I had the opportunity to interview Sherri DuPree-Bemis from the band Eisley. We chatted about how she has developed as an artist, her family life on the road, and took a deeper dive into their upcoming acoustic record, I’m Only Dreaming…Of Days Long Past, available everywhere on July 20th via Equal Vision Records.
Thank you for the opportunity to interview you today. Tell me a little bit about what you and the group have been working on since the release of 2017’s I’m Only Dreaming?
The acoustic record is the biggest thing we’ve worked on since then but I’m about to start writing for the next album… just for fun. We won’t be recording this year, but hopefully in 2019! I’m so excited.
Sherri, you have become a vocal leader in music for not only female artists, but in this scene in general. What have you learned about your evolution as not an artist, but also as a role model for other aspiring artists?
My husband (Max) is always telling me I’m a role model and I shoo him off. It’s humbling to think that people look up to me just for being myself and following my passions.
I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned about myself is that I can never stop doing music. There was a time when Eisley went through a bunch of changes and members left to pursue their families and other dreams and I was really concerned about the prospect of losing what I had helped build since I was 14… forever. I was devastated.
But I soon realized there was no way I was going to let it go. I learned that no one can take music away from me but myself. That was a pretty cool revelation I guess. I decided that if I wanted to do it, I would just DO IT – circumstances be damned.
I understand you have three children with Max Bemis (from Say Anything). How have you been able to juggle being a parent as well as fitting in time to devote to your music?
It’s funny you ask… just today we hired our first personal family assistant to help us juggle all of it! She’s amazing! But for the past 5 years we’ve worked really hard and been 100% committed to making both of the bands work while always making the family the priority. It’s the driving force in all of our decisions and choices.
Also, you just have to ask for help! Don’t be afraid. People are always willing to hold a baby while you work on a song, or respect the fact that you need to do an interview at midnight because you have a newborn baby. It helps that my dad manages both of our bands.
Also, the fact that we’re both in bands has only ever been a blessing. We work out our touring schedules so we can travel together because, honestly, that’s key. If we couldn’t be together, we wouldn’t do this.
How would you describe your approach to songwriting? How has this evolved over your career?
It honestly hasn’t evolved much since I started writing at age fourteen. I’ve always just picked up a guitar or sat down at a piano… would just start messing around. The first thing I usually do is to sing a bunch of nonsense until I hone in on a melody I love and the lyrics are typically inspired by how the melody makes me feel.
When we go into the writing cycle for the next album, I plan on trying some new approaches. I’m hoping that will shake things up in a good way. I always want to push myself and not just play it safe by defaulting to my same old tricks. I have a really hard time writing in front of people and I’d love to get past that.
I also believe I heard that Eisley and Say Anything plan on doing many more tours together. What have you learned about each of your fan-bases and how would you describe each?
Definitely! Fans have been so supportive of our relationship and how we have both, somewhat, incorporated our own thing into each other’s music. I guess that’s bound to happen when your biggest musical crush is your husband or your wife. We seriously have the best, and most loving fans. I know everyone says that, but ours are really something special. They love our whole family, not just the music that we create.
How have the kids enjoyed being on tour with their rockstar Mom and Dad? What memories do you and Max hope they will remember and cherish over the years?
They LOVE it. They eat it up like candy. It’s really a family dynamic on the bus, whether it’s a Say Anything tour or an Eisley tour. We go find parks or children’s museums in every city… plus let them run around the venue, watch the shows. Touring has really helped us nurture amazing social skills in the kids as well as helped them with self-confidence. We love that they get to watch their parents working super hard, following their dreams and expressing themselves creatively every night. I can only imagine and dream about what they’ll accomplish in their own lives.
Let’s transition now to your new acoustic album, due out on July 20th via Equal Vision Records, entitled I’m Only Dreaming Of… Days Long Past. What was it like work with a great producer such as Will Yip and how did he push you creatively?
Will is my hero. I’ve never worked with anyone that pushed me as hard as he did – both as a songwriter, and as a vocalist! Also, we’ve gained a lifelong friend in the process. But yeah, seriously, he would nearly drive me to tears trying to get the least flawed, best vocal takes. But that’s why he’s the best; he sees the highest potential in people and pushes them until they let it out. It’s my favorite Eisley album to date and so much of that has to do with his amazing production/engineering skills.
Why did you pick this particular album (2017’s, I’m Only Dreaming), or moment in your career to record a full acoustic album?
I think it was just fresh on our minds and we felt inspired to reinvent it. Garron was the mastermind it. He had so many brilliant ideas and knew how to see them to fruition.
The first single, “A Song for the Birds” is beautifully composed and sung. Can you tell me a little bit more about this song in particular and what it means to you?
It’s a love song to my husband in one sense. On the original track on ‘I’m Only Dreaming,’ he helped pen some of the lyrics and sang the second verse as well. But I was also writing it as a love letter – a thank you to our fans for always being there, for always singing with us and letting us into their lives. They inspire me so much.
Do you intend to tour in support of this acoustic album, and what can fans expect when they come to see these songs? Do you have any other song arrangements planned for other songs in your back catalog?
We don’t have any tours planned for this particular album, but definitely – yes, more tours are in the future. Always! I had our first son in February so we decided to put 2018 touring on the back burner. But we always plan on doing new and fun stuff and incorporating old fan favorites in new ways!
Last question for you, Sherri. What has been your greatest professional accomplishment at this point in your career, and what do you see in the future for yourself and your music?
Honestly, I feel like one of my greatest accomplishments is our ‘I’m Only Dreaming’ record. It was the most self-empowering experiences of my musical life. I had TONS of self-doubt. After we went through all of the band changes, I honestly felt like, “how can I ever write an album without my sisters and brother!? I’m not good enough. I can’t do this…”
But with Garron and Will’s help, we made my favorite album to date. I could NOT have done it without them, and really everyone around me encouraging me (including my family). I learned a lot about myself through that process; I pushed really hard and learned what I was capable of accomplishing as an artist.
I don’t think I ever really believed in myself until I finally sat down and listened to the entire, completed album. That was huge for me. I hope I’ll have even more confidence and passion on the next album!
Thanks for your time, and we look forward to hearing what’s in store for Eisley in 2019!