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Interview: Stacy DuPree – King of Eisley

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Indie pop quintet Eisley is set to release their long-awaited third album The Valley on March 1. The album was put on hold for years due to the band’s tumultuous relationship with Warner Bros. Records. Now a part of the Equal Vision Records lineup, the Dupree family (sisters Stacy, Chauntelle and Sherri, brother Weston, and cousin Garron) are free to explore and experiment as they see fit. Stacy and the gang felt a “big, collective sigh of relief now that the whole thing [was] over.” Stacy discusses the The Valley and the band moving forward in 2011.

Much has happened to all of you during the four years between Combinations and The Valley. How does it feel to finally have The Valley released?

It’s a funny thing when you create something with the intent of it being the next step in your life and you’re fully prepared to release it to the winds of time, and then circumstances change, and then you are sitting around, waiting and waiting. You almost start to feel total resentment for the thing you’ve made after a while because it has been holding you back from your ambitions for about a year. We’ve had to be extremely patient.

Eisley (photo by Chris Phelps

You guys are now on Equal Vision Records. It wasn’t a secret of your issues with Warner Bros. Records. Is there anything that you could take away from that experience of being on a major record label? Could you share any advice for fresh bands looking for record deals?

Well, the funny thing about us is we weren’t looking! The major label found us at a time when we were very young and impressionable. We didn’t know anything about the industry at the time. It all happened pretty quickly for us and when I look back I’m thankful we were so young because we learned about ourselves as artists. We learned we didn’t want to have to fit any type of mold. We wanted to be ourselves and we wanted to have full artistic freedom. And you just cannot have that on a major. And now we have that, and we actually talk with the people we work with on a daily basis. It’s such a relief to not have to be guessing if people are doing what they say they are.

On The Valley, within the first few seconds of the opening title track I could tell this would be a different Eisley than I knew from previous albums, yet in some ways it still felt familiar. Was it a conscious effort to maintain that Eisley sound?

We always hope to maintain the true essence of who we are as a band, but you’ve got to move forward and occasionally shift gears and pay attention to what’s really happening inside of you at the moment. And for us it was a fearful, passionate, desperate time in all of our lives, so it was really unavoidable. You can’t just bury you head in the sand; you have to walk through it.

The Valley is definitely more aggressive than earlier Eisley compositions. You described it as “self-empowerment.” Was it difficult to come together to work on the tracks given the source material? Was it ever just too much to deal with?

No. It felt appropriately timed. We were ready to put our hands to work. I never remember feeling worn down during the process, everyday was a new experience and we felt in control for the first time in our career.

On one hand, the band is so accessible through interviews, video posts, blogging, and Twitter. On the other hand, much of your personal lives ends up broadcasted. How do you feel about your private lives being so public? Is there a line that you strive not to cross?

I think I am the most closed as far as my personal life goes. I want to be open artistically in a huge way, but I can’t handle my personal life being open territory for other people to look upon and feel entitled to. I’m just different. I do love our fans however and love how dedicated they are to our music. I always want it to be about that first and foremost.

I was at one of your shows where you had actually performed “Telescope Eyes.” Are there songs from Combinations that you are similarly reluctant to perform live?

Ha yes, some of them just don’t go over live, for whatever reason. I am looking forward to having three albums to draw from live.

You guys tour a lot. How has touring affected your music? Any favorite venues?

Oh, it’s not so much about the venue, in my opinion, unless it were some gorgeous room with chandeliers and amazing architecture. Otherwise, I tend to just focus on the crowd.

You tweeted that hadn’t seen actual pavement until Kansas City. How was traveling through Snowpocalypse? Was it hard to get to a local Starbucks?

It was rough, we got stuck multiple times and should have wrecked more times than I can count.

P.S. I love how everyone’s adding apocalypse to every word lately, cracks me up.

What can we expect from Eisley in 2011?

A lot of touring, we are ready to work hard. Honestly I’ve learned to not expect things to happen in life. Nobody is owed anything, so I just try and enjoy the beautiful parts.

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