Tim Reynolds on Working with Dave Matthews: "I Just Feel Really Lucky"
Tim Reynolds is the soft-spoken singer, songwriter, and guitarist that once upon a time virtually convinced an unknown Dave Matthews to sing his own songs. His work with the cultishly popular Matthews is what Reynolds is best known, but in fact, he occupies so many different musical arenas that his practice schedule borders on masochistic.
The guitarist's main focus is the electric trio he fronts, TR3. The group allows Reynolds to venture into everything from more conventional rock songwriting, to full-bore shred-fests that make no apologies for their full-frontal guitar assaults. Reynolds' solo work, however, is a slightly more demure affair that takes the athleticism of his electric playing into the acoustic realm. Alone, he's able to make roots-based music approachable for the uninitiated music fan and satisfying for the guitar nerd. The common thread in all of Reynolds' work is a passion for improvisation, something the guitarist has honed into a proper art form via his time on the jam scene with his DMB cohorts.
This is what Reynolds will bring this weekend to Lake Worth's Bamboo Room for a two-night engagement. We caught up with the guitarist about his influences, practice regimen, and talked about being a solo artist with a link to a superstar.
New Times: As an artist that plays many roles, do you prefer doing any one of those things over the other and is it difficult to jump between those roles?
Tim Reynolds: It's not difficult to switch hats, but what I find myself doing when I have those three gigs coming close together is I just have to practice a ton for each one. Dave has like a zillion songs, so we even practice on the road almost every night because he has so many songs you can't possibly remember them all. So, we kind of just keep an ongoing update of songs the band hasn't played or new ones or new covers.
With TR3, we have a whole repertoire, as well, and we keep trying to learn new songs and we've been working on this record for about a year. And that's kind of been my focus as far as writing. And acoustic is a whole different thing, because it's all different music, but there is the physical muscle memory of reprogramming. So I've been actually practicing more for the acoustic gig more than anything else, but I've managed to keep the 12-string with me at all times for the last several months, so I feel better about doing the gig. There is some level of being in control of the instrument and there are just different layers of how deep you can get into it.
I wanted to discuss influences a little. As far as your acoustic work is concerned, I hear a lot of Michael Hedges in your work. Was he an influence at all?
I remember when he came out, and I've watched videos of him, and I think I have one record of his. I never really delved too far into that. That's cool because he is a great guitar player, and I'm sure we have similar influences like rock music. When I started working on acoustic solo, it kind of came from the late '80s when there was more jazz, but it's hard to say because I feel like a complete schizophrenic.
I use the term athletic, but a lot of people don't necessarily see the acoustic guitar as an ideal vehicle for a of the musical ideas you're expressing as it is a bit of a restraining instrument compared to an electric.
I totally feel restrained in a way, mostly with improvising, because improvising on acoustic when you're trying to play something like a bass line or chords and improvise on top of that, you have to learn how to be more involved, you can't just go crazy. So, it's kind of neat because it really forces you to chase notes that are more important or notes that have more feeling or space, and to me, space is sort of deep because you can get caught up in playing, especially in jazz. Like, 64th notes and whatever and how many clever ways can you play that over changes. And that's all, to me, kind of a mental exercise that excites the intellect in a way, which is cool. It takes you on a harmonic journey.
Your music is obviously very guitar-centric, but it reaches a much more widespread audience through your work with Dave Matthews and his ties to the jam scene. Do you consider what you do music for musicians, being that it is very technical?
Like, Radiohead is the new prog for me. The bands that say they're progressive rock, you can't really repeat the progressive rock era without sounding like you're trying to rehash it. So, to me, Radiohead -- even though they're a pop band -- they're kind of like a progressive band because they've evolved in so many ways. They went from being a three guitar army band to like now, it's just like really great songs with very little guitar and really unique sonics and it's just like "wow, that's so fucking cool!" So, I see myself more as just doing what I do.
As an essential catalyst in Dave Matthews' career, how do you feel about having such close ties? Is it a double-edged sword for you?
I feel really lucky. He's just such a nice guy, and a very funny guy, so it's really easy to work with him. It's just like, the whole organization is just one of the nicest and most professional organizations in music, and people that come and work with them are always really impressed. Like I said, I just feel really lucky. You can't really get away from it because it's so big. You just have to learn how to be part and work with that, and it's all good really!
Tim Reynolds, 9 p.m., Friday, August 16, and Saturday, August 17, at Bamboo Room, 25 S J St, Lake Worth. Tickets cost $27 and $32. Visit bambooroomblues.com.