|2 DAY EXCLUSIVE WITH
DAY TWO: THE INTERVIEW
Riley Smith may play Markus Keen, a huge
Rockstar on one of today's hottest shows
"Nashville" but in real life he remains
grounded and down to earth. Saturday I met
up with Riley and his mom in the lobby of
their hotel. I was greeted with a big
smile, a hug, and an apology for the
delay. He clearly wanted to make me feel
at home. Before we even started the
interview, Riley wanted to know about me
and how I liked the show at the Bluebird
Starting off our exclusive interview, my
lead question was the similarities between
Markus and Riley. "I've been told we look
alike." he cracks, but says that's about
it. I joke "No Rockstar Diva?" and he
laughs, saying "No. I have nothing to draw
from in that department." And I can attend
to that. He is the complete opposite of a
diva off screen.
We flashed back to Motocross, one of the
first movies he made years ago. Riley had
no idea it would become so big, and to
this day still gets asked about it. "It
helped me get used to the situations I'd
face one day as an entertainer. One day I
was filming a movie for Disney, the next I
couldn't walk into a mall or Six Flags or
anywhere there were 13-18 year old's" he
recalls. "It was crazy but I guess some of
it prepared me for a character like Markus
When talking about the rest of the cast
(and they came up often) Riley had nothing
but great things to say. I get the feeling
the cast of Nashville is very close.
Markus and Deacon may play foes on the
show, but in real life they are good
friends. Riley gushed about how much
Charles Esten has helped and given him
since the start of the show. Posing for
photos outside of Highway 65 where they
film the label scenes Riley relays a scene
where the producers wanted the two to
glare at each other, saying they had the
hardest time. "Why would we do that?"
Riley was thinking. He also had high
praise for Connie Britton, Jonathan
Jackson, Chris Carmack, Sam Palladio,
Clare Bowen, Lennon & Maisy.
In the winter closer of ABC's Nashville,
Markus Keen announced he was leaving for
LA to work with his band and walked
out. "Markus will always be around.
I think he just had to get away from the
situation from the moment and take a
breath. I think he wants to be a good guy.
He's used to getting what he wants, and he
couldn't in that situation with Rayna so
he left." Riley assessed.
We discussed the town of Nashville in
comparison to LA. "The parallels of Markus
moving here and not understanding the
country scene and becoming a country
singer is very similar to me moving here."
Riley notes. He wasn't sure what to expect
but quickly fell in love with the town,
and it's country vibe.
"I think the beauty of Nashville is that
it's the perfect hybrid of from where
we're from in the Midwest and Los Angeles.
The people are very genuine, with
Midwest values. And yet you have a
great entertainment industry here, which
is why I think I took so well to the
city." Smith adds.
A musician in real life Riley comments
"When I got this job I thought this would
be a great opportunity to really dive into
the music scene." He is thankful that the
show has opened so many doors, allowing
him the opportunity to work with many of
his idols. Writing with various
songwriters in Nashville, this newcomer
has learned a lot. "Each guy has a
different style. That was the most fun
thing about each of these experiences,
adapting to their writing style, taking
something from what they are so successful
at and trying to incorporate it into my
When asked about his show the night before
at the Bluebird, Riley confesses to being
nervous. "I always get nervous playing in
front of my mom because I know how
important this is to her." Riley shares.
His mother had flown in from Iowa for the
Bluebird appearance, and he was so excited
to have her there, and show her around
town. Smith adds "I was definitely out of
my comfort zone. There were four #1 hits
that were played last night. Almost every
time I had to follow a number one hit. I
thought that's a lot of pressure." But he
pulled it off nicely. "I felt like last
night was seamless, everybody brought such
good personality to the set. I couldn't
have been happier."
And how did his music journey begin?
It all started with the trombone in 7th
grade band. Riley relays the story
laughing saying "Every other instrument
was taken." When asked if he was a band
geek, he says "I wanted to be." adding
that he did drama and sports as well,
wanting to take advantage of everything.
Riley has a solo album coming out this
year which he is very excited for. "I
wanted to make an album that was inspired
by Nashville, written and recorded in
Nashville, with Nashville writers, but
still incorporate who I am." Smith shares.
The first single is slated for release in
May, with an EP in June and an album
possibly by fall. He calls his music style
a hybrid of singer-songwriter, pop and
country with a jazz influence. "Until you
really know yourself it's hard to make
people believe what your selling.
Throughout the years of working on music
and writing, because it's a passion, doing
this all the time I've found who I am."
The subject turned back to acting and
other projects of his. "I enjoy music
because it allows me to say what I want to
say and what I feel. I enjoy acting
because it allows me to be someone else."
Riley has a few projects coming out. The
first is an independent dark comedy about
relationships called Control: A Love
Story. "This was a passion project and we
all left every ounce of our soul on the
floor." Riley states.
Another project Riley is really excited
about is a comedy/drama he's been working
on for three years. It's about a musician
and his trials and tribulations. Riley is
the writer, the producer, and he will be
acting in it as well. They are planning to
shoot a pilot in the near future.
Nashville fans will be thrilled to hear
that Riley announced he is looking forward
to returning to his role of Markus Keen.
"Without guys like Markus and Jeff
Fordham, they are the fuel behind the fire
of the show and a contrast between the
people you love on Nashville."
DAY ONE: BLUEBIRD SHOW
The previous night I had the honor of
being Riley Smith's guest at the Bluebird,
which meant sitting at a front row table
with his producers. Seeing the
Bluebird on TV, I was surprised at just
how small and intimiate the setup is. The
performers were so close that I had to
lean back to take photos. At only 100
people this was a sold out show, and the
room was packed.
One by one the artists took their stools,
and the crowd went quiet. Riley Smith
welcomed everyone to the Bluebird and
shared his love for this iconic venue.
"It's about the lyrics and about the love
so let's have some fun." It was his first
singer songwriter round and on the bill
were Rick Ferrel, Earl Bud Lee, and
Nashville friend Charles Esten. "I am a
bundle of nerves. This is an honor." Riley
confides before playing his first song, an
original called Hang. It was a new
song, and not as country but still good.
His nerves seemed to go away as he played.
Riley's next song was more personal. It
was called A Perfect World, and it was
written about his friend and roommate. "He
was dating a girl for 3 years but because
of her religion he couldn't tell people
about their relationship. Watching that
killed me." Riley shares. This song was
more country acoustic, and full of
On a side note, his great comraderie with
Charles Esten was an added delight
onstage. Halfway into the show the other
artists started playing drinking songs.
Charle's Esten performed one called
Whiskey Lips and after Riley jokes "I am
sorry I tried to kiss those whiskey lips.
I read the script and was like man they
are going to hate me."
Riley's third song was another original,
entitled I'm On Fire. Riley wrote it a
month ago with Matthew Perryman Jones.,
and can't wait to record it next month.
Before the last song Riley relays an
episode of Nashville where Markus recorded
a song of Deacon's, only he stole it and
changed up the words to fit his character.
Charles Esten stood up and announced
jokingly "I'm Outta Here". Riley then
played his last song of the night, Markus
Keen's biggest hit from the TV Show
Nashville, titled They Don't Make Em Like
You No More. It was my first show at
the Bluebird, and I couldn't have picked a
VIDEO PERFORMANCE OF "FORGET ABOUT ME"
FULL VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH RILEY SMITH : PART
1 & PART
FOR MORE NEWS CLICK HERE