• Eisley – Interview at Bumbershoot

    By Myles Crawley
    Photos by Alana Crawley

    Recently, while we were at Bumbershoot Music Festival in Seattle, I sat down with Eisley before their show. The band is made up of three sisters, Stacy (keyboards, vocals), Sherri (guitar, vocals) and Chauntelle (lead guitar), along with one brother, Weston (drums) and a cousin, Garron (bass). Their last name is Dupree and they hail from Tyler, Texas. Their story is remarkable. After an intense bidding war, they were signed to Warner Bros/Reprise Records when Stacy was still only 13 years old. Straight out of the gate they were put on a major tour opening up for Coldplay. Now at 22, Stacy is really coming into her own. As a matter of fact, the entire band is extremely impressive. Their live show is fast paced, their songs are very well written and their sound and lighting are carefully crafted. And this audience at Bumbershoot loved them. I must admit that I did too, especially sitting, chatting before hand. They are an open, friendly bunch and made me feel very welcome. Here are some excerpts from that conversation.

    MC: “The first question, I suppose, would probably be the most obvious: What’s the experience like working together as a family?
    ALL: “Awesome!”
    MC: “Do you think it’s made easier by the fact that you’re all related?”
    Stacy: “I think it’s definitely easier.  People would think it would not be like that, but I think it’s because we are all similar in the way that we think and work.  Sometimes that can be a bad thing, it can be a crippling thing, and other times, we’re all together and don’t have to think about anything too much.”
    Sherri:  “We really have the same goals and aspirations as a group, as a family, and as a band, so it really helps us work the music.”
    MC:  “So you started out as ‘The Towheads,’ is that right?  Where did that name come from?”
    Sherri:  “It means ‘blonde.’”
    Stacy:  “We all had white hair as kids.”
    MC:  “You’ve obviously dyed your hair since then.” [To Chauntelle, who’s hair is now black]  “And you!” [To Sherri, who’s hair is now pink and purple}
    Sherri:  “No, this is my natural color!” I just started drinking a lot of Kool-Aid…”
    MC:  “So what was your craziest show experience?  I mean, you’ve been doing this for quite a while now.  What’s the craziest or weirdest that it’s ever gotten?”
    Sherri:  “One of the craziest things we ever had to deal with was…”
    Garron:  “Boxers.”
    Sherri:  “Oh, Stacy had some man-panties thrown at her.”
    Stacy:  “I had some man-panties thrown at me, and multiple beers.  I don’t know, they target me a little more than anyone else.”
    Sherri:  “I think it’s because you’re in the middle and in the front of it all.”
    Stacy:  “Yeah that was crazy…”
    Garron:  “Also, money.  Yeah, in Australia we had money thrown at us, which we found out was actually a good thing.”
    MC:  “Yeah, I can imagine it would be!”
    Garron:  “But it would be those big coins!”
    MC:  “Oh, I got it.  They would hurt!”
    MC:  “So Stacy, I read that you wrote your first song when you were eight years old, right?”
    Stacy:  “Yeah, I did.”
    MC:  “And you did that to kind of shock your sisters into giving you a shot?”
    Stacy:  “I guess so, yeah.  They were kind of doing their own musical thing.”
    Sherri:  “Nothing serious though.”
    Stacy:  “Yeah, nothing serious.  They had a friend there, which I think made me pretty jealous because, you know, she wasn’t a sister, and you know, who’s this girl coming in here?  So yeah, I wrote a song one day.”
    MC:  “Do you remember the title of it?”
    Stacy:  “Yeah, it was called ‘Michael’s Song.’  It was about one of our friends.  It was actually kind of depressing.”
    Sherri:  “Well, she was eight years old and the song was about this guy, a friend of the family, who got really depressed, tried to commit suicide…”
    Stacy:  “He tried to jump off a building
    Sherri:  “And he was on drugs, and that really affected her little eight year old mind.”
    Stacy:  “I don’t know why someone told me about that!”
    Sherri:  “You were too little!”
    Stacy:  “It was really disturbing because you know, as a kid, you like certain people, and I really liked this guy, so to hear that was like, ‘Wait, what?’”
    MC:  “Devastating.  Do you remember how it goes?”
    Stacy:  “Well, the lyrics were pretty…good…”
    Sherri:  “You could probably remember it if you sat down with a guitar.”
    Stacy:  “I think the first lyrics were like, ‘Sitting on my bed, biting my fingernails…”  Very introspective!  That was the opening line, and then, I don’t know, something about wanting to be in the light, and then…I don’t know.”
    MC:  “So you changed your name from ‘The Towheads’ to ‘Mos Eisley,’  and then you dropped the ‘Mos’ and just kept the ‘Eisley.’  Which one of you is the Star Wars fan?”
    Sherri:  “We kind of all were.  I mean, it wasn’t that we were obsessed with Star Wars, but we grew up watching the films, and they were a big part of our childhood.  Our parents loved them, so they were always on.  I think it was just something we really loved, and we thought the name sounded cool, but of course, it was copyrighted by George Lucas.”
    Weston:  “There was another band with Warner Bros/Reprise that had a Star Wars name, and George Lukas was going after them, so Warners was like, ‘You guys need to cut something out of your name.’ So we just dropped the Mos.”
    MC:  “Are you guys still with Reprise?”
    Sherri:  “Not any more. Now were on Equal Vision Records.”
    MC:  “Reprise was Joni Mitchell’s first record company.”
    Sherri:  “I didn’t know that!  We love Joni Mitchell.”
    MC:  “Yeah, I love Joni Mitchell, too.  So what were your musical influences growing up?  Who did you guys listen to, and what made you want to become what you are today?”
    Stacy:  “I don’t know if we ever really listened to a band and said, ‘Oh, we want to be a band.’  It just sort of happened, but we always listened to what our parents had in the house, like The Beatles or Pink Floyd.”
    Sherri:  “We got pretty obsessed with The Beatles growing up.  I think that was really the main band that we were really like ‘Wow!’ about.”
    Stacy:  “We had all of their vinyl records and our parents would play them, and we would talk about them, you know?”
    Sherri:  “The melodies and the harmonies were just so…”
    Stacy:  “We’ve learned so much from them.”
    MC:  “Which albums do you think?  Was it later albums or earlier albums?”
    Sherri:  “Abbey Road was the first one I really latched onto.”
    Stacy:  “We took maybe an album each year, and I remember them introducing another new one, and it was just this whole new world.”
    Sherri:  “There was definitely a Rubber Soul year, an Abbey Road year, a White Album year…”
    Garron:  “You can’t forget The Judds though.  We listened to them very heavily.”
    MC:  “What was it like growing up in Tyler, Texas?  All of you are from Tyler, right?”
    Garron:  “Mostly. Most of us were born in the Houston area, and then they moved to Tyler pretty early on and we stayed.”
    MC:  “So is there an actual music scene in Tyler?”
    Chauntelle:  “A little one.”
    Garron:  “There are loads and loads of scene kids, but there’s not like a live music scene.  There are tons of small shows, like kids playing hardcore shows or whatever, but there’s not like a really nice live music scene.  There are not really a lot of venues where bands from out of town come in and play.”
    MC:  “You guys have a pretty distinctive sound.  How did that come about?  I mean, if you didn’t have contemporaries around you, where did that influence come from?  It didn’t come from The Beatles, I don’t think.”
    Stacy:  “No, we were also into this band called Portishead, which is kind of melancholy, I think.”
    Sherri:  “Also, we did listen to The Cranberries when we were little.  I think we just got into the kind of moody music, and somehow we related to that, even though we are very happy people.”
    Weston:  “I think we were just kind of born into a musical habit.  I mean, our parents just had instruments lying around, and our dad is a drummer.
    Sherri & Stacy:  “And mom sings.”
    Weston:  “And we always had guitars and stuff.”
    Sherri:  “Garron’s dad is an insane guitar player.”
    MC:  “So you grew up in a musical household.”
    Weston:  “Yeah.  When we were bored, we’d just go pick up an instrument and just kind of mess around with it.”
    Stacy:  “Our parents ran a coffee house/venue at our church, so we would have bands come in every weekend, and so we kind of got to see all kinds of bands.”
    Sherri:  “Then we started opening up for them.”
    MC:  “You know, I think that’s really important to have that kind of musical education, and there are no better people to teach you than your parents.  And sometimes just putting you in that type of environment can make all the difference in the world.”
    Chauntelle:  “Yeah, and they never pushed us or anything.”
    Sherri:  “I think that they were always just like ‘Do What You Love’ kind of parents.”
    MC:  “That’s great!  That’s the kind of reinforcement that you would hope for.”
    Sherri:  “Our dad still manages us, and he used to be our tour manager, as well, but it was too much of being away from home and Mom, so now he just manages us from home, but he’s still very involved with all of our stuff.”
    MC:  “So, this is recording number six that’s out right now?”
    Sherri:  “Yeah, The Valley is our sixth recording out.  It’s actually our third record, but we’ve also put out three EPs.”
    MC:  “That’s a pretty sizable body of work, and you guys are all really young!  Either that, or you look really young!”
    Garron:  “There’s actually even more EPs before those official ones.”
    Sherri:  “And we just did another one that’s going to come out this winter.”
    MC:  “Is there somebody that does the majority of the writing, or do you all write together?
    Stacy:  “Me and Sherri.”
    Sherri:  “We say that Stacey and I write the majority of the songs, but it’s very much a band effort as far as how the song ends up sounding in the end.”
    Garron:  “But the song, you know, the melody and the structure, they do it.”
    MC:  “So your new album, The Valley, was it recorded in a traditional studio setting?”
    Stacy:  “Yes. We did it at a studio in Tyler.”
    MC:  “Was it self-produced, or did someone produce it for you?”
    Stacy:  “We mostly self-produced it.  We had an engineer and then the guy who runs the studio is actually really capable, so he would help record and stuff.  Just having his advice was a good thing for us, but we mostly did it ourselves.”
    MC:  “So how does a band like you, as young as you were, get signed so early and so young?  That must have been particularly extraordinary.  How old were you all at the time?”
    Stacy:  “I was thirteen or fourteen.  During the Coldplay tour, I was fourteen.”
    Chauntelle:  “I was probably around eighteen.”
    Weston:  “Yeah, I was like sixteen then.”
    Sherri:  “I think I was fifteen, or something around there.”
    MC:  “That’s really young.”
    Sherri:  “Yeah, it was a pretty monumental experience.”
    Stacy:  “We didn’t really know what was going on entirely, you know, when we signed up for it.”
    Sherri:  “When we started, you know, we loved playing music, and everyone was telling us, ‘Well, to do this, you have to get signed and do this, and that.’  So we were like, ‘Okay, well, let’s do that.’  So we started getting showcases and we showcased for all the labels.”
    MC:  “Was this in Houston?”
    Weston:  “No, a lot of the labels flew us out.  We did a couple in New York, and then a bunch in L.A.”
    Chauntelle:  “It was a really exciting time.”
    MC:  “I bet it was.  Where are you off to from here?”
    Garron:  “Nevada somewhere.  It’s sort of a B-market tour for us.  We toured a few months ago and hit most of the main markets, so we didn’t really want to over-saturate those again, so we’re kind of hitting some of the ones that we missed.”
    MC:  “So what’s next for you guys then?”
    Sherri:  “We’ll probably have to write for the next record soon, and we have the EP coming out in November, probably, which will feature a couple new songs, and we’ll have a new video coming out.  But you know, we’ll probably do some writing and tour again in the spring, and get back out there!”

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