Renowned guitarist and multi-faceted musician Tim Reynolds has earned a significant degree of popularity in the past by playing and recording alongside Dave Matthews Band. However, with his new two-disc solo release Parallel Universe, Reynolds has established a place for himself in the music industry as a musician capable of more than just acoustic accompaniment. Recently, I spoke with Tim over the phone to discuss his new release and his upcoming tour.
The second disc of Parallel Universe is entitled Invisible Pagan Underdogs. What’s the significance of your titles?
I like to read about physics and that idea about literal parallel universes. The whole album is also kind of parallel – when [there’s] one flow of music, and then another that’s different, but it’s still kind of a flow. It’s parallel in the sense that it’s just music. With the second one, I’ve always just liked those words together. I used to actually have a band called that briefly. With a different title, it’s a different expectation. They both allude to something you can’t see, which is basically music.
Why did you choose to make your upcoming tour strictly acoustic when there’s so much else on the new album?
For the last three or four years, I’ve been doing a lot with drum machines in the show. It’s a challenge to step out of the high-tech aspect of it and do music without it. I thought I’d just step back from the intensity a little bit, and try to create the intensity without that.
What covers can we expect you to play?
Led Zeppelin sometimes, Peter Gabriel, some Deep Purple and James Brown – maybe not all in one show though. I’m always trying to learn new ones.
You recently went on the Dave and Friends Caribbean Cruise. How was it, getting to play at that venue?
It’s a very exotic setting; it was surreal where it was. The gig was the most far-out thing. We did a sound check/rehearsal, so we already played about an hour, if not more, during the afternoon. Then we played an hour and a half, or so, before rain stopped the show. We played until three in the morning at different times.
What is the dynamic like, collaborating with Dave Matthews and Trey Anastasio?
Well, being in bands [through] many stages in my life since the ’70s, I’ve gone into so many bands … that it’s like a little tribe. The first time you get together, you just feel everyone’s vibe out, and now it’s normal.
You started playing electric bass at age twelve. Why bass?
It’s the instrument that I used to understand music internally … I had my Uncle Bill that lived in our house, and he played guitar all day – it drove my mom crazy. He taught me how to play “Hear My Train A Comin'” and “These Boots Are Made For Walkin'”. I would hang out with him and, since he played guitar, we would play simple bass parts, and that’s what gave me the idea to play bass. The bands I was into were Grand Funk and Led Zeppelin – they had amazing bass players. I started taking music theory classes in high school and it came right as I was understanding it on my own. [I took the] class from a guy I respected, he was a jazz pianist and he was a cool teacher. He was like a mentor and, in a way, he was my first guru.
If you weren’t playing music professionally, what would you do instead?
I’d probably be studying the Tibetan Book of the Dead up in Tibet. It’s really fascinating and beautiful. It’s more about liberation and what Buddhism is about and it’s kind of the penultimate literature in the subject. It deals with what happens when you die and when you go into the dream state of afterlife. It’s like the ultimate piece of music to learn – I keep reading it over and over and slowly absorb more of it.
If you could collaborate with any artist, dead or alive, who would you chose?
Peter Gabriel. I think of the music that I like that goes back to the earliest music … and that moved me tremendously, and I think … Early Genesis, Peter Gabriel’s solo work. At this point in his career, he doesn’t seem like the most cutting-edge guy, but in the long arc of musical history, he’s cutting-edge in that he’s able to go deep inside and make you feel such serious shit.
Tim Reynolds will be playing at the UCIMC (Urbana-Champaign Independent Music Center) on Saturday, Feb. 18th. Check out a review of his new album on page 9.