by Scott Sechman
October 2, 2020
Before I arrived on the Outer Banks, I knew that Tim Reynolds, the guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band, lived and played here with his band, TR3. Being a California musical snob, I wondered what could have possibly brought an internationally renowned guitarist to this tiny strip of beach off the North Carolina mainland? After I moved here, that question was rendered moot. I knew.
What I didn’t know was that a couple of local guys were his band members. I discovered that when I went to the Outer Banks Brewing Station one night and caught part of their show. Since then, Reynolds relocated to Florida, but his connection to the Outer Banks remains strong. TR3’s drummer, Dan Martier, lives here still, and Reynolds did a solo livestream fundraiser for the Dare County Arts Council in late May. He participated in “Music Unites Us,” a benefit concert supporting the art council’s North Carolina Veterans Songwriting Workshop.
I caught up with Reynolds by phone in March. The topics ranged widely and wildly. From the COVID-19 pandemic, which was just taking hold here in the U.S., to his Martin guitars, and his early collaborations with Dave Matthews.
What has been the hardest part of dealing with the pandemic?
This COVID-19, we’re still all in a state of shock that this is actually happening. Can’t do anything. Wait it out. Stay home. Stay healthy. Wash my hands and just practice a lot. It helps me feel normal. I play a lot of guitar, as you can imagine.
What have you been doing during the shutdown?
Part of my existence is thinking about COVID for some of the day, but not all day. You can look at your phone all day until your brain explodes with all the information, so my general rule is get your information and try to stay updated, but I’m not gonna look at TV all day with CNN on, that’s for sure.
Have you started or completed any projects?
I was getting ready to rehearse for an acoustic tour, so I’m a man in rehearsal. I practice like crazy. So, I was already in this routine. It feels weird not to have to practice for something. But I still wanted to learn some covers and write some music. So, I had this tour coming up. But now, I have six months to write and hopefully, play again.
What concerns you going ahead?
There’s an old Buddhist saying, “Be ready for death … it’s the first thing you know is gonna happen.” It’s just a reality now. It’s just a crazy situation. I guess crazy isn’t the right word. There’s a massive unpreparedness, in general. Nobody ever thinks about something like this happening and it takes everybody by surprise. Then a certain amount of people don’t think it’s real. They think it’s a conspiracy and use that as an excuse to say, “(screw) it,” you know?
When you play solo gigs, do you use a looper? (Note: a looper is a device that allows a musician to record music in real time and then play it back during a performance; it often fattens or enriches the sound.)
I use a looper sometimes, but mostly I just play songs. What I’ve been doing the last couple of years is I set up three or four different times in a night where I’ll just do a little looping. Mostly as a transition between songs because I really just like to play music. And I did more looping before they had looping machines that looped in time. So, I don’t really use a looper that plays in time. I like the challenge of trying to make it work by just dialing in the thing. Because it’s also fun just to be ambient. But mostly I just practice the songs, learn new stuff, and try to develop this style that I’ve been working on a long time. It’s just what I do. I’m good at playing bass, but I also play guitar. A lot of my solo stuff has bass lines and melodies. My solo record was just acoustic straight up, recorded at Ed Tupper’s Nags Head apartment.
What kind of guitar do you use?
I use a Martin D35. I have two of them. One always stays with Dave. The first one I got, I cracked it, right after because I was trying to do all that ”making sounds” by hitting the body of the guitar. Because I can play drums and I cracked it. So, I said, “Well, I’ll leave that to the guitar players that do that all the time. I’ll just go back to playing the guitar.” Now if I do anything like that, it’s very soft. (Laughs). You can take a slide and just whack the bridge and it’s really loud and you don’t have to hit it very hard. You get a really big click or just hit it with the palm of your hand softly and you get a “poof.”
But the cracked one is actually in great shape because it doesn’t go on tours in a van like my other one. I got the second one because I had to send the cracked one to the factory. So, it sounds the best of all my Martins. I got it in ’95. Not super old, but it’s kind of getting to a sweet spot, sound-wise. I have another one that I use and have taken it out on my solo tours, since ’96. It looks like moon craters on the face of it, from making weird sounds. I used to wonder, “Why does this moon crap keep happening on this guitar?” Then I realized, “Oh, it’s you trying to make this loud bass note sound by whacking the guitar really hard. I’m the one who did that.”
How did you come to play with Dave Matthews?
A long, long time ago, Dave worked at a place called Miller’s in Charlottesville (Virginia) and I used to play there every Monday night. He started bartending. That’s how we met. He was also doing a lot of theater at the time. He was like a local star in theater. He already had a following, as it were. We hung out one night and went in his basement, ate cookies and recorded (stuff). I thought, “Wow, this guy is really musical.” He didn’t even play guitar at the time. Well, he did, but I didn’t hear him play guitar. We were just messing around with drum machines, making weird, spontaneous recordings just for the fun of it. The first thing he did on an instrument, he played the piano. I was like, “Damn. It’s like Paul McCartney.” When he started the Dave Matthews Band, I said, “Oh, he plays guitar, too!” That was about mid to late ‘80s in Charlottesville. I didn’t know anything about drum machines, but I wanted to go hang out with him because I knew he did. He knew how to mess with one. So, we made some recordings and it was really a lot of fun. That’s kind of what started our musical friendship.
Even though you recently moved, you’re still strongly associated with the Outer Banks. How did it happen that you came to live here?
About 13 years ago, my partner at the time moved to North Carolina, so I moved, too.. I played there before, years and years ago. In the ‘80s. So, I knew about the place. I really wasn’t that much into beaches. But it was good, and that’s when I started playing with DMB more full time. But up until that year, 2007 or 2008, I’d only done one brief, couple-of-months tour with the band and then just only played with Dave. I recorded on all of their earlier records up until 2008, and we started doing all this when I moved back to the East Coast. It just seemed like a good fit to start doing that.
How did you hook up with Dan Martier for TR3?
A friend of mine got us together because I was looking for some musicians to play with when I moved to the Outer Banks. I was doing solo gigs. I started doing electric solo gigs with a drum machine. It was really just a very simple machine. Bass and drums called “Rhythm Tracks” by Zoom, which was almost as easy as working a cassette player. You just had to work out how to sequence the bars. Which I spent a couple years way into that thing because I’m a closet drum nut, so to be able to play drums was really cool. So that was a peak for me. I also realized this is fun and it’s a listening experience, but visually you stand on stage and press a button and you’re playing something you created, but there’s no air being moved except for the guitar. But, as soon as I did one gig with Mick (Mick Vaughn, bassist for TR3) and Dan, I think it was the second gig, we recorded it. I started listening back to it going, “Listen to all this music that’s not coming from a machine!”
Transplanted to the Outer Banks from the wilds of the L.A. area, singer-songwriter Scott Sechman has shared stages with Bill Medley, Tom Rush, Al Wilson and the Grass Roots during his ongoing music career. He has also contributed to Mojo and various online outlets.