Eisley–these sisters are doing it for themselves

Andrew Hampp

Eisley is (from left) Chauntelle Dupree, Staci Dupree, Jon Wilson, Sherri Dupree and Weston Dupree.

Credit: Andrew popik

Sherri Dupree had a revelation.

The 21-year-old co-lead singer for Eisley — a band comprised of Dupree’s sisters Staci, 16, and Chauntelle, 23, brother Weston, 18, and childhood neighbor Jon Wilson, 22 — was explaining “I Wasn’t Prepared,” a song from her band’s excellent debut full-length CD Room Noises.

Although the song’s lyrics about bees swarming around a lover’s face in strange yellow patterns made the melancholy track seem like it was about a tragic bee-stinging incident, Dupree insisted it was just about missing her loved ones on the road.

“That song was written around the time we got signed,” the middle Dupree sister said in a phone interview conducted Tuesday. “(We were) going out, touring and being away from boyfriends and family and stuff like that. It’s kinda just a song about not knowing how to handle all that, just missing loved ones and learning how to deal with stuff like that.”

It was then suggested to Dupree that having three of your five siblings and your childhood neighbor constantly on the road with you can’t be all that bad for homesickness, which is when the revelation began.

“Oh,” said Dupree with a gasp and a giggle. “I never really thought about how much worse it would be if it wasn’t my brothers and sisters! We’d miss each other like crazy if we weren’t together. I mean, we’re all best friends. It definitely makes it easy for us, having each other on the road.”

Dupree admitted that although life in a band with her siblings is pretty much all she’s ever known, having started up Eisley at age 13 in her family’s tiny hometown of Tyler, Texas. Over the past years, Sherri and her siblings have cultivated a dreamy pop/rock sound that’s equal parts Star Wars (the band takes its name from Mos Eisley) and Radiohead, whose OK Computer blew big sis Chauntelle away in 1997.

“I think for all of us, Radiohead was one of the first bands that really got us into creating our own different type of music. We grew up listening to music and listening to so much country and jazz, which was good for harmonies and getting into singing. But Radiohead was one of the first bands when we were getting out of that country phase. I was like, ‘Holy crap, what is this?’”

A strong background in the best alternative music has to offer has led to ideal touring pairings with the likes of Snow Patrol and Brand New, but Eisley’s current tour with New Found Glory has been by far the most unique, Dupree said.

“This tour has been the weirdest. We’re playing for a group of kids that’s definitely not there to see us. It’s been mostly good, though, it hasn’t been too bad. I was pretty skeptical that these kids wouldn’t be into us at all. But they like our music, so it’s really weird meeting kids that wouldn’t normally get to hear us.”

The second weirdest Eisley tour honors go to Coldplay’s Rush of Blood to the Head tour in 2002. Dupree said opening for the “Yellow” band on the tour that cemented their status as one of the biggest bands in the world was extremely daunting and “weird,” particularly since it was Eisley’s very first time out on the road.

“That tour was just insane,” Dupree said. “We didn’t know what we were doing there. I mean it was a really good opportunity and it’s great that that happened, but we’re not even ready to play those places right now.”

So would headlining a Madison Square Garden gig on her own terms be something Dupree and her bandmates aspire for?

“I wouldn’t really say it’s a goal,” Sherri said. “It should be really awesome to get to a place where we could play those places. Just playing these clubs that we’re doing right now, these places are so fun and it’s kids that love our music. So I wouldn’t say it’s a goal, but it’d be nice.”

Contact Pop Arts editor Andrew Hampp at [email protected].