Thursday, May 9, 2013

Interview with Sherri DuPree-Bemis of Eisley

As far as sibling-based bands go, the track record usually yeilds more rivalry then revelry. But for every Oasis outburst and Black Crowes blowout, there's also the charming success stories of bands like Eisley. Comprised of four siblings and a cousin, Eisley has been cranking out rich indie pop/rock since before many of its members could even vote. 3 full-length albums and 10 EPs later, they're back with Currents, their most ambitious and self-stamped project to date. Currents represents a band that has fully taken the reigns of the recording process as Eisley crafted the album on their own in their own studio. 

Eisley's Sherri Dupree-Bemis was nice enough to take some time out and talk to me about Currents, producing the album themselves, their current Kickstarter campaign, and our shared love for the EP format.  
NoiseTrade: You’ve described your new album Currents (May 28, Equal Vision) as the first time you’ve had complete and total control over the recording process. As artists, what does that freedom look like at the beginning stages of recording and did those initial definitions change at all after the album was actually finished?
Sherri Dupree-Bemis: I think, if anything, it was just better than we could have imagined. It was so refreshing to realize that, after doing this for over a decade, we found a group of people (our label – Equal Vision Records) who trusted our artistic vision enough to let us take on the challenge of doing it ourselves. And it was challenging, to be sure!  Luckily all five of us in the band are very like-minded with our tastes/ideas musically, so I think it really unified the sound of the album. I'm not saying we would never work with a producer again because I'm sure we will - there are reasons producers exist. We might not have the big names or brightest musical minds as contributors on this project but we feel that, at this point in the journey, 100% Eisley is what we needed and we're pretty confident that our fans will agree. I know we accomplished what we set out do to with these songs and on this record.

NT: What ended up being some of the prouder moments of the self-recorded/self-produced experience? Any lumps in the learning process? 
Sherri: The proudest moment for me was seeing the drum/bass section (my brother Weston DuPree and cousin Garron) really step up into leadership roles, musically. On past projects, when working with producers, this wasn't always the case because there was so much focus on my sister, Stacy and I, who do most of the songwriting. Producers were less likely to involve the guys and by default, we ended up making a lot of the artistic choices. On this record, there were no real time constraints or pressures. So it really allowed the guys the freedom to step in and flex their creative muscles. We got to pick their brains and I think they really brought these songs to a level. The recording process is a learning process and you always take your lumps along the way, but I'm really proud of our band for working together as a team to overcome the obstacles that arose.     

NT: Much has been written about the familial bonds (four siblings, one cousin) that make up your band. Does this add uniquely difficult layers to the struggles of self-production or does it somehow make them more manageable?  
Sherri: I would say... absolutely more manageable, at least, for us. We're an extremely close-knit family and the benefits far out way the negatives due to that. It's extremely fun. Not to say we never disagree or have our small upsets here and there. But our friendships are so healthy and so important to us that we really work on choosing our battles carefully. We confront issues as they arise… before they turn into anything very serious. 

NT: Due to 4/5ths of the band recently becoming parents, you’re currently running a Kickstarter with a $100,000 goal to help assist with the ambitious touring of Currents. To give a little peek behind the curtain, what new plans do you have for this tour and what all goes into touring with 4 new infants? 
Sherri: The whole idea behind the Kickstarter (if those reading this haven't read our page) is to basically help us tour our new record, visit other countries we haven't been to in years and also enrich the live experience (shows) for fans by increasing production. We're on an indie label (that we absolutely love), but indie labels don't typically have the means to provide tour support or help build your live show production, so we're trying to do that ourselves.  Yes, having four new babies to bring on the road definitely ties into those costs because we can't travel around the country in a van any longer…it's just a fact. Someone said, "So don't bring the babies". I think once you have a baby, you know that leaving them behind for months at a time isn't an option. You want to be a part of every step of their childhood. You can't be in a band and not tour.   The reason we tour is to go out and meet our fan base and thank them for their constant support of loving and buying our music. We always knew we would come to the point of having children in our lives and always knew it would be a challenge, but it's something that's so important to us as a band, and as individuals.   The Kickstarter will simply help us bring our music to our fans. We just want to meet them and be able to look them in the eye and thank them and also be unified in the joy of playing/singing music together with them. That's something we won't ever stop trying to do – come hell or high water.   

NT: The final question is purely self-serving as I love when bands believe in the power of the EP. As a band that has released ten EPs since 2000, what’s your take on the purpose/function of an EP and what role does it serve for you as musicians and songwriters? 
Sherri: I think it's such a fun way to break up the 2+ years that generally lapses between entire albums. Having a smaller-scale, low stress outlet/format for putting music out into the word that, otherwise, might not end up on an LP seems smart to me. It's also just a cool way to be constantly providing music to your fan base and allowing them to grow with you, through those sometimes awkward periods between full-length records. 

1 comment:

  1. The Pinkerton Raid out of NC, currently being offered on Noisetrade, is another talented "sibling" band making it work. Give 'em a listen and maybe an interview (or let me do it...)