TR3 - The Left Hand of Darkness
TR3 - On This Mountain Born in Clouds

Friday, October 22, 1999

Courtesy of Tim Reynolds Rap Tim C. Davis / Creative Loafing, Charlotte 10/22/99 5:23:51 PM

What will be Tim Reynolds' lasting musical legacy? Appearing on most every Dave Matthews Band album, perhaps, even prompting Matthews himself to call Reynolds "my main musical influence"? Perhaps it's his pyrotechnic guitar displays, which draw raves from guitarists everywhere -- one reviewer noted that "it sounds like Reynolds is playing with two sets of hands." One might also note his respected-elder status in Charlottesville, VA, where he helped start one of the more unlikely creative music scenes in recent memory.

I'd say its turning ol' Dave on to Marilyn Manson.

"It's not something he chooses to do everyday, but I've sat in the back of buses with him and listened to Nine Inch Nails and Marilyn Manson and he's totally into it," say Reynolds, burping and coughing after what sounds like a long night out, from his home in Sante Fe, New Mexico.

Reynolds' music apart from Matthews tends to be heavy as well, leading a power trio into sonic explorations that, while not easily pigeonholed, definitely qualify as "heavy," in one way or another.

Reynolds' latest CD, Astral Projection, has him sampling freely from a wide buffet, wielding his guitar as a fork. Part Meat Puppets, part Hendrix, and part Nine Inch Nails, it may come as a shock to those who know Reynolds mainly for his association with Matthews.

"We don't really sit around and talk about what we think of each other's music," says Reynoldss. "We kind of work so much in the mode of playful co-existence. I know he appreciates what we're doing now -- he's friends with the guys that I play with and has known them for years, and Dave and I are such good friends I don't even think about what he thinks of my music. We all work in the medium of music so deeply that we don't even think about those things. It's just something we do like (eating) or breathing."

Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, Reynolds is the son of a military man. His parents, Pentecostal and fiercely conservative, moved a lot as a result -- from Alaska to St. Louis and throughout much of the Midwest, spending time in both the Bible and Rust Belts.

He began playing electric bass at age 12 in front of the twisting hordes of parishioners, usually three or four days a week. This continued until he graduated from high school, by which time he had played over 1,000 shows, all of them "sold out," by Reynolds' way of thinking.

"Obviously, I started to rebel against it," he says. Reynolds admits, however, that playing in front of these people taught him a lot about the power of music, and, ironically, started him questioning a lot of beliefs he had about both the church and himself. "I was talking to my wife about that just the other day," he laughs. "People in those (church services) just give it up, and let it all go. After awhile, every time I performed, I would just let it all go, completely. It taught me that that's the whole point of performing -- these people go to church to get some serious experience out of it. They let their bodies go completely -- speaking in tongues and all that shit. These churches had a serious rockin' vibe, ironically.

The voices and speaking in tongues and preaching was very mantra-like, actually," Reynolds continues. "When I studied Eastern (religions), it dawned on me how musical the whole skit was, as it were. The preacher would just bone you with this repetitious note all night -- drill you with this note, and then hit you with the relief at the end. It was rock & roll as ritual. Certain sounds just work together to cause an almost involuntary reaction. I'm sure there's people that know the science well enough to be evil with it. It can be used right and it can be used wrong."

Deciding to learn the "science" as well as he could, Reynolds would often secretly obtain records, usually jazz and psychedelic rock. He was drawn to what he terms the "blackness" of certain performers: either literally, such as the music of Sly & the Family Stone and Jimi Hendrix, or metaphorically, as in the mysterious swirl of bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath.

At the age of 18, Reynolds left home to join a group of instrumental musicians, and after some wandering both musically and geographically, settled in the progressive little burg of Charlottesville, Virginia. "Coming into Charlottesville, it just looked like the cutest, sweetest little town in the world. I didn't want to live in the Midwest anymore, either -- the music scene for me was just nothing (there). I started meeting people in Charlottesville that were really into writing their own music. Moving there literally opened me up and told me it was all right to do my own thing. Then, as now, you couldn't really say Charlottesville was a 'blah blah blah' scene, a one genre town," Reynolds says. "That's probably what a lot of people get out of the Dave Matthews Band. If anything, they sort of represent the eclecticism of what's going on there. When I first arrived, there were lots of blues bands and country bands, but there was also this group who would mix musics and styles and not worry so much about the boundaries, who were the people I got in with. I think that's the way it should be done. Everybody's an individual, and has something to add, their own personal world view to express (through music)."

Reynolds doesn't seem to mind that many people will probably show up at a given gig because of his close association with Matthews -- Dave's his friend, after all, and Reynolds is confident they can find the same energy and eclecticism if they're willing to be open-minded. In fact, when questioned, Reynolds agrees that fame such as Matthews enjoys (?) would probably seem like just one more authority figure putting the clamps on his soul.

"I only realize those things at my age now. When I was a lot younger, I probably wouldn't have been able to see that as clear. I would probably treat that kind of fame and fortune, because it's so time-consuming, as another type of authority. That's why I don't tour (with the Dave Matthews Band). Just about any band I've ever been in I've quit, except for my band," he laughs. "By not coming into the Dave Matthews Band, I'm always there when they record and for the acoustic tours -- I do my own thing, and then when the time comes, its a really sweet side gig. It's just hard for me to stay in one place."

Indeed, Reynolds compares the "always on the run" aspect of moving around to his musical explorations, where his life informs his music and vice versa. "It's like a book," he says. "While you're reading it, you have to believe it's true to get something out of it. It's the same with religions and music. In order to get out of it what you need to, you totally have to give yourself up to the moment. It's almost like a metaphor in a way -- it's a personal education to move around and place yourself in different situations, and music isn't really any different."