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Interview: Ben Roberts from ‘The Timbers’


“We’re sort of a high energy, party folk for a late-night festival, if you know what I mean”. That’s what Ben Roberts, the self-confessed multi-instruMENTALIST from The Timbers, has to say about his merry folk quartet. We caught up with him for a chat about The Timbers’ ‘Restless’ album release and promotional national tour.

So, before we get into the nitty gritty, can you please tell me who came up with the name The Timbers, and how they thought of it?

Well it was collectively between Simon and myself, because we were named something else for a while when it was just a duo, and we were looking for band names. Then an old friend of ours was over at our house at the time and we said we wanted to be called something like ‘The Shiver Me Timbers’ because we thought that was kinda cool, and then we checked it out and there were already a few bands with that name! So we thought The Timbers sounded quite cool, and it sort of works with the acoustic music and that ‘wood’ theme.

I like it! You all hail from different areas – South Australia, Tasmania, and even Ireland! How did you guys all meet up originally and what made you decide to start a band?

Well Simon and myself met on Hamilton Island, when we were working up there. And then when we moved from there back to Adelaide once we started playing music together, Joe – the Irishman – was playing around town. So because I’d had my child and wasn’t able to go on tour, we asked Joe if he could fill in for me for a couple of gigs, and then we just decided to keep him around!

And I bet you’re glad you did!

Yes, we are! And then Kyle also was a guy around town who asked us if we needed any trumpet, and we did, so that was about four years ago now and we’ve kept him around ever since!

You describe yourselves as “a high-energy, alternative, folk-bluegrass-gypsy-country-celtic-punk band”. How on earth did you come up with such a specific genre??

Well, I don’t know! We’re sort of a high-energy, party folk band for a late-night festival, if you know what I mean. It encompasses a bit of all of that, because we all have many influences and we all come from different musical backgrounds.

So what’s your musical background? Do you have a favourite type of music that you love listening to or playing?

Well when I was growing up in Tasmania, I was into a lot of heavy metal bands. That’s pretty much all I did, was play metal music, till I left Tassie at 19 with just my acoustic guitar. So from there, I started getting into some more acoustic music. But we still play our music with that kind of metal intensity anyway, so I’m still filling that void with our music!

The new video for All I’ve Got Time For is something pretty incredible and hilarious. I’m a big fan. Do you have any behind-the-scenes stories about making it? Was anybody injured cartwheeling across the road?

No, nobody was injured!! I was the one doing the terrible dancing so I got quite injured, quite a bit. I was just putting it all into the acting, you know, and I gained a few scars for the story! So that was a fun day doing that. I really enjoyed it!

How did you come up with the idea for the story in the video?

Well I wrote it and we were originally going to try and do something with just Mason, who was the other dancer in the film clip, and do something a bit along the lines of Singing In The Rain sort of styled film. But then, the guy that filmed it said “Oh no, you’ve got to be extremely awesome to be able to do three and a half minutes of just him dancing around!” So then I went back to the drawing board a bit, and wrote in the other character and the story. So then we were on a strict timeline, and I had to step up and do the acting myself!

Well you did a great job!

Haha, thank you!

What process do you go through when you’re writing your songs? Are they all written from personal experience?

Some probably are, but some are probably fictional and tell a story, rather than personal experiences. So yeah, we all sort of write our own songs and bring them together to workshop them from there. We build our own parts and make them all fit!

You’ve played at some pretty cool live gigs, and shared the stage with acts such as John Butler Trio, Ball Park Music, and Eskimo Joe. What’s been your favourite live performance so far and why?

Yeah, we’ve played lots of festivals and probably one of the favourite ones is the Caloundra Music Festival in Queensland. That was probably a big highlight because there were unexpected huge crowds that we’d never had before. So that was a really great experience, especially alongside such high profile acts. 

That’s awesome. And what can we look forward to with the new album ‘Restless’? Do you have any favourite songs from it?

Yeah, there’s a song called Lucky Day which has a fair few metal influences on there, and there’s even a bit of screaming going on. And I was very happy with the way All I’ve Got Time For came out, too.

So would you say ‘Restless’ has more of a metal sound than your earlier music?

Well, I still wouldn’t actually call it ‘metal’ but we’ve definitely got some influences there. Some of it’s pretty upbeat and in-your-face, and then there are some really quiet tunes on there as well. The last song, Clockchime, is nearly a seven-minute song, but it’s really chilled-out and very spacious. It was all sort of done live and it’s just caught that moment nicely. So yeah there’s a lot of variety on the album – a lot of highs, a lot of lows, and everything in between.

Well I look forward to hearing the whole thing!

Thanks so much!

The Timbers’ new album ‘Restless’ is set for release out on the 25th February. Catch The Timbers at Brisbane Folk Night #4 , presented by AAA Backstage!


The Timbers ‘Restless’ Tour Dates


Brisbane Folk Club, Brisbane


Sol Bar, Maroochydore


The Irish Hotel, Toowoomba


The Yacht Club, Mooloolaba

FRI 11 – MON 14 MAR

Port Fairy Folk Festival, Port Fairy, VIC

THUR 24 – MON 27 MAR

National Folk Festival, Canberra


Mt Gambier Hotel, Mt Gambier


The Yarra Hotel, Melbourne

FRI 15 – SUN 17 APR

Sarrens Restaurant, Port Lincoln


Jive, Adelaide


Winter Moon Festival, North Queensland