Long before there was a Dave Matthews Band, several DMB members played with an eclectic, virtuoso guitarist named Tim Reynolds. Reynolds used to perform with them at a Charlottesville joint called Miller’s, where Matthews used to bartend. When Dave Matthews Band began to record, they would ask Reynolds to guest. Matthews and Reynolds also would tour colleges as an acoustic duo. One of those shows was captured on Live at Luther College, which recently was released on Matthews’ Bama Rags Records. The release coincided with a brief tour between the longtime friends. Reynolds also recently toured with the entire Dave Matthews Band and plans to do so again this summer. When not working with Matthews and DMB, Reynolds leads his own band, Puke Matrix, formerly called TR3. I spoke with Reynolds about his tightness with DMB and his own musical vision.

Did you hook up with Dave Matthews at Miller’s?

Yup, in the late ’80s. I played there all the time. He was a bartender there. I knew the rest of band way before that. We played together in Charlottesville since I moved there in ’81. I would play with LeRoi and Carter. Dave moved to town in ’87. Besides being a bartender he also did a lot of acting. He was the best actor in town, just a natural. He’s brilliant.

How did those early days affect your eclectic style?

Getting together with Carter and all those guys. They were always cats who’d play all kinds of music. Stylistically, there were no barriers there. That’s part of something we share together. Carter always played rock and jazz. Same with LeRoi. They all grew up Charlottesville. I move there in ’81 from the Midwest. We all had a love for music but not just one kind. We’d all get together and play jazz at high society gigs, but we’d also play funk and rock.

It wasn’t a big effort to stop and think, OK, we’re playing jazz now. It would just come out in the music as one big thing. That developed over the years. I was always into other kinds of music. As soon as I learned rock, I got into progressive rock, then jazz. Then when I got sick of that, I got into world music. So now I’ve gone full circle, because industrial rock has gotten me back into rock. I like when the lines of music are blurred. I can get into Marilyn Manson, but then I also can bet into bebop guitarist Joe Pass. Trent Reznor is genius in his own way and Joe Pass is a technical wizard, yet he’s not related to the way Trent puts music together with computers. He has a whole band on computer, whereas Pass is a whole band with his strings.

I like to play with effects then no effects. One day, I will not touch a guitar, but I’ll make music with all these toys that make me sound like a guitarist. Music is like moods. A certain kind of music gets you in a certain mood. For years, I didn’t like any modern rock. I didn’t open to the esthetic of it. Then, when I was spending some time in the studio with Dave Matthews Band, I was driving one night and the harder stuff kept me awake. So now I’ve developed a taste for harder music that I never would have considered 10 years ago.

You’ve been guesting with the Dave Matthews Band and playing acoustically with Dave for some time. Why not just join DMB?

Before they ever started and during and after, I’ve been doing my own thing for years. It’s not the biggest, most popular thing in the world but it means a lot to me, and I like to keep in touch with it. It’s gotten more popular working with Dave. I’m doing more and more each year. I’m not in the media as much, but it’s a steady thing.

I’ve been doing TR3 sine ’84, but now it’s called Puke Matrix. The name comes from the involuntary nature of how the music comes out. The guys in the band make me play wilder than anything else. They make do things I wouldn’t think of. TR3 was a jazzy worldbeat thing, but I’ve wanted to rock out with a rock band since ’95. We had to get a different agent, because we couldn’t deal with it anymore. He wanted us to be this Grateful Dead jam band. I was like, “Fuck you! I want to rock.” Now I’m having so much more fun playing music. That’s why I like do all of Dave’s gigs, then I go on to the other gig and it make it so fresh. I learn bunch from each and they feed off of each other.

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