Former Nashville star Chris Carmack effortlessly proved that he has some serious singing chops after being known for starring in the high school drama, The O.C. Playing Will Lexington showed that not only could Carmack sing alongside some of the best country singers in Nashville, but he was capable of taking on some seriously tough subject matter. Most likely good training for his current role on ABC's Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Atticus Lincoln. Carmack has always been interested in singing though, releasing his first EP Pieces of You back in 2015.
Starring on Nashville did so much more for Carmack than add a memorable role to his resume. He also met his wife Erin Slaver on the set. Slaver is also a talented singer as well as musician, notable for her classical violin training. Music was part of their relationship from day one, so it was exciting when the couple decided to create their own musical duo -- Life on Eris. A combination of their names, Life on Eris is music completely written and produced by the couple, inspired by their own marriage. They released their debut EP Stonewall in 2020 and are still actively making music while raising their 4-year-old daughter Kai...seriously follow Chris (@realcarmack) and Erin (@erinslaver) on Instagram for some really cute family pics.
The couple recently chatted with Wide Open Country to discuss their latest new song, "The Risk," and discuss everything from Nashville to what it's like making new music together during the coronavirus pandemic.
How did Life on Eris come about?
Erin: We're both musicians and performers. So obviously you know Chris is an actor as well and he was on 'Nashville.' That's where I met him, in the city of Nashville and we were both doing our own separate things -- he released an EP and I've toured with numerous artists but after we were married, we had been songwriting together, for fun and also for other projects. We wrote for the band I played for all the time so we had written a bunch of songs and always had fun and then when we got married we started doing it, writing songs about our personal relationship and as we started accumulating songs we said 'You know, this could be a really interesting project to actually release. Like the psyche of a married couple.' We tried to keep it as real as possible. So we wanted to give people something that captured the truth behind a marriage...the ups and the downs.
What is your process like when writing a song together?
Chris: The process can vary greatly. Because we live together sometimes it's a scheduled 'let's sit down together and write for a couple hours.' Sometimes you know, I'll be making Kai a sandwich and Erin will yell in from the other room 'what do you think of this idea? And sometimes we'll stumble across an idea just in commonplace life, which is fun because there's always the opportunity for something to come up...there's also the opportunity to get into a deeper conversation than you wanted to while you're making a sandwich for your 4-year-old.
Erin: We both care a lot about what we're going to say in this song so it has to be something we both see ourselves singing, identifying with. There's a lot of joyous moments. It's very rewarding and I find satisfying too because this is what I would be doing -- I would be seeking out people to work with or I would be actively looking for another job to play fiddle in a band or somewhere, you know, so I'd be doing it either way. But to get to do it with my husband is -- that's really special to me. It's like [my] number one choice to get to do it as a family.
Read More: 'Nashville' Cast: Where Are They Now?
Was there anything particular that inspired "The Risk?"
Chris: We were very intentional and inspired to write an aspirational and positive song. We've been really in the doldrums of this pandemic and feeling down, even though we're very fortunate to be healthy and I'm working and there's so much that's fortunate but man. It's like Groundhog Day over and over again and it really wears on you. Especially, we're homeschooling a 4-year-old and we're not able to give her the world we were expecting to be able to give to her and it can really wear on you. We really wanted to give something positive and uplifting to our fans to be able to listen to. Because that's the kind of music we're gravitating to right now. So that was a very intentional choice to look for something more aspirational to write about. But we always feel like we need to have a spirit of honesty in our songwriting and so that's what we wrote about -- that trepidatious moment of going all in, of taking a leap of faith. I think that's something we could very organically relate to.
Erin: We also wanted to include, there's the line in the chorus, "The risk factor's high now just being alive." We wanted to include that it feels now, if more than ever, we have realized how time is short, appreciate every moment, and don't hesitate to take the risk when it comes to love because this pandemic has shown us how things can change in a second and...you've got to go all in. The song was written with today's world in mind but the story is very truthful and honest of us when we were first dating.
You met filming the show Nashville which is all about professional musicians. Is there anything you learned on that show that helped prepare you for your own musical career?
Chris: Oh 100% yeah. I think first and foremost, I wasn't the musician that I am now before Nashville because, before Nashville, I wasn't required really as part of my job to do it. It was something I was passionate about and loved doing but there's a big difference between 'you need to learn this song so you can come to set and play it in front of a camera' or 'you want to learn this song so you can maybe sing it at an open mic night one day.' So I'm a better musician. Also, all the time I spent in studios with bands, watching engineers record and place microphones and listening to all the different textures that instruments are putting into an arrangement. And not just with my ears on a radio but watching in the studio, I think, has brought me a long way both as somebody who can arrange and produce music as well as a musician. And songwriting! Heck, 7 years in Nashville writing songs with Nashville songwriters has definitely given me a little bit of a broader technique when it comes to writing songs.
Is there a particular song or musical artist that inspired you and made you fall in love with wanting to pursue music?
Erin: One was listening to Leslie Satcher play at the Blue Bird Cafe. I forget exactly the title...I know Willie Nelson cut it. But that song was just so perfectly written and crafted and I remember just hearing her sing it and my mind was blown.
Chris: When I was growing up my dad introduced me to the blues. He started creating this collection and he started listening to a lot of CDs and I very very quickly fell in love with Buddy Guy. Just the raw power of the sound of his voice and the sound of his guitar. And then I got to see him perform and it was just electric. Figuratively and literally electric you know? Watching him personify this music and bring it to life was I think the inspiration I had to get up on the stage and try to do that as well.