Photo by David Piacitelli

In 2009 Tim Reynolds introduced a new lineup for his group, TR3. The fittingly-named trio, which features North Carolina-based musicians Mick Vaughn (bass) and Dan Martier (drums), toured throughout the year and continue to do so into the new decade. Last year Reynolds and the band also released Radiance, Tim’s fifth album under the TR3 moniker and will return to the road for a series of shows, starting on April 1 in San Francisco.

For many fans and critics familiarity, their association with Reynolds begins with the Dave Matthews Band. The guitarist first met Matthews back in their Charlottesville days and as of late, the two have gigged as an acoustic duo in multiple occasions. In addition, Reynolds has joined DMB in the live setting and also in studio, most recently on the 2009 release Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King.

While he no doubt enjoys his time with Matthews, TR3 is Reynolds’ band and in the following interview he talk about Radiance, his upcoming plans for the trio as well as a a solo acoustic double-disc, live TR3, December’s Las Vegas shows with Dave Matthews and much more…

Radiance kicks off with “See You In Your Dreams.” It highlights a lot of your guitar solo work, however I noticed that there’s to be a rhythm guitar present as well. Do you prefer to have someone back you on rhythm or do you like to play both, using overdubs?

Mostly all of the tracks on this album were cut live. On a few tracks, I did maybe one guitar overdub; I try not to use a lot of extra guitars on the albums though. I did that on the last album, Parallel Universe (2005), using the studio as an instrument with a lot of guitars, drum machines and whatnot. But this one we tried to keep it mostly live tracks. Like you said, in “See You in My Dreams” there is one extra guitar playing as well as some volume swells. On a lot of the songs we used two different amps at the same time so it would beef up some tracks. There are actually three or four tracks that are solely live and were cut at the time they were laid down. “Cave Man” was one that was straight up live. The track had the energy and didn’t need any of the extra stuff. There were some overdubs here or there but that wasn’t the main focus. Sometimes you’ll make an album and then spend the same amount of time you spent cutting the live tracks brainstorming with far-out different dubbing, but we didn’t do it quite as much on this album. We wanted to keep the live band sound for this one.

Many of the tracks on Radiance are exclusively instrumental. How did you approach writing the songs on this album? Do you create the music first and then decide whether or not you want to add lyrics?

Yes, well I guess the lyrics get decided after you play the music. Some of the vocal songs on there, like the first two, started out on acoustic guitar and then I just reformatted them for the band. Some of the songs were actually TR3 songs from the 80’s that were reproduced in an original way to pay a tribute to the history like “Move on Ahead,” and “Trippin’ on You.” None of those recordings were really out there, so we did them over to update them and get them heard. It was really a fun album to make, having incorporated elements of older TR3 and new term TR3 to add some newer spontaneous shit.

Almost all of the songs on Radiance incorporate elaborate guitar solos. Were the solos improvised or do you write any of them out beforehand?

Most of the solos are improvised, which leaves it more up to chance. In some parts it may sound like a solo, but it may be a melody like in “Kaballah.” This track has a lot of guitar going on, but it’s mostly the melody until the middle cuts in and then it gets into the scanning which becomes pretty much improvised. Also it’s the TR3, so there’s always a lot of guitar going at one time. A lot of it is melody and some of it is improv and until you get to know the music, it may sound a lot more improv than it really is. Until you hear it over and over and over…

In the TR3, your guitar work is front and center, complemented by the bass and drums. In the Dave Matthews Band, you are more of an additive, adding guitar licks and rhythm grooves when necessary. Do you ever feel restricted by your role in DMB?

Not really because of the fact that I do have TR3 and I do get to play my solo stuff when DMB isn’t on tour. When they’re not on tour, I’m pretty much on tour with TR3 all the time. Since I get to fulfill that (TR3), I get to express myself and not be restricted by DMB. It’s a bigger band and really there sound over the years has been centered on the saxophone, violin and acoustic rhythm guitar.

And this has been the same throughout your entire history with the Dave Matthews Band?

No. When I recorded with them back in the day, it was kind of just to do studio parts. Now, in a way, I kind of equate what I do to like the way Peter Gabriel uses guitar; it’s not a guitar center, he has all these different instruments that mold into moods and stuff. So I can relate to that kind of playing as well as power trio mode or solo acoustic guitar where it is nothing but guitar. I get a lot of opportunity to play a lot of guitar, so I don’t feel restricted.

I kind of appreciate the difference, the variety of approaches within the different projects. It’s one big, happy, equilibrium. When I used to live in Charlottesville 20 years ago or whatever, I used to play a lot of different gigs like jazz gigs and improv gigs, so I’m used to having that kind of variety. And now at this time, it’s actually the fewest gigs that I do because it’s just TR3, DMB and sometimes solo. But that’s still a well rounded variety of things to do because I love to make music. If I didn’t do it, there would be no place for the insanity in my brain to go to; so it’s all good.

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