By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
It's pretty much the same inside, where the Christmas tree dominates the living room, an oversized photo from It's a Wonderful Life hovers above the mantel and the stockings still hang by the chimney with care. Downstairs, it's like a Norman Rockwell painting, and as if to drive the point home, there are even some framed Rockwell paintings on the walls. It could be the living room of any other family in Tyler, down to the collection of Southern Living cookbooks neatly shelved in the kitchen. There are no clues otherwise, save for the acoustic guitar leaning against one wall of the parents' bedroom and a copy of Donald S. Passman's All You Need to Know About the Music Business lying around.
For a home that usually sleeps nine (including the DuPrees' youngest children, 12-year-old Christie and 8-year-old Collin, as well as Chauntelle's 2-year-old daughter Caitlin), it's strangely quiet. "This is the first time in 10 years I've been at the house by myself for a week," Boyd says. "It's never happened. And stranger stuff is gonna happen."
He's seen plenty of strange things since his kids became a band. The oddest might have been the first. Chauntelle and Sherri were starting to write songs, along with one of their friends. They would close themselves off, working on their music. And Stacy was desperate to join in, to be a part of what her sisters were doing.
"She'd come crying to us, literally, you know?" Boyd remembers. "We tried to explain to her, you know, Chauntelle's older and one day you'll understand. And she just wouldn't have it. She was very determined. She's very driven. So she started doing it herself, in her bedroom."
Stacy was inexperienced; after all, she was only 8. "I mean, I knew a few chords," she says. "I knew, like, G." She laughs, and so does everyone else. "I know, it's lame. But as soon as someone taught me a few chords, I just wrote a song."
She brought it to her sisters a couple of weeks later. They didn't try to keep her away anymore.
"When we heard it, it was amazing," Chauntelle says, "so we started writing together. And it sort of just slowly progressed that way. It wasn't like we decided to become a band or anything."
Since Boyd and Kim homeschool their kids, it left more than enough time for that slow progression to occur. By the time the DuPrees opened a coffeehouse in Tyler, BrewTones Coffee Galaxy, they were a band: The Towheads. This was around 1998, and by then, Stacy had switched to piano and keyboards, joining guitarists Sherri and Chauntelle and Weston on drums.
The DuPrees ran BrewTones Coffee Galaxy out of the church they belonged to, The Vineyard Church, on weekends. The Vineyard Church is national and nondenominational, based around the Bible, music and, more often than not, coffee. Located in a strip mall, the atmosphere is casual and comfortable, and BrewTones fit right into all of that. But, as Boyd says, it wasn't an excuse to preach to people.
"We were interested in building an indie scene in town," he says. "And though it was through the church, it wasn't really a church thing at all. I mean, it's a strip center. It was kind of something to get kids off the street. But it was not your basic Baptist youth group. It was totally punk and spikes, and everything from hardcore kids to straightedge kids. Every kind of music."
Pretty soon, the blossoming band took its hard work to other clubs, including The Door in Deep Ellum. Boyd and Kim had built a relationship with The Door, booking some of the acts that played there into BrewTones, sending some of the groups from Tyler west to Dallas. They still weren't used to being a band, but they were trying.
"When they first played here as The Towheads," says Russell Hobbs, owner of The Door, "they were doing a sound check, and the little cutest one, Stacy, was up there, and she was like, 'Can I get a little more monitor in my monitor?' They didn't quite have the terminology down yet. And that was just so cute. I'll never forget that."
But they aren't accustomed to the other things that come with being a band yet. They aren't used to talking about themselves or their music in interviews; Chauntelle does most of the talking; even then the most she'll say is a few sentences. They look uncomfortable when posing for pictures.
"That's kind of a scary thing," Chauntelle admits. "I don't know, it's different when you're onstage, playing an instrument, when we're all together. But, like, to do an interview, that's scary."