The first album from actor-director Tim Robbins grew out of an emotionally rough patch he was going through. Attempting to clear his head, Robbins retreated to his studio and penned 15 songs, which might have never seen the light of day had he not told producer Hal Wilner about them.
"I had known Hal from 'Saturday Night Live' and ran into him after (director) Robert Altman's memorial in L.A." in 2007, Robbins recalls. "He said 'let me hear them.' Coincidentally, he had invited me to the U.K. for some Rogue's Gallery concerts. Great group. I had two days off and he said 'why don't we go into the studio?' And we cut nine songs in two and half days."
On July 19, 429 Records will release "Tim Robbins and the Rogues Gallery Band." The album was released last year in Europe and Australia, where Robbins and the band did about 30 concerts. "I have discovered I like the bus," he says.
Robbins comes from a musical family, his late father having played with the Highwaymen and managed the New York folk club the Gaslight, his brother David a film composer and songwriter and his mother a musician as well. The actor wrote songs for his folk music -- playing politician in "Bob Roberts" and contributed to the music in "Dead Man Walking," "Human Nature" and "Catch a Fire."
Robbins will be promoting the album into October when he returns to film work. He and his band started a tour July 8 at the Winnipeg Folk Festival and is working their way west across Canada before shows in Seattle (July 18 at the Triple Door), Los Angeles (July 20 and 21 at Largo) and New York (July 26 at le Poisson Rouge). The tour concludes Aug. 6 at the Edmonton Folk Festival.
"What I missed in film, having started in theater, was the real experience with an audience," Robbins says. "If you're on and doing your job, for an audience it's tangible.
"I've taken my (theater) training into live music. It's a burned-in lesson -- respecting your audience. Never assume they can afford that ticket and always assume they spent their last dollar to come see you. That's the respect they deserve and an approach that we deeply approve. The audience is taking a leap of faith and so far, we have created a little community in places - Turin, Italy, Cologne, Ghent, Amsterdam - where we have great nights that are special for us."