It was a Saturday morning, and singer/songwriter Chris Carmack could already feel the walls closing in on him. Broken glass and cigarette butts from the party upstairs the night before was strewn across the little balcony of his little hotel room looking over the big city of Los Angeles, and on the other side of those sliding glass doors was his exhausted new wife and a crying new baby.
There was no escape.
No where to go.
He was trapped, in every way.
So, he started writing.
“It was just this time in our relationship where, quite literally, it was difficult to find the space to communicate with one another,” explains Carmack of the honest song “Stonewall” that serves as the title track of Life on Eris’ debut EP, set for release Friday (Oct. 23.) “We had to find the grit to get through it, because we knew it was going to be better some day. We knew we didn’t have to talk about all of our problems right now. We knew we would get through this.”
And they did, because that was now two years ago at a time when the newlyweds found themselves travelling between Nashville and Los Angeles, looking for a place to live while Carmack continued his acting work on Grey’s Anatomy.
“Lyrically, you can hear all these references to that 600 square foot hotel room,” recalls Carmack’s wife and Life on Eris’ bandmate Erin Slaver of the song who’s stripped down, acoustic video premieres Friday (10/23) exclusively on American Songwriter. “‘Roll down the shades’ and ‘do not disturb’ – we painted it as real as we could in that song. We were basically just trying to make it through.”
“We have pretty much felt like we have been in quarantine for awhile now if you think about it,” laughs Carmack, mere days after him and Erin’s second wedding anniversary.
Luckily, these two accomplished musicians that now make up Life on Eris put that quarantine time to good use with the creation of Stonewall. Not only did the husband/wife duo write all five songs of the EP together, but they also self-produced the entire project and played nearly every instrument on the project.
“In this time of struggle, it would have probably felt nicer to release something that would distract people and give them a sense of escape, but I think there is also a comfort in the honesty that other people are going through struggles as well,” says Carmack, who’s first cut off the new Life on Eris EP, “Damaged Good,” was released last month. “Everyone is having a difficult time. Sure, some people are trying to smile through it and tell everyone that everything is great, but c’mon. With this quarantine, you want it to end, but its not going to end. So we can either talk about what is really going on or we could put our collective heads in the sand and try to make it all disappear.”
Indeed, there is a fire between the two gorgeous creatures that make up Life on Eris that even a pandemic can’t extinguish. You can see it in the way they look at each other and the way they talk with each other, but the fire they create within their shared music”
Well, that is nothing short of an inferno.
“This EP gives listeners a very intimate peek into our relationship and what we have been thinking both lyrically and musically,” says Carmack, who first met Slaver while filming the TV drama Nashville. “There were no outside influences to color or redirect or offer oversight on what we were doing. Every second of these songs were based on choices that we as a couple made.”
Melding together Carmack’s edge on the guitar with Slaver’s delicacy on the violin, Life on Eris’ 5-track EP is raw and beautiful, ethereal and calming, honest and intriguing.
And yes, it’s downright therapeutic.
“Whenever I write a song, I ask myself ‘why am I writing this?’” Carmack says. “What is its value other than than the fact that I personally love to make music? I truly believe that if you dig deep and let the music serve as an honest reflection of who you are at that very moment, the music will always have value because someone will hear it and they will relate it.”
Indeed, in a world that seems to be so dead set on focusing in on our differences, the music of Life on Eris and the relationship between Carmack and Slaver proves that even polar opposites can create something down right beautiful.