Rob Mayes Makes Country Music and Film Collide

Are there parallels between country music and acting? Actor and country singer/songwriter Rob Mayes seems to think so! While the Ohio native has been seen on the small and big screen for nearly a decade now, the life long country music fan is ready to make the leap. To me, it seems that a lifelong love of telling soulful stories for Rob is now getting a creativity bump. With songs about the common mans soul and simplicities of everyday life, Mayes effortlessly combines his love of storytelling on-screen to telling them thru melodies. Not afraid to shy away from the hard topics, Rob Mayes proves that he is unafraid to take risks in country music, and let his soul speak for him.

What are some of the musical influences you have from growing up, and are those still people you like to listen to today?

I grew up listening to a lot of country. My dad played in bands and he played a lot of jazz and so I, I came to love of Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto. I listened to those guys in addition to all the country guys that I grew up with. But I've always loved like Duncan Sheik and that era of music as well.

Why do you feel that your values and talents align so well with country music?

Country music to me, it stands for truth and it stands for hope and redemption. Increasingly it seems like it's the last like bastion of honesty, which to me is a special thing. That's really what I love about it. Also, I love the harmonies. I love the melodies, you really can’t get much better!

What has been your favorite part about the writing and co-writing process in Nashville?

I did a little bit of co-writing before I started coming to Nashville. Ive been coming to Nashville from L.A for been four or five years, so I've been been co-writing since then. I'm back and forth from LA to my place in Nashville every few weeks now. I’ve spent a whole lot of time there and I just absolutely love it. There's something special about getting into a room with other people chasing a like-minded idea for a song. Growing up, I read a lot of Ayn Rand and stuff like that. I still love her, she was always talking about creation in the midst of other people and using all the people in a room creation ends up being creation by committee.

So from her standpoint it's diluting, it's diluting a point of view. So initially I was a little hesitant, but I've come to realize that co-writing is a very special thing. It really is so amazing when a group of people can sit down collectively over a song then add in bits and pieces of themselves.

I've been writing the greats, its truly been wild. I’ve written with Earl Bud Lee who wrote “Friends in low Places.”I was just with Craig Wiseman the other day for like six hours and, and Dallas Davidson, all these guys. It’s been very, very special. I’m very grateful.

Where is your favorite place to pull inspiration from for a song?

It kind of depends on what I'm feeling. A lot of people focus on love songs or a girl and a guy. For whatever reason, that stuff seems to come kind of harder to me. I think lately, we've been living in a world that is so confusing. Justice seems so upended that that's kind of where my soul, heart and mind have been. I put a song out last year “What I Believe”, and it encompasses all I find to be true. I believe we should let our kids have a childhood, don’t rush them. But my songs seem to some from the soul.

Do you feel like being an actor makes you a better singer songwriter in any way?

I think there's a lot of parallels between acting and singing. It became clear to me that the stories that I want to tell the stories that I wanna write, the stories that I want to sing. They both have similar themes of hope and redemption. Maybe these are kind of more universal themes of loneliness or whatever it might be. You know, cause I mean, I feel that way sometimes. And what do we turn? What do you turn to you? You know, you're not gonna, you're not gonna turn to like the stock market.

You turn to like the stuff that makes us feel human, the stuff that makes us feel a genuine human connection. A melody is a progression in a story, whether it's in a film or in a TV show or a song.

When did you decide that you wanted to dabble in country music?

I was young, maybe eight years old or something. I was in the car with my dad and I heard this song come on and it was country music. I had this moment of “what is this?”The way the harmonies hit my ear and how they spoke of real life really spoke to me. That's what country music's about.

I’ve always wanted to chase country music. I think for whatever reason, I got so hung up on my lack of access to decent production. So I started writing song that were coming out naturally. At the time it was more pop rock stuff. But after I left my show Mistress on ABC a few years ago, I started working with real country music songwriters and country music producers, and it just changed everything.

I think my acting got in the way and so did my excuses, but when the stars align the align.

You recently made your Bluebird Cafe debut! What was your favorite moment from the experience.

Being nervous? *Laugh*

It is the absolute Mecca for songwriters and to get asked to play there was a very special thing! To be up on that stage and you singing these songs in this historic place that. Just like Faith Hill says it is one of the few places that she still gets nervous to play. There's something spiritual about it, and quite frankly, overwhelming.

When I got there I jumped up on stage and I'm plugging my stuff and getting ready to play. The guy next to me that I was playing with asks me “have you done this before?” I told him no and I didn’t know what to expect! He told me everyone in the room was going to judge me. That people normally start on a Tuesday and this was a damn Friday night. So yes I was nervous. But I was beyond grateful for the opportunity.

You have some movies coming out with some country music greats! What advice did you all swap?

I did a movie with Trace Atkins which just, just came out recently called “Desperate Riders.” Let’s just say I will always look up that man. He is very very tall!

My movie with Beau Bridges is called Neon Highway. Both Lee Brice and Dallas Davidson wrote a bunch of the music for it. Acting in a movie with some of my heroes was wild! At times it was really overwhelming!

I was a tad hesitant to ask the guys for any advice. But Lee was so kind and really funny. My favorite story from filming was we're in this recording studio, recording this song for Bo Bridge's character. Everyone is running around on set and Lee sits down at the piano and starts playing something beautiful. We're all like, wow, this is insane. And a set assistant starts yelling at Lee Brice of all people. It was a really amazing experience.

How do you define country music?

It the heart and soul of the people who tell their stories. Not much more to it!

What are you excited about this year!

I am excited to get back a post Covid world with both my acting and my music. I am excited to continue to write more music. My new movie with Anna Camp called 5000 Blankets I just wrapped as well. All of my work this year I am proud of, it is from the heart and its me.

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