Even though his Life of Riley band members have dispersed to various jobs at home and abroad, singer/actor Riley Smith still is living the life of Riley on TV.
He’s merging his love of music and acting with a recurring arc on Season 4 of the ABC hit series, “Nashville.”
Recently seen as a vampire on HBO’s “True Blood,” the 1997 Alburnett High School graduate was cast this summer and relocated to Nashville at the end of July, where he’s heating up the screen as rock star Markus Keen. In an instance of art imitating life, his character is making the crossover from rock to country with the help of lead character Rayna Jaymes, played by Connie Britton.
He gets to sing on every episode and will have the most cuts — three — on the new cast album. That high profile placement should be a springboard to more musical opportunities in “Music City.”
“All the writers in the town all want to get cuts on the ‘Nashville’ soundtrack,” Smith, 37, said by phone from Los Angeles, where he was putting together a music studio in his permanent home. “Last year’s soundtrack sold 600,000 albums and 3 million singles, so it went platinum.”
He’s hoping his time in Nashville will elevate his own songwriting abilities.
“I want to write with great writers that I’ve never had the opportunity to write with before,” he said. “If you’re just an actor from L.A. and you go to Nashville and you call these people and say, ‘Hey, I want to write with you,’ they basically hang up the phone in your face.
“But because of the show, I’ve got this special ‘in,’ so I went with the game plan that the minute I got there, I started connecting with music publishers who were setting me up with their writers.”
He soon found himself doing double-duty, writing with industry pros on his days off from the show. He now has more than enough material to make a solo record and will be writing even more when he returns.
“I fell in love with the city, I fell in love with the sound. The people are unbelievable — they remind me of the Midwest,” he said. “I’ve been having a blast. I can’t wait to put this record out because it will be a direct reflection of my time in Nashville — inspired by Nashville and with Nashville co-writers.