Eisley is an indie band from Tyler, Texas, made up of Elle Puckett (guitars), Jedidiah Lachmann (keys), cousins Garron DuPree (bass) and Remington DuPree (drums) and sisters Sherri DuPree-Bemis (vocals, guitars) and Christie DuPree (vocals). Since their formation in 1997, the band has survived lineup and label changes, major tours, divorces and kids. They’ve stayed true to their original sound but somehow manage to always resonate with modern day listeners. They are currently preparing to put out their fifth LP and recently released a new single, “Defeatist.”
We caught up with lead singer and guitarist, Sherri, while on tour to get her thoughts on the band’s evolution, upcoming release and current tour across the U.S.
So, you’re currently on tour. How has that been?
So well! We’re only on our fifth show as of tonight [in Denver] but the shows have been so exciting and the crowds have been so energetic and engaged. We’re playing two songs from our new album [out next year] and I forgot how fun it is to play new songs! I also have my two toddlers on tour with me [ages 3.5 and 1.5] so there’s quite literally never a dull moment.
Your family is all very musical, is that something that was a big part of your childhood?
From as early on as I can remember, my family was singing together. We had a very Southern family upbringing where we would take walks in the woods and sit on our front porch singing folk songs. My parents were always picking out harmonies and teaching us how to sing them. I definitely attribute a great deal of my love of music to those moments in my childhood. And of course as we got older, they got us into great bands like The Beatles and Pink Floyd.
How has having your sister’s band Merriment opening for you on tour been?
I feel very spoiled! Getting to tour with family is such a unique experience and I feel super honored that it’s a part of my life. Even though she’s seven years younger than me, I look up to her as a songwriter and a vocalist. She’s so effortlessly talented and has a great ear for melodies. I have things I can learn from her, so getting to see her grow as a musician and songwriter while touring with my own band is exciting. I have no doubt she will far surpass anything my band has done one day.
Your other two sisters, Stacy and Chantelle, are no longer in the band. How did that come about?
It actually happened so naturally and was something that slowly progressed over time as we all grew as individuals and people, as wives and mothers and our goals and dreams shifted. Our bond is so deep as a family, that even though it was an emotional shift, it didn’t affect our relationships. It even brought us closer! We were all children when we started Eisley, so I think it was always a bit unrealistic that we would all have the same goal throughout our adulthood as our lives changed. It was a romantic time, but the future is just as painfully beautiful to me.
I have to confess, I’ve followed you on Instagram for about a year now and have fallen in love with your two children, Coraline and Lucy. What’s it like touring with them?
Oh my gosh, don’t even get me started on my kids. I’m a classic case of mom-obsessed. If you follow my Instagram, you know. I mean, they’re my little buddies! They drive me totally bats every day, to be sure. But they’re hilarious and quite literally ridiculously cute. I just look at them all day going, “Wait, HOW is your face that cute? It’s so cute it’s scaring me.” They love adventuring though, and I think it’s pretty rad that I get to travel with them. Obviously traveling in a moving RV with children is challenging as hell…but it’s vital, and it makes me a better person. Always having to revisit my patience skills and improve upon them every day (laughs). They give me life! I hope they grow up remembering their childhood fondly. I think seeing both your parents strive for the things they love can only have a positive influence on them.
Is it difficult for you and your husband [Say Anything frontman Max Bemis] to both be touring so often?
Yes! (Laughs) But not too difficult or we wouldn’t be doing it. Luckily we are on the same label and have the same management so we have this amazing team of people who always are willing to work with us to make our touring schedules align to me as convenient as possible for us as a family. I think the other aspect that makes it so doable to us, is that we both have such a strong passion for our music and the things we want to accomplish in our lives and luckily they all meld into this beautiful train that keeps moving forward on the same path. It is hard, but life is hard in general. It’s all about your perspective. We both realize we’re so blessed to have people who want to listen to our music and help facilitate our dreams, so we work hard to make it happen because it’s what we want and love! And we both support each other. I’m my husband’s biggest fan and vice versa.
What was it like opening for Coldplay and The Fray?
It’s all such a blur now! Those tours seem like ages ago and I guess, in reality, they were. After you have a kid or two, it’s hard to remember what life was before they came along. I remember when we got the call that we were going to be opening for Coldplay my sisters and I all ran into our bedroom [that we shared] and jumped on the bed. I mean…we were kids! (Laughs) But honestly, if you told me right now that I was going to open for one of my favorite bands on a massive tour I’d probably still run to the nearest bed and jump on it…That’s another thing having kids will do to you. In some ways to makes you more of an adult and in a lot of ways it returns you to your inner child (laughs)! The Fray, too…that was massively fun. Those guys were just the kindest.
Who are some of your current influences?
So one of my new favorite bands Balance And Composure has their new record out soon. It’s called Light We Made and the chap, Will Yip, who we just tracked our newest LP with, did their album. So definitely check out that band. Would love to tour with them! Honestly since having my girls, I listen to whatever they want to hear…which has consisted of a TON of Sia (laughs). Her vocals are incredible, so it’s actually awesome practice. I love her songwriting. That song she co-wrote with Adele is ridiculous too. My girls also want a lot of Adele…again, massively good vocal practice for me. You’ll never find me saying no to a good pop song.
How do you feel your music has evolved over the last nearly 20 years, through lineup and label changes, marriages, divorces and children?
Honestly I don’t feel like my music has changed that much. Certainly it’s evolved and we’ve grown as people and has musicians and songwriters, but the main goal of Eisley hasn’t changed and that’s just to write honest and beautiful music that we love and stand behind. It has to come from my heart, from my gut, or you won’t ever hear the song. So just know that if you’re hearing an Eisley song that we fully believe in it and it’s the truest thing we could create in that moment of our lives. We always have growing to do, but I’m excited about where it’s headed.
What has been your favorite tour to date?
My favorite tour most recently was our run with Copeland. It was the first tour we did after all the inner changes with the band happened so it was a very self-empowering tour for me personally. Just the fact that we were still moving forward after some of my siblings moved on to other things. It was really something I had to prove to myself, I think. And it was such an amazing tour and so much fun. I learned a lot about myself and overcame a lot of insecurities as an artist in the past year and that tour was one of the stepping stools. Plus we’re all massive Copeland fans, and love those dudes to death!
Any new music in the works?
I mentioned briefly, but yes! We just finished our fifth LP! We worked with Will Yip on it and I literally have never had so much fun doing an album. Garron [my bassist/songwriting teammate], Will and I worked so hard making sure each song was unique and played an important part in completing the album. I’m so proud of it! It will be out early next year but we have a single out this week “Defeatist”.
Anything you’d like to leave us with?
Thanks for having me! I’m honored that anyone wants to read what I have to say. I hope everyone loves the new song out this week and keeps an eye out for the new album! We worked so hard on it and I’m so excited to share the songs. Gotta run to soundcheck now!
Eisley will play at Union Transfer in Philadelphia on Sept. 30, Webster Hall in New York City on Oct. 1, and The Wonder Bar in Asbury Park on Oct. 3. For more information, go to eisley.com.