A film project that fell apart three years ago gave actor-director-writer-activist Tim Robbins the time and the impetus, to start writing the songs that became his first album.
“I got into the studio in my house in New York and took my guitar and recorded 15 songs in a few days and didn’t think much of it,” recalls Robbins, 52, who released “Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery” earlier this month. Then a call from friend and music producer Hal Wilner, asking “What have you been doing musically?” got Robbins to consider those songs further.
“(Wilner) listened to them and called me a couple days later and said, ‘I think there’s a really good album here. Are you free in a couple of weeks? I’m going over to the U.K. and I’ve got the perfect band for you. ... ’
“I actually was free, and that’s how it happened.”
It’s not Robbins’ first foray into music; in Los Angeles he led a punk rock cover band called Gob Roberts — a play on the rightwing folksinger he played in “Bob Roberts.” But his work with the Rogues Gallery is more rootsy and ruminative, rich Americana-styled songs rich with characters and narrative strength — not surprising given Robbins’ “day job.” And he’s enjoying it enough to be talking about a next album and making music a going concern alongside his other pursuits.
“I have to say, it’s way more fun doing live shows as a musician than being an actor,” says Robbins, whose parents were musicians. “It’s a transcendent experience, and I feel blessed to be able to do it. I feel like it’s an experience that can’t be matched and certainly something that has deep roots and meaning for me. It’s a tradition and a heritage I want to honor and keep going.”
Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band perform at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3, at the Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $35. Call 734-761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.