Guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds cut his teeth on studio experimentation and complete mastery of all the different sounds one can get out of a guitar, but on his new album That Way, Reynolds revisits one of his first loves—the acoustic guitar.
The stripped-down record is fitting given Reynolds’ touring schedule this year—a trip around the globe with Dave Matthews as the two longtime collaborators and bandmates play as an acoustic duo while Dave Matthews Band takes a year off from the road.
We caught up with Reynolds shortly before the release of the record to discuss his new record, plans for the year and what he loves about the acoustic guitar and improvising.
Can we start with a recent show you and Dave played in support of Standing Rock? What was your memory of that night?
The ultimate awesome thing about that night, for me anyway, was playing with Graham Nash, and getting to rehearse that song and then do it live. It was cool, because he had his guy with him that did vocals and guitar. Basically, they just did it and we played with them, and it was really cool. It was awesome. I usually don’t get star-struck. I don’t know if it was star-struck so much as it was; ‘Wow, I listen to this song a lot. I know this song! This is my shit!’ It was cool that he was such a really cool guy. Just him talking, and seeing how fired up he was about the whole thing – it was cool.
And you also played with Neko Case that night. Was that the first time you’ve played with her?
It was the first time. She was awesome as well. It was cool because we got to hang out with her a little bit when we were rehearsing the songs and it was just cool. I never got to hang out with her, so that was neat. We hung out, worked on the songs, everybody was really cool about it.
Transitioning to your new album, That Way, which features acoustic work both new and old. When did you decide that it was time to put these tracks on record and how did you land on an acoustic-based record?
I had been working back to playing more acoustic gigs, and it was really nice that it came easier after we did a couple of summer tours where Dave did an acoustic set. Before those couple of years, a lot of the summer I wouldn’t have an acoustic guitar in my hand. I would try to go to acoustic gigs and I always felt like I was behind in my shit, trying to keep it together, because that’s a different animal.
Those kind of summers really helped me get back into having [a guitar] in my hand more. I wanted to make another recording, but I didn’t feel like I had enough songs. I had some old ones that I hadn’t recorded yet, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to use them. Some of them were really simple; I played them for a long time. I was kind of tired of them. You don’t listen to it like you listen to your favorite artist.
Then I got more into the idea of trying to record some of those songs and then I started writing new ones, and that really got it going. When we went to Europe the year before last, we didn’t do the acoustic set. What I started doing for myself, because I really enjoy that time of day – I started like an hour before any of those shows and played acoustic by myself in a little room. I started coming up with little ideas when we were in Europe, and probably some after, for sure. That’s why there are pictures of that there.
I really love doing that. It’s hard to find time to put it together. I’m always recording little ideas, but the next phase of that is always to put it together. That’s the kind of thing that’s hard to find time for when you’re always on the road. On a day off, you just want to chill when you’re at home, but I finally got it together and had some songs, and then I had too many.
Last January I said, “Okay, let’s do it.” I had a friend in town who I recorded with, so I just did that. The last thing I wanted to put string on the last song, and that was really inspiring. It took a little while to get that together, but I’m really happy with it. Whenever I do those kinds of recordings, there’s always no way I can fix the millions of mistakes that happen in my mind. But to me, I’m trying to get this music across. Once I’m satisfied beyond the mistakes, the music sounds like kind of what it’s supposed to sound like. I’m satisfied with that, because I can’t keep trying to make it perfect; that’s not the idea.
I just really had fun. For the first phase of touring on that, I’d play the record, like back in the ‘70s, where people would come out with a new album and that’s all they’d play. I mean, I play other shit because it’s only fifteen minutes. So, it’s just been fun, and now I’m really psyched to continue that. I hadn’t been able to find time to write in that medium for a while. Once I started doing it, I realized, ‘This is so fucking easy, man!’
I just really found how much I enjoy doing that. I mean, I love playing too, like improvising, but that kind of comes out of improvising, my writing. That’s just the magic of music for me: that it to you when you’re open to it. It’s already there somewhere, not in us, but out there, and it comes. And that’s what I love about it.
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