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Monday, March 1, 1999
TR & Puke Matrix Theory by Bob Makin

Tim Reynolds & Puke Matrix Theory By Bob Makin Courtesy of: Jambands.com

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 Charlottesvilles 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 genious 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.

How good of a guitarist is Dave Matthews?

He's really good. He has a unique style, very understated. But it's not like simple folk guitar. He wears his hand out playing those songs. His voicings are based on thirds, and he uses his pinky a lot. A lot of guitar players couldn't hang with his shit. Rock n roll is really about the rhythm guitar. Without the rhythms, the solos wouldn't have as much balls. They wouldn't be anything underneath to dance to it.

How much did the acoustic tour you did with Matthews in 1996 help shape the songs on Crash?

Not that much. When we did Crash, we did a lot of improvising in the studio. The songs would just come up. But Crash was already formed by the time we went out on the road. "Don't Drink the Water" came out of the acoustic shows. That drone jam.

Live at Luther College was recorded before DMB started playing arenas. But now, colleges no longer can afford to book Dave Matthews Band. How much do you think the recent acoustic tour was a thank you to the colleges who helped nuture Dave Matthews Band?

I'm sure that's part of it. I don't really know. But I'm sure comes into play. The main reason is also, because he totally likes to do this. He's really into it. These large venues aren't initmate. People are, like, rowdy, but it's not intimate. It's like, "Ssshhh!" especially on like a Friday night when everybody's partying.

You have your own live album coming out on soon on TR Records, a followup to "Sanctuary." What will that be like?

It's called "Somewhere Else Live." I wanted to divest from the name TR3. That's why we came up with the joke name Puke Matrix. We wanted to clear the area for punking. We don't have moshing, but we're having puking. Half the stuff has been done before, half is new stuff. It's an electric power trio, like Band of Gypsies trying be industiral without computers. I want control my shit for a while. This year, we might do something with a label later. We have few offers, but I want to rock out. People want me do somethng else. I can afford to do things on my own terms, so I want to keep it up. Once get into the pop arena, you have to spend a lot of time nurturing that. It's like being on a presidential campaign until you get to the top, then you can ride it a while. I just want to campaign below the presidential level. I want to hang out with my family and party and keep things fresh. The last thing I want to do is get burnt from being on the road.

You're a big fan of Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson. What musical elements of music do you think your share with those bands?

I just like hard rock from back in the day. I grew up with that kind of music. Those guys harken back to it. Early Manson is like Black Sabbath and Alice Cooper, but it's definitely a modern take, not just copy cat. I hear where he copped some stuff rom that Bowie vibe too. I can relate to that.

I saw you play with DMB in Philly recently and I was really intrigued by the cool sounds you were getting out of your guitar. A lot of it seemed almost like sound effects more than straightahead playing, like the cool whale sounds and bleeps on "Deed Is Done." Comment on how you enjoy that and how it gives a twist to the music.

I've always been fan of that kind of stuff. One thing that happened ... years ago, I used to be able to sing real high and I found during the disco era, I could sing all the girl parts. Then I got into a car accident and severed my vocal chords. I could barely talk for years. Because I lost my ability to sing like that, I focused on different aspects of the guitar. Over the years, it made me take different things up on the guitar. I'm a fan of other instruments, so I like to experiment with sound. Over the years, I've really reconnected with that.

You are an incredibly eclectic musician who can play a variety of styles on a variety of instruments. Comment on how that adds to the spontaneous, improvisational nature of your music.

It just gives me different ideas of what things can sound like. That's almost as important as a musical note. The first time I heard Downward Spiral, those sounds reminded me of the first time I heard Led Zeppelin II. I was like, what the what hell this shit? It's like nothing I've ever heard before. It's the same way with avant garde or Coltrane.

You grew up in a pretty conservative household that initially didn't take your pursuit of music very well. Has your success changed that at all?

Oh yeah. We've long since buried that hatchet. My dad grew up in a fundamentalist scene. And he was in Vietnam. It kind of freaked him out when I got into this hippie music. But over the years he's come to realize that they sent him to bogus, bullshit war. He respects now that I'm making money.

Why move out to Sante Fe, N.M.?

It's like paradise. I'd been in Charlottesville 15 years. Coming from the Midest, that seemed exotic. But since '93, I've been going out there to see friends. I used to always say, "I want to move here someday." It's sunny almost all the time. It definitely has an effect on the mindset. Every day, I wake up, and it's like a sunny summer day. Even in winter, in the heat of the day, I can go in my back yard in a t-shirt and have a cup of coffee. It's nice and so pleasant.