By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
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The worst investments of the band's resources? Touring. With the exception of the Coldplay tour, Eisley was placed on the road with bands whose music and fans were a poor match.
The worst investment of all, though? The money spent on Room Noises.
"We could've made the same record for $100,000," Wilson says. "It ended up being close to five or six. It was an indication to me that business was not being handled by competent, sensible people."
Within 20 months, the signing bonus was gone. And so was Wilson. The pressure was too much for him, but his reason for leaving had little to do with money or conflicts with the members of the band. It was the result, he says, of an "existential journey" that Wilson had taken. He had returned to his Messianic Jewish background—a Christian faith that carries on in the Jewish tradition—and he felt like the band was conflicting with the Biblical commandment to keep the Sabbath holy.
"We were obviously touring and playing shows every weekend, and that hit me deep within," Wilson says. "I think [the DuPrees] felt like I was looking down on them, but that was never the case. I always wanted to continue relationships with everyone in the band, but all of those relationships basically dwindled."
Despite not having kept in touch with the remaining members of Eisley, Wilson still has high hopes for them.
"I'm glad that they are now in a place where they're more independent," he says. "Maybe that will help them get back to that place where they once were."
The cell phone static that exists between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Boise, Idaho, is overwhelming—so much so that it's almost pointless to carry on a conversation. But even the fuzz that cuts in and out while DuPree-King speaks can't muffle her excitement about Eisley's next chapter.
Over the last two years, she says, the band has sorted out both its business and personal troubles. DuPree-D'Agostino is now happily married to LaRose Guitars luthier Todd D'Agostino, and DuPree-Bemis has married Say Anything singer Max Bemis. More important, the band is back on the road, on their last tour before the March 2011 release of their third record, tentatively titled The Valley.
And, Dupree-King says, if there's one thing that's clear from these shows, it's that Eisley need to release more material.
"We haven't toured in a long time, and we haven't put out a record in three years, so the songs that we're playing are kind of dated at this point," DuPree-King says. "I would love to not just be playing these bars every night. I would love to build back up to playing nice venues."
But in order to get there, the band knows they need a fresh start—the beginning of which, they say, is their newly inked record deal with Equal Vision Records. Despite the somewhat odd fit, the band members believe that Equal Vision Records is the right place for them—even if they admit to being nervous about again signing with a label this second time around.
"I thought whenever we got off of Warner Bros. that we wouldn't be putting ourselves into this position again," DuPree-Bemis says. "When EVR came and approached us, they came down to Tyler to hang out with us, which is amazing. And that was different."
It's different, Dupree-Bemis says, because their relationship with Warner Bros. was all business, and rarely personal. The DuPrees have always preferred it the other way around: Their Tyler home is a revolving door of friends and family, most of whom are entertained by the DuPrees until well past the early hours of the morning. To have their business managers do business in their home spoke louder than any signing bonus they could have been offered.
"Our new label, from what I've observed, will be an enormous dose of painkiller to the constant headache we've been through for the last six years," says DuPree-King.
But even with feelings of relief, Eisley members say they're well aware that there's a long road ahead. One of the first steps on that road is to return to their roots in Dallas; the band will play The Loft on Saturday night, as the final tour date before The Valley is released in March. Given their upbringing in Dallas venues, it's a fitting end to this chapter of Eisley's career.
And the band couldn't be happier about it.
"We're at the end of a tunnel," DuPree-Bemis says. "The whole next phase of our career is starting now."