Interview with Riley Smith from The Life of Riley


Riley Smith is a well known actor, but what most people don’t know about him is that he has a passion for music. He loves to write, produce, and  play music. In 2006 Riley formed The Life of Riley with one of his best friends Henri O’Connor. In 2007 The Life of Riley released their debut self titled album and began touring. In 2009 they released the EP “Long Way Home” and in 2010 they released “Live in Hollywood”. They are currently working on their newest album entitled “By The Way” which you can support via Kickstater here. You can follow The Life of Riley members on Twitter: Riley, Henri and Jonah. Check out our interview with Riley below and help them release their next record! Their Kickstarter campaign only has 9 days left!

What made you want to form The Life of Riley?

“I have always been writing music and singing in the comfort of my own home. I had a couple of friends, notably one guy named Christian Kane, who was on the show ‘Leverage’, and he started playing shows in Los Angeles with his band and got his music put into his movies. I basically followed in his footsteps. His manager linked me up with Henri O ‘Connor who is the co-founder of The Life of Riley and the guitarist. At first I wanted to have my songs in television shows or movies, but then we started playing shows in Los Angeles. The band grew from there. It’s always been a hobby of mine. Now it’s taken a life of its own. So we sometimes pull the reigns back when it gets too busy, because it’s always going to be a side project for us –more like a passion thing”.  

Who are your musical influences?

“My musical influences are all across the board. It depends on my mood and changes with the wind. Right now I’m really into electronic pop stuff like Empire of the Sun, Phoenix, and Two Door Cinema Club. I think it inspired the new stuff we’re writing a little bit, hopefully more in the production of it. Nobody knows this about me, but I actually produce a lot of music on my own, for myself. It will never be released. I try to duplicate a lot of the electronic pop stuff. It’s an outlet for me. The Life of Riley is much more singer/songwriter stuff and soulful. With that kind of music my influences are James Morrison (who I’m seeing tonight in Hollywood), Jeff Buckley and Amos Lee. When I was a kid I grew up on a farm so I listened to country music a lot. It’s really all over the place. At first people didn’t know how to place The Life of Riley, so now with the newest record it’s more cohesive and more figuring out the sound we like the best.”

Why did you use Kickstarter for your new album “By the Way”?

“We had a few friends who had a lot of success with it. For us, I’d always fronted the album cost and then we were always trying to make up the money. Now that Kickstarter is available, we thought it would be an interesting route. We wanted others to be able to get involved and then everyone has a stake in it and can be attached. It’s a beautiful thing. It also allows us to not have to take the money from our own pockets. It’s almost like pre-selling the album in a way. So far Kickstarter is awesome. We’re only in the beginning of it. We have to stay on top of our promises. Launching it was exciting, and we’re doing really well with it. Now we owe people, and it’s a good kind of pressure, because now we’re working for people to get “By the Way” done.”

How did you come up with your Kickstarter video?

“That was my little idea. It was hard to execute. I had to act, direct, and I came up with idea. It was hard to do all those things. I had to be in it, but if it was my way I would have loved to just direct it. I spent endless weeks editing it. I had to make sure we kept in the story line. It was a lot of improv. I decided to just leave it the way it was when we edited it down to four minutes. My humble approach is almost self-deprecating. I try not to be taken too seriously or too cocky. I do the opposite and make fun of myself. That was how I came up with the video idea. I brought in a lot of my friends to make cameos and help get them publicity.”

What is your favorite song off of “By the Way”?

“It changes. Every song that I wrote for “By the Way” was my favorite when I wrote it. Then I’d write another one and that would become my favorite. Personally, right now, the song called “Hang” is my favorite. I wrote it solely by myself. It’s got the kind of feel that I’m trying to portray. When I sat down to write “Hang” there was really nothing on my mind except for the fact that I wanted to write a positive happy song. Something that makes the listeners and me feel good inside instead of depressed or emotional. “Hang” came from this story I made up in my mind about this girl who is a friend, but I’ve always secretly wanted more. The song came out so quick and easy. I love it. Two other songs I really love are “By the Way” which has been out for a long time, but we’ve never released it and “Vancouver” which is the first song I ever wrote.”

Describe a day in The Life of Riley?

“During the day we all go and have our own lives. Everyone has real jobs. Henri produces for other bands and is an electrical engineer. I’m busy with acting. Jonah our drummer just moved to Amsterdam for his advertising firm. We try Skype with Jonah every night. We are all best friends. At night it comes back to music, even if we’re sitting around drinking beers we end up playing music. We’ve written like a millions songs. We start so many songs, and then we have to decide what’s going to be for The Life of Riley and what isn’t.”

What is your goal for The Life of Riley?

“To not fail. Our goal is to always have fun and freedom. The Life of Riley is an outlet for us to travel and meet new people and play for people we’d never had a chance to play for. It really sunk in for us when we started traveling to different cities and saw people singing our songs back to us and sing along. We’ve had people tattoo our lyrics on their body. That’s more of a commitment than I’ve made, I don’t have any lyrics tattooed. That type of motivation is what keeps us going. Our goal is to always keep playing for the people and not be bound by any restrictions.”

How was the Newport Film Festival?

“I’ve been to the festival before. It was fun. I did a short film called ‘Sunday’s Mother’ for a really great producer and director. I played Kathryn Morris’s love interest. She was fantastic. I think the movie turned out great. It was fun to watch everyone else’s shorts. There were like 8 shorts shown as a whole screening of shorts. It was really moving. As an artist, I loved being able to support other movie makers.”

Favorite thing about ‘10,000 Days’?

“I love the potential that it has. I think that web series are about to explode and be the new wave of entertainment for our industry. At first when I got the offer for ‘10,000 Days’ over a year ago, I wasn’t sure I wanted to do a web series, but I knew they hoped they could make it into a movie or TV series. The web series was only a platform. I was excited to get involved at the ground level and see where it went. Now it’s out and tracking well and looks great. Other multimedia avenues are opening up. A lot of big names are now doing web series. I can’t wait to see where ‘10,000 Days’ goes. My character is laid back, and the comic relief. I never get to play that role. I’m loving the fact that I got the opportunity for this role. I hope it goes somewhere so I can keep playing that role. This character is more like my real personality, so it’s not really work for me.”

Do you prefer playing the comic relief or the romantic lead or action hero?

“I guess the grass is always greener on the other side. I like switching it up. If I do any one role too long I need a break. I have to recharge the battery of that particular side of myself. I love acting in general, so I love playing all roles. The dream role is a having a little bit of all those personalities into one character.”

What would the theme song to your life be?

“That’s a great question and I want to give you a great answer. I would go with “Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival.

If you could perform with any musician dead or live who would it be?

“I would say dead Elvis and alive Daryl Hall. I love Hall and Oates!”

Any touring plans for The Life of Riley?

“Yes. We are planning on playing New York in July and possibly the mid-west in June. In the fall we are planning on doing a European tour. I don’t know the exact date yet, but those are all going to happen.”


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