For a small few, album sales are king. For the rest of us, the greenbacks come from being road dogs—touring 250+ days a year, hoping to find the right label. Eisley, like many artists, had to learn this first-hand.
Officially signed to Reprise Records—a subsidiary of Warner Bros.—in 2004, the Tyler, TX-natives Eisley consisted of several members of the DuPree family. They began creating a buzz with authentic lyrics and warm live performances from their debut album, Room Noises. During that time, the youthful DuPrees opened up for acts like Coldplay, Brand New and Taking Back Sunday. By 2007, Eisley had released the more Americana-driven, Combinations. But with the album’s delayed release and struggles over creative freedom, the five-piece decided to leave the major label scene in early 2010. They have never looked back.
“I don’t think you need a major label to be a successful band these days,” explains frontwoman Sherri Dupree-Bemis. “I’m not bitter against major labels, they’re doing what they know. … But getting off the major label was the greatest thing to ever happen to us.” Once Sherri and company parted ways with Warner’s subsidiary, the band began to shop the indie label scene. The team that stood out most was Albany, NY’s Equal Vision Records.
“We [found] a cool indie label that supported us and let us have complete artistic control for the first time in our lives,” explains Sherri. “They take care of press, distribution, promotion and day-to-day annoying stuff that you need people’s help with. [You need a label who] knows you, understands you, loves your music and knows what your focus is and your goals are.” Hooking up with Paradigm Talent Agency to handle booking, Eisley were now ready to begin a career in the indie game.
Eisley Discussing why they choose DIY (Circa 2009)
Following the release of The Valley in 2011, Eisley’s third full-length and first with Equal Vision, Sherri and her husband—Max Bemis of Say Anything—decided to seek more economical ways to survive the struggling music industry. With a not-so-successful Eisley Kickstarter campaign, and most of the DuPree family’s artist support coming from touring as opposed to record sales, members of Eisley and Say Anything decided to cut recording costs.
“We built a studio in mine and my husband’s garage last year,” Sherri explains. “We’re saving money just by having space. We had to put money into building it but it’s [already] paid off just by not bringing gear places to record and rehearse, hourly rates, etcetera.”
With the new studio, Eisley have tracked the Deep Space EP as well as their recent release, Currents. With the help of hired engineer, Mark Schwartzkopf, the band now enjoy creative freedom in the studio, in a much more relaxed environment. With that new artistic freedom, Sherri even took the time to draw the cover art for Currents, an album you can purchase directly from their site, buy on tour or hear on streaming media platforms.
Unlike many artists in the scene today, Eisley don’t seem to be bothered by streaming services. “Things like Spotify are great,” proclaims Sherri. “Pandora streamed our record for a week before it came out and it got people talking about it and probably boosted the record sales. … It has helped us reach a broader fan base. I know it does suck for record sales, but that’s almost a losing battle no matter what. Selling records is so hard these days and there’s so much access to free or streamed music.”
For nearly 10 years, Eisley have managed to bring warm and cozy feelings to the harsh reality that is the music industry. Maintaining a commitment to family, and remaining localized in Texas, many members of the band (including Sherri) now have children, who are joining the band on the current Say Anything Rarities and More 2013 tour.
Contact Natalie Bisignano, Equal Vision Records, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Andy Mesecher