You probably know Chris Carmack from one of two things: his role as Luke Ward on “The O.C.,” or as country singer Will Lexington on the ABC series “Nashville.” The character came out of the closet on Wednesday’s season finale of the show, the day before this interview was conducted.
He’ll be performing music from “Nashville” and his own songs Saturday at the Val Air Ballroom. Carmack has been playing music since he was a teenager and when he was cast on “Nashville” he initially thought it would be easy to translate his onscreen music to an offscreen career.
“When I came to Nashville I felt I wanted to plug into the machine of songwriting and capitalize on the image of the country star I was playing,” Carmack said. “I figured I would record music like on the show and go play for people. But when I started writing with that in mind, I found it very unrewarding and frustrating. But I had some lovely friends who heard my old stuff and encouraged me saying, “That sounds like your voice,” play that.”
Carmack’s debut EP,” Pieces of You,” is due out soon. He’s also been featured on multiple “The Music of Nashville” releases. His influences include singer-songwriters like Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, John Mayer and blues great Buddy Guy.
The first single from “Pieces of You,” “Being Alone,” is out now. Carmack said he first worked on the song while living in Los Angeles.
“The nugget of that song started when I was in a relationship that I felt was very special, but I didn’t know if I was ready to commit,” Carmack said. “It became more about a young man trying to find his way in the world. I had been working on the ‘The O.C.’ and was finding an actor’s life to be very tumultuous. Then I went from being employed to unemployed and realized that I was living a very lonely existence. ‘Being Along’ is about choosing your own self over the camaraderie of a group that requires you to hand over your own identity.”
“Nashville” was recently renewed for a fourth season and Carmack said he expects to continue playing Will Lexington for awhile. Filming doesn’t start again until mid July, so until then he’s planning to focus on his music.
“I want to finish the EP and then it would be nice to find a nice opening spot on a Carmack friendly tour,” Carmack said. “I’m doing what I can to test my mettle. The ‘Nashville’ cast just came off a 10-date tour. We’re just having fun making music.”
When: 8 p.m. Saturday
Where: Val Air Ballroom, 301 Ashworth Road, West Des Moines