Interview: We talk Risks, Rewards & Relationships with Chris Carmack & Erin Slaver of Life on Eris. Listen to their New Song ‘The Risk’ too!
Husband-wife duo Life On Eris, comprised of Chris Carmack and Erin Slaver, are jumping headfirst into “The Risk,” available now at all streaming platforms and digital retailers. Reminiscing on the sweet moments of their first dates mixed with all the second-guessing of a new relationship, Carmack and Slaver pulled inspiration from their own love story’s soundtrack for their charming independent release. Head over heels while exploring their then-hometown of Nashville, TN, they fell for each other over writers’ rounds and a mutual passion for Pop-Country music. We were thrilled to grab ten minutes of their time to talk all about it.
We are really thrilled to speak to you. Thanks ever so much for giving us your time today.
Erin: Of course, thank you. We appreciate all of the support we’ve received on social media and everything from Lyric Magazine.
Our first question, after hearing your new song, ‘The Risk’, is did you take a step back into that kind of acoustic country vibe, and away from the ‘Stonewall’ EP sort of ephemeral, ‘Civil Wars’ esque sound deliberately? Or is it just how the song evolved?
Chris: I think it just was more natural, really than anything, it wasn’t so much deliberate as much as I play acoustic and electric guitar and Erin plays violin and mandolin!
Erin: We’ve spent 10 years of our life living in Nashville and touring. Chris has toured with the Nashville cast, I’ve toured with several different artists and it’s like, I mean, that Country sound is in us, you know?
Chris: It was a lot of fun on the ‘Stonewall’ EP, you know, playing with the Moog synthesizer and finding sounds and then saying, ‘now play something cool on this, you know? It was a fun exploration of sounds and moods but it also took a long time. With our latest songs, like ‘Lovely, Dark and Deep’ and then ‘The Risk’, we just wanted to play the instruments we play and record with them. We didn’t try to create a new sonic environment as we had with ‘Stonewall’.
We did research into production techniques when we did that first EP, I mean, we had to sort of learn a new world of sound!! (laughing) I can record using Pro Tools and I have been able to for years, but you know, I had to learn things like Logic and Ableton, and so did Erin, it was a lot of work and, and I mean, we love what came out of it, it’s very different and it’s very meaningful to us, but I think with ‘The Risk’, it was a lot easier and simpler to produce. There’s also beauty in that as well.
The other thing too is that after releasing ‘Stonewall’, I think we’ve also realized that we now have to arrange the songs differently all over again in order to perform them live! (laughing)
It’s like starting over, just so we can perform, because, you know, we don’t have a band with synthesizers and all the means of recreating that soundscape, you know, so I think the other thing is thinking down the road, how do we want to perform these songs?
Just touching on ‘Stonewall’ before we talk about ‘The Risk’ a little bit more. The Civil Wars left a massive hole in that type of country music and listening to the ‘Stonewall’ EP was the closest anyone’s come to sort of inheriting the ‘Civil Wars’ sound. Were you fans of theirs?
Chris: Oh, we’re massive fans.
Erin: Probably their biggest fans.
Chris: That’s very kind of you to say, comparing us to them.
Erin: They were a huge influence but then we also took it to a different place with, like Chris said, programming and tracks and things like that. We are both massive fans of them both, as The Civil Wars and as individual artists too. I’ve seen both Joy and John Paul and they’re incredible.
And so you two met on the set of the ‘Nashville’ TV show, obviously. And what we want to know is – who took the first risk with the two of you getting together initially?
Chris: Probably me, yeah, I threw myself out there (laughing)
Erin: I’m certainly not the type to just ask a guy out! (laughing)
Chris: I remember I was sitting with a friend on the porch of ‘The Turnip Truck’ (a trendy Nashville grocery and eat-out joint) having lunch and hanging out there. Erin came in, she had this big smile on her face, and she was chatting with us, really friendly and cute, you know? I turned around to the guy I was with and said, ‘I think I’m gonna have to ask her out on a date,’ and he said, ‘Well if you don’t, I’m gonna!’
Erin: You never told me that! (laughing)
Looks like you missed some other options there Erin! You know, Chris, speaking of ‘risk’ even further: did you ever consider playing an openly gay cowboy/singer on ‘Nashville’ to be a risk at all? Or did you just jump at it?
Chris: I thought it was a fantastic opportunity. Yeah, I mean from a storytelling standpoint, wow, how cool was that, that we were gonna be able to dive deep into Will Lexington’s story? So, no, it didn’t cross my mind as any sort of risk, it only felt like a really wonderful opportunity to play a wonderful character and tell a great story.
Erin, did you think that you were taking a ‘risk’ going out on tour with Trace Adkins?
Erin: (laughing) I mean, that bus was packed with a bunch of, like, you know, ‘guys’ which was definitely interesting. (laughing) Every tour I’ve been on has had a different family feel and community and they’re all unique. I came in for this Christmas tour with Trace and you have to adapt to that ecosystem, you know?
Chris: So, was it more like ‘Honkytonk’ or ‘Badonkadonk’ on that tour then? (laughing)
Erin: (laughing) A little of both! You know, in the music industry, you need to be able to play an instrument, but you have to also be able to be social and you have to fit in and get to know people and not step on anybody’s toes. I’ve toured with some very different types of people. And every single one has been so rewarding. So if it was a risk, it was a rewarding one!
The crux of ‘The Risk’ to me, is the line ‘The risk factors’ high now just being alive, let’s face it.’ That seems to be the nugget to take from the song. That line is very relatable to the world right now.
Chris: Absolutely. Because it puts the song in the perspective of today’s world. That’s where we were at when we wrote it, you know, that really is what we’re trying to say. This pandemic has shown us that we took so much for granted that we no longer can rely on it. You know, we wanted to say that the things that seem important to you are good and so it’s worth trying to jump in and take some risks because you can lose a lot really fast.
We agree. We really like the guitar solo. Did you play that Chris?
Chris: Thanks. I did. Yes, I did. I played all the guitars on the track. Yeah. And bass too. And Erin played the mandolin and violin. The violin got a little buried but we went with the country-pop sound. I loved that solo too. Erin helped coach me through it as my first solo was a little more mellow.
Erin: He changed the sound. Chris initially had one with less…………. What would you call it?
Chris: Balls (laughing)
Erin: (laughing) Distortion. He had one with a lot less distortion to start with.
So, can we expect more music coming down the line from you guys this year too?
Chris: Oh, yeah, we don’t have a release plan yet. In fact, we don’t even have it recorded yet. But you know…….
Erin: The beauty of doing it ourselves is it could be done next week. We can get things out fairly quickly and on our own sort of schedule too. We’re certainly not going to stop anytime soon.