When he’s not recording and touring with Dave Matthews Band or performing select dates with Matthews in an acoustic duo format, guitarist Tim Reynolds tends to solo work or with his trio, TR3 featuring Tim Reynolds.

So far in 2024, he’s kept up with all of the above – acoustic duo dates, concerts as a member of DMB and shows supporting the latest TR3 release, Watch It. It’s a schedule devoted to music that Reynolds doesn’t mind because, even on a break, he’s busy collecting “snippets” for future songs and practicing along to his beloved album collection.

Our conversation bounces from Reynolds discussing his early embrace of rock music, playing in the church, briefly joining the Air Force, the new album, playing in TR3 with Dan Martier (drums) and Mick Vaughn (bass) since 2007, finally joining DMB and more.

A cordial ‘How’s the weather in North Carolina?’ – the place where he lived the last time we spoke in 2015, and the state listed in a recent article on him – led Reynolds to correct me that he moved nearly six years ago to Florida.

“It’s not the most important fact, I guess,” the amiable and wonderfully chatty Reynolds said.

JPG: At least the writer didn’t refer to you as a bass player.

TR: Well, you know, I am a bass player. That’s what I started out on when I was really young. I had some piano lessons and my uncle taught me the basic chords on a guitar, and as I jammed with him, he would play all the really fancy stuff, like country music. But, I found myself playing the low notes and I got the idea, “Well, I should get a bass. Then, I can really play low notes with Uncle Bill.” Then, I got a bass, and I was set, man. That instrument was my wonderful doorway into understanding music, and it got beyond reading or anything.

The bass is the bottom. It covers the chord tones, and then you play all this other stuff. I was really into it. I still have a bass. I have a couple actually. I got a four-string recently. I had a five-string, but the fifth string is always weird when you grew up playing a four-string. I got a jazz bass and I just love that thing, man. I feel free on it. Anyway, definitely a bass player at heart.

JPG: Well, I’m glad I made the comment about being a bass player.

TR: They give the bass player a bad rap…I think. [Laughs.]

JPG: Then, you have bands like The White Stripes, Flat Duo Jets or Royal Blood that don’t bother to have a bass player.

TR: Some bands can really pull that off. I’m really impressed because there’s a few people, they don’t need bass. They got all growling going on between guitar and drums.

JPG: You’re so busy with Dave Matthews Band and playing duo dates with Dave. No one could really blame you if, when you’re not doing that, you stayed home and chilled out or went on vacation. But instead, you’re doing TR3 and touring and recording. To bring it to the main subject here, what does TR3 do for you that causes you to make time to record and tour during any breaks?

TR: It’s the ability to express yourself in music and to have the luxury of being able to do that when I’m not doing anything with Dave. It definitely takes some extra drive, but I can’t get it out of me. I gotta play music.

Sometimes, it seems like, “Man, what are you doing to yourself here? You just got home. You’re gonna rehearse and go out again.” But, this break is really nice. I get to chill out for a minute. Sometimes on my breaks I feel compelled — that’s probably what makes me a musician — to practice probably more than necessary whatever the thing is next.

The thing that always makes me the most paranoid, I guess, which is a bad word, is if I’ve been playing a bunch of electric dates on electric guitar, which is cool. It’s a little easier to play. Then, I’ve got to play dates on strictly acoustic. That always makes my neurotic self feels like, “Okay, you better bone up on the acoustic, bruh.” So, I’ll be playing acoustic mainly.

JPG: There’s a degree of improvisation when you’re doing a solo with Dave Matthews Band, but there’s more with TR3. Is it easier or is it more difficult where you have to be more disciplined in DMB and a solo has to be so many measures versus a TR3 gig where you can play for as long as you want and cut out a song from the set?

TR: The funny thing is, TR3, to me, it seems like there’s less improv because we play the tunes and it’s all kind of set. There’s definitely improv moments, but not any more than DMB. In a way the improv moments in DMB are a little bit more wide open because there’s seven people playing. So, there’s a lot of interplay. In TR3 it’s very cool because it’s paired down to a power trio, and that kind of improvising is different, too.

I really enjoy the contrast of all of that. Also, playing in a trio — you’re always into different tones — but in that setting, you could be using one of the guitars in a low C tuning for some songs. That’s really fun to do but it’s all good. I like to keep playing. I haven’t done it for a while. It’s a whole different repertoire of songs from when I play solo acoustic gigs.

That’s how the last TR3 album came about because during COVID I didn’t record anything on CD or whatever. I just put out these tunes, nine or so on YouTube, and it wasn’t fulfilling to have done that with those tunes. They’re out on YouTube but there’s no real recording that sounds great, like a record. So, I thought instead of recording those songs solo, I want to do that with the band because I’ve never done that with tunes I constructed solo acoustic because those have a little bass, a little…they’re trying to sound like a band a little bit when I do solo.

So, it was really cool and fulfilling for me to teach the band those songs, and it was awesome because it was an easy thing to do for them and me. We already know how to play together. We’ve been playing together for almost 20 years. So, that was just such a fulfilling, easy thing to do. The tunes on that last record, that was just straight up. There’s a little bit of improvising, but it’s more like trying to be lyrical and sing and improv in a short space because there’s an art to that.

A lot of the greatest records, there’s not a long solo but the one that’s there is a standout. So, let’s try to make it mean something at the time. It’s a strength of going to do that recording. I can’t wait to get to the next project, which is down the line, but it’ll be more involved.

JPG: Was Watch It the first TR3 album where you exclusively played acoustic guitar?

TR: Yes, it was, and it’s been a long time coming.

JPG: Going exclusively acoustic, were there ideas behind doing that? Were there advantages or challenges for you creatively?

TR: I’ve done solo acoustic gigs and was known for a while using mad effects. “Oh, that’s the guy who does all the weird backwards shit and super-long loops.” That was cool too, but it was nice to just drop all that, just play the fucking guitar, man, and then have a band and lock into that. To me, it’s fun to create sound collage stuff but it’s really really down to earth playing some shit, man, just musical shit with the band. There’s something about that, locking into those rhythms.

JPG: Because 2020 was the last TR3 studio release, The Sea Versus the Mountain, I wanted to comment on that before I went too far. The song, “On This Mountain, Born in Clouds,” sounds like it’s taken from a soundtrack. Have you ever done any soundtrack work or care to seek that out?

TR: The people have thought of that for me many times and said, “You should do that.” I’ve never really got a connection for that. I’ve done some things. I can’t remember what they are. Contributed tracks to things like that. I have plenty of music that would lend itself to that.

I’d love to make a video or just put a bunch of music to some cool imagery, especially like that record and the one I did a long time ago but it was released during COVID – Venus Transit — which was more dreamy. I call it Mellotron Rock, even though I didn’t have a mellotron then, but the idea of that kind of strings…A couple years ago I finally bought a mellotron. Nowadays, it’s a digital keyboard. It’s not very big but it sounds exactly like the mellotrons of yore — old Yes, Genesis and Moody Blues. So, that’s part of my new thing is writing with the mellotron.

The next record, whenever we get to that, is going to be different than the rest. It’s all gonna be on a nylon acoustic. I have this little cheap Yamaha nylon acoustic, which is kind of my bestie. It definitely was a cheap guitar but it’s old now. I don’t even know how old it is, but it’s got a spirit. I want to record a record with that guitar because all these – I call them “snippets,” which are writing things to me. I get ideas and I put them on my phone and then I have a bunch on there.

I put them on to a CD, and then I mull over, “Do I want to make this a song? That’s better. Get rid of that.” I took a bunch of snippets of the nylon and then all these things that I was really psyched about the first week and I got my mellotron. I was recording all kinds of shit with this drum machine that would just create a groove and I’ll be like, “OHHHHHH” with the voices and the flutes…

For the next record it’s gonna be called Dragon’s Blood Crystal. This guy got me this crystal and it was called dragon’s blood and I thought those are the three coolest words I’ve ever heard put together. I gotta do something with that. So, there’s a song already and that might be the name of the next record. I know I’m being very premature but it’s good to have a long-term plan you can work on. [Laughs.]

JPG: Oh, absolutely. Speaking of snippets, there were several tracks on Watch It that sounded like they could be transitioned to a DMB song. I’m talking about snippets of the title track or “The Sun is Still There” or the end of “Mutant Swarm.” When you’re coming up with your snippets do you compartmentalize them for solo work, for TR3, for DMB or find that what works for one may also work for another?

TR: Pretty much. Dave is a pretty prolific writer, so I don’t really feel like the need to, “Hey, Dave. Here’s a song. You want to do it?” He’s always cooking with gas, man. He’s always got things going on.

I feel it’s the freedom of not really trying. He’s got that thing going on. I appreciate it because I get to add my part and also, it’s nice to just write music and make it happen in a separate thing because then it’s fresh and it makes all the things you do a little richer, compartmentalizing them to a degree then you appreciate the other thing. Super-appreciating Dave after I do my own thing and super-appreciating whatever else is going on.

I appreciate it because I get to add my part and also, it’s nice to just write music and make it happen in a separate thing because then it’s fresh and it makes all the things you do a little richer, compartmentalizing them to a degree then you appreciate the other thing. Super-appreciating Dave after I do my own thing and super-appreciating whatever else is going on.

JPG: I understand how doing one thing can lead to enthusiasm for something else. I’m a freelance writer and photographer, but I recently did a few shifts for a dog boarding place. And while I love dogs, it made me more excited to get back to doing this again after a break.

TR: I remember when I worked at Kmart for three years. For the last year or so, we had the opportunity to work a nightshift, which was really great for me because those are the hours — most of the time — I was able to play and do that, too. It was always me trying to figure out a balance when I had to work a job job.

After I worked at Kmart for a while, I finally got to the point where I had enough gigs in Charlottesville of a different nature. I started having these TR3 trio gigs at Miller’s playing with John D’earth, playing with LeRoi Moore, playing with all kinds of cats. This was before Dave even moved there. I was integrating into the scene.

I remember the day I figured out I don’t need to work at Kmart anymore. I’m good, man. I remember going to the lady, a nice secretary of all the things, telling her. “Well, I’m gonna put in my resignation” and she was saying, “This is not a great idea for you” and I was like, “You don’t know how great of an idea this is for me.” But, they were cool. I worked really hard there. I cleaned up the toy mess that was there every day. I worked in a toy department, which meant you’re cleaning up the whole time you’re there from kids destroying toys. Then, you have to write down what the toy is and its value. All day, just doing that. Then, I get to the night shift, we actually did work that was not stupid and redundant. That was the last thing that I did that was a day job, what became a night job.

JPG: Back to Watch It, is the track “Golden Flower” based on an old folk song?

TR: No. It’s funny. That melody came out by itself, but the only part of the song that is based on something else, and it’s very subtle but it’s just a chord change. When it goes to the bridge, I was, at the time, listening to Carole King’s Tapestry and there’s a song, “So Far Away.” There’s a bridge where it goes [he sings the part] and takes us to the minor 6 chord, and I stole that for the bridge for “Golden Flower.” It goes to that kind of change. The melody is different but the chord, going from the root to that minor 6.

JPG: That is interesting because the melody really reminds me that it could fit well with some old folk song.

TR: Yeah. It almost has a folk gospel vibe. Country, but not. Gospel, but not. It reminds me of gospel music, I guess. I grew up playing that in church. I played the bass in church because that was the only thing my dad would let me do on the bass even though when the lights were out and they were asleep, I was learning Grand Funk. [Laughs.]

JPG: There you go. Well, you are in an American band.

TR: That was the period, I kinda lost it when [Grand Funk] did that [song] because I really liked the second and the third album, the one with “Closer to Home” and the one before that called “The Red Album.” Those were great hard rock classics but to me after that–no judging here–but I just didn’t like it as much as those other two albums. I’m trying to get The Red Album on my iPod because I have “Closer to Home” on my iPod. The Red Album is great. It’s just hard. They had a live album too (“Live Album”), which got a lot of criticism because they didn’t try to pretty it up. It was raw, it’s ugly, and the performance was fucking powerful. It’s hard to listen to it now because the sonics are pretty rough, but you get the feel, the rumble and the roar of the whole thing.

But yeah, Grand Funk’s second album. Fucking great. I can’t wait to listen to that while I’m chilling on the tour.

All my shit’s from about 1970 to 1975, mostly focusing on ‘69, ‘70 ’71, ’72. That era to me is the bomb of musical awesomeness. The best Yes. The best Zeppelin. So many things. James Brown. All that.

JPG: I’ve been a music junkie since I was four years old. I used to memorize top 40 lists

I remember the first time my dad observed me buying some radical rock music. I bought – and the album looks like just what it is, some psychedelic shit — Jimi Hendrix with lights on him in a very stoic pose with his guitar, and the album was called Band of Gypsys, live with Buddy Miles. That was my jam. I remember walking out of the store and going to the car, my dad saw that and was like, “Son, I don’t want you to ever buy one of those again.”

Of course, I hid that. That record lasted…my dad, he purged and destroyed one of my record collections at one point. Then, the second record collection, he thought he hid it from me, but I nicked a bunch back. [Band of Gypsys] survived all my dad’s purgings because at one point when he came down the basement and got all my records, it was hidden underneath the record player on like a cloth thing. On furniture, there’s a cloth thing, then there’s a record player.

It was hidden under there during the purging, and that record survived all the way through. So, it has a special place of honor, and it’s also the best Hendrix record. Nothing close to that. It’s just the way he plays with Buddy Miles. They’re funky, man. All his hits were cool but they sound square to me compared to the first notes of “Who Knows” [he sings those notes]. They just play that lick, and that’s all they do for 10 minutes, but it’s fucking sick. The guitar solo, there’s three guitar breaks, there’s nothing like it in the world. He makes that thing do unmeasurable things. I’m obviously excited thinking about that song. I’ve heard it a million times.

JPG: With Mick and Dan in TR3 and also Dave Matthews and the other members of DMB, you have a pattern of working with people that you’ve known for years. Is friendship of major importance to you because you have some bands that thrive on creative fiction and they’re always having new band members because of that or they’re a talented group of strangers? There’s not that friendship bond. Does it create a shorthand creatively and make things easier?

TR: I believe so, especially when you’re doing original music and you get into this familiarity with the musicians because you know that whatever you can come up with they can cover, even if you do something collectively you haven’t done before. That’s what you keep trying to do anyways.

I have total confidence in the cats that I’m playing with. I used to write a lot with drum machines when I had the equipment, and I knew how to work it. I forgot how to do all that. I had this really cool machine. It looked like a little keypad, and it had all the notes. It was basically a bass and drum thing. For a while, I knew how to work it because you could basically compose a song and quantize the measures. Do you want to make the last measure and the drum roll? You just make that last measure and insert it. I probably made a couple records like that. It was so fulfilling to do that. Then, I remember letting it go when I started playing with Dan and Mick because I spent so much time working with that – awesome, playing musicians – I started thinking, ‘Oh yeah. This is what it’s really supposed to be.’

It’s fun to learn to learn how to make things on that little thing, which I still love to do, because it’s fulfilling to have this thing when I have ideas, and you can execute them, and they sound pretty good.

There are people that I really respect that are really good at that, like Trent Reznor, Aphex Twin. They’re the top people in that drum machine world. Aphex Twin can go from the most beautiful ambient music I’ve ever heard to the craziest thing I’ve ever heard, like that song “Come to Daddy.” Remember that? It’s fucking nuts! The video to that was truly scary. The music to that is sick. I respect craziness.

JPG: On the other hand, there’s that human connection, that imperceptible heartbeat in the room when you’re working with musicians you not only respect but also have a friendship bond with and a rapport. I read the news item about Trey Anastasio joining you and Dave at a Riviera Maya and I’m thinking about him joining or Warren Haynes appearing with DMB or other guests. How does it work for you because you’re the main guitar guy, the lead guitarist, and you’re both sharing the stage? How does it work for you to be a good host? How do you work that blend?

TR: It’s out of respect. Say, Trey or whoever comes in, they’re sitting in for a couple songs. Why not just give it to them? I played solos all night anyway. What I really did like playing with other guitar players is playing rhythm behind them, not getting in the way but just check it out and try to add something very subtle. I dig that because that’s interplay that makes it worth doing. So, it’s fun to get other guys up onstage.

Sometimes, there’s interplay. Sometimes, they’re playing on a song, so, let them shine and do their thing.

JPG: Sit back and be the rhythm guitarist. You’re not into that kind of guitar duel, like what you see when blues guitarists get together?

TR: I like the idea of guitars playing together. The idea of a duel just seems counter-musical to me. It seems like that becomes a macho thing. I get it. I’ve seen things that are pretty funny, like there’s a great, short video of Gary Moore. First time B.B. King ever heard him, and Gary Moore just plays one note because he’s all about that. He just plays a note and it’s like, “Oh boy. He’s got the blues thing going.” Obviously, B.B. King knows there’s a camera to his left. Gary Moore hits a note and B.B. King looks and he’s like, “Damn son!” [Laughs.]

I get that, man. I still practice. Play that root note and make that shit shake. If you can’t do that there, you can’t really play. Improvising in a rock setting and everybody does it to a certain degree but B.B. has this special thing with that. There’s only a few other people. All the Kings got that – Freddie King, Albert King, B.B. King – and there are some other cats that can pull that off, too.

JPG: I was watching a video of Stevie Ray Vaughan the other day…

TR: Yes, totally. You can go to college, and they can teach you how to do that. If you go and you study and you do what they say, you can do that. They’ll show you. It’s not rocket science. It’s just a matter of physical ability. You have to make sure that you have a callous and you can lay into that note, past the pain, and then, all of a sudden, you have a super-thick callous and you can play that and shake it. [Laughs.]  One note, man. It takes a lot to make that note.

Anytime you see B.B. King, he’s gonna play the root and make it vibrate. It’s always badass.

JPG: For years, you played with DMB but avoided becoming an official member of Dave Matthews Band. In 2008 you finally, after being courted for all those years, joined. Why did you finally choose to do this?

TR: Over the years of not doing it, I came to be more comfortable with the idea. When it was first offered around the late ‘90s, they toured pretty much all the time. In ‘98 I went out with them for a couple months of that and I was like, “Man, I’m sorry Dave. I can’t do this so much.” Dave is one of the coolest guys in the world. He was totally cool that it was “No.” No hard feelings whatsoever, and I continued to record. After maybe 10 years later I was like…I guess because we started doing acoustic gigs, I got more used to being on the road. For a while, I didn’t want to be a guy who’s on the road all the time. Now, I can’t imagine not being only because playing music is a big deal for me still and I get joy and fulfillment out of it.

All the traveling aside, I get to do that. It’s like being a little kid when you get to play music, you have this innocent joy for a minute, which is priceless.