The HiFi
Mar 20 Denver, CO @ Lost Lake Lounge
Mar 22 Portland, OR @ Star Theater
Mar 23 Seattle, WA @ Chop Suey
Mar 25 San Francisco, CA @ Bottom of the Hill
Mar 27 Los Angeles, CA @ Troubadour
Mar 28 San Diego, CA @ House of Blues – Voodoo Room
Mar 29 Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues – The Parish
Mar 30 Phoenix, AZ @ Valley Bar