Had the Dupree parents known that giving their oldest children instruments would lead to the creation of the band Eisley and the following success, they may have gifted the children sooner. Eisley, a rising star in the music industry, began as two sisters playing with a guitar and writing lyrics. Two more siblings and a cousin later, the group found itself touring around the world, accompanying such headliners as New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, The Fray, and Coldplay.
Eisley began when sisters Chauntelle and Sherri Dupree started writing lyrics with friends. Younger sister Stacy, then eight years old, heard the music and asked to join. Time and time again, she was told no, but she persisted. After a friend of the family attempted suicide, Stacy wrote a song and made Chauntelle listen. Recognizing her talent, Stacy was soon a part of the band. When Weston, the oldest boy, began playing drums, he, too, became a member of the band. Friend Amy Whittaker played bass. The group became official in 1997 as The Towheads.
At the same time, parents Boyd and Kim opened a coffeehouse called BrewTones Coffee Galaxy in their small town of Tyler, Texas. They invited bands to play, and The Towheads were the house band. The Dupree siblings had other coffeehouse duties, too. The bands that played at the BrewTones Coffee Galaxy began asking The Towheads to join them on the road.
As The Towheads experienced life on the road, they also endured another commonality among bands: revolving members. Though the siblings were a mainstay, Whittaker soon left and others were invited. Jonathan Wilson joined The Towheads in 2001 and stayed for four years. When he departed, he was replaced by Garron Dupree, a cousin. In this formation the group would achieve great success.
Signed Record Deal
In 2000 The Towheads became Moss Eisley after the Moss Eisley Cantina in the film Star Wars. The group branched out to clubs and bars in the Dallas area, despite the fact that none of the members were old enough to drink. As their popularity increased, Moss Eisley began touring across the country, with the siblings' dad as their manager. They were also heavily recruited by record companies.
Moss Eisley's music had elements of folk and pop, but the style was still indescribable. The siblings lived in a house of music. Mother Kim played a little guitar and was a singer. Father Boyd played the guitar and taught the oldest, Chauntelle, some beginning chords. Sherri, one of the songwriters and singers, also played the keyboard. With Stacy also writing the songs and being the lead vocalist, the songs, while catchy, were about the things the two sisters experienced or enjoyed. The music had an indie sound that has grown in popularity in the last two decades.
Eisley's family background is one of a loving and caring family. All the children were homeschooled and all were Christians. Because of this, the group was courted by several Christian music labels. But the band wanted to avoid those labels. Chauntelle told Doug Van Pelt of HM magazine, "We never really wanted to be in the Christian music industry. … Since we weren't writing songs for the church, it really wouldn't have made sense. No disrespect to Christian artists, but, to us, Christian music is music for Christians." Moss Eisley felt that Warner Brothers/Reprise label would best represent them. After signing, however, the record company lawyers felt the group would have trouble keeping the name and the band settled on Eisley.
With its new label, Eisley began performing at larger venues and various music festivals, including Coachella. Despite having an indie feel, the band would open for a broad range of acts and played in front of audiences that were usually not warm to their sound. Emo and punk bands, however, would invite them to open and the audiences were won over. Word soon spread, and Eisley's music came into the hands of Coldplay's frontman, Chris Martin. He invited the Dupree family to be the opening act on Coldplay's tour.
Eisley had a few songs and EPs released, but finally entered the studio and recorded their debut CD, Room Noises. The band toured to promote their latest release. Again their music could not be easily defined and cowriter Sherri admitted to Sarah Mauet of the Arizona Daily Star, that "reading fairy tales and fictional literature inspired a lot of the band's early lyrics."
Eisley continued to tour as opening acts for bands such as New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, and The Fray. They took time off to record their second CD, Combinations. Sherri described the difference between their two releases to Elizabeth Raftery of Blast magazine, "The first album, we were so young, so we didn't have a lot of life experiences to draw from. … [The] new album, we had, you know, been in relationships and just toured a lot. … The new album, we had a lot of time off and we just wrote like 30 songs and got to kind-of hand-pick the ones that we thought were the best kind of representation of where we are now and where we were then."
Eisley's second release met with positive reviews. The band toured to promote Combinations, including venues as far reaching as Australia. Despite their growing success, Eisley continued to write the songs that best characterized them without any pressure from their label to release songs that would be more popular with the masses. Eisley continued to be a band of family members who enjoyed performing together. Sherri told Jamie Pham of the Absolute Punk Web site, "I hope people perceive us as very normal, down to earth people who don't take themselves too seriously. It's never been a goal to be rock stars. The goal has always been being song-crafters." In a time where catchy tunes about nothing dominate the airwaves, Eisley is a welcome reprieve for those who want more substance in their music.
For the Record …
Members include Chauntelle Dupree , (born circa 1981, cofounder), guitar; Garron Dupree , (born circa 1989), bass; Sherri Dupree , (born circa 1983, cofounder), songwriter, vocals; Stacy Dupree , (born circa 1988) songwriter, lead vocals; Weston Dupree , (born circa 1986) drummer; Amy Whitaker (left band, 1999), bass; Jonathan Wilson (band member 2001-05), bass.
Sisters Chauntelle, guitarist, and Sherri Dupree, keyboardist, began writing lyrics with friends, circa 1997; sister Stacy, lead vocalist, also began writing lyrics and soon joined the band, circa 1997; brother Weston, drummer, joined band, circa 1997; Amy Whittaker, bass player, joined circa 1997, left band, circa 1999; Jonathan Wilson, bass player, joined band in 2000, left band in 2005; cousin Garron Dupree joined in 2001. Began as The Towheads, circa 1997; changed name to Moss Eisley, circa 2000, then settled on Eisley, circa 2000. Released several singles and EPs before releasing first album, Room Noises, 2004; released Combinations, 2007.
Addresses: Record company—Warner Bros. Records Inc., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA. 91505. Web site—Eisley Official Web site: http://www.eisley.com.
Room Noises, Warner Bros. Records/Reprise, 2004.
Combinations, Warner Bros. Records/Reprise, 2007.
Arizona Daily Star, (Tucson, AZ) April 27, 2006.
Entertainment Weekly, February 8, 2005; August 14, 2007.
Market Wire, February 2005.
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"Austinist Show Preview + Interview: Eisley @ Antone's," Austinist, http://austinist.com/2008/04/02/austinist_show_152.php (June 20, 2008).
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"Eisley Biography," Yahoo Music, http://music.yahoo.com/ar-302625-bio-Eisley (June 20, 2008).
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—Ashyia N. Henderson
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