Please don’t make me cry

Eisley, quite possibly the most wholesome band on Earth, isn’t afraid of your tears

Eisley—all in the family.

Eisley—all in the family.

Eisley may have recently finished a tour sponsored by Yahoo! Music and Saturn, but if the band’s representatives are smart, they’ll set up a cross-promotion with Kleenex. If you spot Eisley’s debut CD, Room Noises, on a friend’s CD rack, just ask, “Which song makes you cry?” Chances are at least one of the melodic, otherworldly tracks makes her chest tighten and her eyes tear and has her reaching for the nearest tissue. The songs, with their rich harmonies and softly cushioning rhythms, are simply that beautiful.

“That’s been the case ever since we put out our first EP,” confessed Chauntelle DuPree, the band’s guitarist, during a telephone interview from her bedroom in Tyler, Texas. “People send letters and say, ‘This song really made me cry. It broke something in me.’” She described mail from people in hospitals, people with broken bones, people going through depression—all playing Eisley’s music over and over while trying to heal.

Chauntelle, age 23, was at a loss to explain how the lyric-driven pop songs she and her siblings—Sherri, 21; Weston, 18; and Stacy, 16—have been writing since her teenage days could touch people so deeply. “Strangely, they even affect me that way,” she admitted. “There are so many shows where I’m singing along, and I’ll start to cry, and I’m like, ‘Crap! I’ve got to get a hold of myself!’ It’s really weird.”

Even weirder, since the DuPree family life is a happy one. The bandmates live with their parents and younger siblings, Christie and Collin, in the family’s rural Texas home. “My mom has always sung,” Chauntelle said. “She leads worship at our church, and my dad plays the drums there.” Her father, Boyd DuPree, urged her to take up guitar at 15. Sherri followed suit, and the two reluctantly admitted Stacy (then 8 years old) into their band when she started writing better songs than her sisters.

Later, the DuPrees opened BrewTones, a coffeehouse and music venue inside the church, where the siblings got a taste of touring life. “We’d cook for the bands, set up the stage, and my brother would do sound,” Chauntelle remembered. “We were always around, getting the whole ‘band experience.’”

Eisley cut its musical teeth at BrewTones, before braving the clubs of Dallas. “It was a big change for us,” Chauntelle said. “We were all underage, but they didn’t mind because our parents were always with us.”

Years later, not much has changed on that front. Boyd is the band’s tour manager, graphic artist, Web-site manager and principal blogger. “He handles so much!” Chauntelle enthused. “It’s awesome because he knows us so well that he’s able to do a really good job at it.”

Happy family life, gorgeous songwriting talent, rising mainstream success—is there any downside to the Eisley story? Well, the band recently lost its longtime bassist, Jonathan Wilson. “We loved him, so it was really sad when he decided to leave,” Chauntelle said. “He wanted to do other things with his life, do mission work and go to school, I think.” Luckily, the bandmates were able to convince their 16-year-old cousin Garron DuPree to fill in. “It’s like having another sibling in the band,” Chauntelle said excitedly. “It worked out really great.”

Of course, if it keeps adding younger members, Eisley won’t be club-legal anytime soon. But that’s only a problem in the winter. Eisley canceled what would have been its Sacramento debut last year when Stacy got pneumonia. The band attributes Stacy’s illness to long waits in the van with Weston, in freezing weather, whenever the band played 21-and-over venues. “She got a cold, and it just got worse and worse,” Chauntelle remembered. “So, we’re going to try not to play 21-and-up shows, as much as we can.”

Eisley will make a second attempt at a Sacramento appearance this Tuesday at the Empire Events Center. The weather’s still warm, but if you see three teenagers huddling in a van near 15th and R streets on your way to the show, buy them a cup of cocoa. And don’t forget your tissue.