MusicMakers

Eisley: Rock and Relatives

By Moira E. McLaughlin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 18, 2008

Wholesome, Christian and drug-free are not adjectives most pop-rock bands claim. Who would have watched VH1's "Behind the Music" if they could? Then add to that "gets along really well with family who just happens to be in the band" and you have Eisley.

"We're pretty much as close as you can get," says Stacy DuPree, who at 19 is the youngest member of the band. "My sisters are my best friends, my whole family, really."

Three sisters, one brother and a cousin make up Eisley, which stops at the 9:30 club Monday to support its latest recording, 2007's "Combinations." It follows 2005's "Room Noises," the band's first album with Warner Bros.

With "Combinations," DuPree says, Eisley wanted to make a "classic" recording, free from outside pressure. "There are a lot more trials in the first record," she says. But with "Combinations," "we pretty much had free rein to do what we wanted to do and be what we wanted to be."

Stacy and Sherri DuPree write the songs and sing. Their voices weave in and out, creating a haunting yet pretty sound reminiscent of the Cranberries. (Stacy DuPree plays piano and Sherri DuPree the guitar; sister Chauntelle DuPree also plays guitar, brother Weston Dupree, 21, plays drums and cousin Garron DuPree, 18, is the band's bass player. ) They are not a Christian rock band despite previous courting from record labels specializing in that genre.

Stacy DuPree says she was just 8 years old when she knocked on her big sister's bedroom door, wanting to play with Chauntelle, now 26, and Sherri, now 24. That's play, as in play music. "Sherri and Chauntelle started writing with friends at the time," Dupree says. "I was just always kind of intrigued with what they were doing."

The big sisters wouldn't let her join them right away, but after Chauntelle taught Stacy a few chords on the guitar, she earned her music cred.

"It wasn't like, 'Oh, I want to be a rock star.' " Stacy DuPree says. "[Chauntelle and Sherri] let their guard down. That's all I wanted. I looked up to them so much. I felt like [playing music] was something we should be doing together."

Their childhoods sound idyllic. They grew up in Tyler, Tex., going to church and listening to the Beatles. Their parents ran a local coffee shop and performance space, where they played their first gigs. Their dad, Boyd DuPree, who travels with the band, liked to document his kids' lives on video. At holidays, the family sang together.

Stacy DuPree names Thom Yorke and Radiohead as influences. (She saw Radiohead when she was 11 perched on her father's shoulders.) But first she will name her mom and dad.

So if everything was so hunky-dory, what's with the group's intense lyrics?

For example, "Invasion" from the new album: "Oh, something's not right/I can feel it inside/Something's not right/And you will take the breath from my throat/And you would take the cherished people that I hold."

"You know that's a good question," Stacy DuPree says. "They are a bit dark. We've always been a bit intrigued with fantasy and the mystical." So maybe then, their name, Eisley, makes sense. An old friend came up with it, after Mos Eisley, a city in the "Star Wars" films.

Recently, the band encountered a little drama of its own: Sherri's divorce from Chad Gilbert, a guitarist with the group New Found Glory. The two knew each other briefly before deciding to wed.

"It was a good thing. I'm thankful it all happened," Sherri DuPree says. "It was a negative situation, but it will turn out for the better. It was like a learning experience for me. I've my whole life wanted to get married and be in love. . . . Now I know exactly what I want in somebody. You learn so much about yourself and what you need and don't need, so I'm thankful for the experience now."

For Stacy DuPree, the year of heartaches (Chauntelle was also engaged for a time to a musician) has only made the band and family stronger.

"I think that we have so much more reason to do this," she says. "Everything's been pushed out of the way. It's given us so much more passion, and we're just going at it full force. Any time you go through a great ordeal or you go though something that's really hard, we're the type of people, we'll end [up] stronger. It's helped our band, and it's going to help who we become."

And being on the road is fun, Sherri DuPree says. "We drink coffee and do stupid things and watch movies. That's why it's just like being at home" -- complete with family.

Eisley Appearing Monday with the Myriad, Vedera and the Envy Corps at the 9:30 club, 815 V St. NW. Doors open at 7. Tickets:$15; available at the box office, 703-218-6500 or www.tickets.com. The Download: For a sampling of Eisley's music, check out: From "Combinations":· "Invasion" · "Go Away" · "Many Funerals" From "Room Noises":· "Just Like We Do" · "Telescope Eyes" From the EP "Marvelous Things":· "Marvelous Things" Eisley Appearing Monday with the Myriad, Vedera and the Envy Corps at the 9:30 club, 815 V St. NW. Doors open at 7. Tickets:$15; available at the box office, 703-218-6500 or www.tickets.com. The Download: For a sampling of Eisley's music, check out: From "Combinations":· "Invasion" · "Go Away" · "Many Funerals" From "Room Noises":· "Just Like We Do" · "Telescope Eyes" From the EP "Marvelous Things":· "Marvelous Things"


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