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Dave Matthews collaborator Tim Reynolds in St. Charles tonight

Later tonight, I'll be heading over to the Arcada Theatre in downtown St. Charles to see Tim Reynolds and TR3 – along with local duo Beautiful Collision and Jamie Lono from season two of NBC's "The Voice."

Reynolds is a current touring member of the Dave Matthews Band and has been involved in four of the band's seven studio albums. In addition, he was in the studio with the band earlier this year working on a forthcoming DMB album.

I'll have a recap of the show later this week here on the blog, but for those last minute stragglers, here's an interview I conducted two weeks ago with Reynolds about tonight's St. Charles show, how his band TR3 came to be, and his experiences working in the studio this year with Dave Matthews Band.

• • •

Tim Reynolds on new Dave Matthews Band album, playing with TR3

Originally published Thursday, April 5, 2012

ST. CHARLES – Guitar virtuoso Tim Reynolds and his band TR3 are heading to St. Charles for a show at the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., in St. Charles on April 17.

Reynolds, a long-time Dave Matthews Band collaborator, was in the recording studio with DMB earlier this year and is set to go out on a lengthy summer tour with the Grammy-winners beginning in May, including two stops on July 6-7 at Alpine Valley Music Theatre in East Troy, Wis.

But first, Reynolds and his trio are finishing up a spring tour that sees them playing their only Chicago-area date in St. Charles.

Tickets are on sale now at www.oshows.com and range in price from $19-$49. Doors will open at 7 p.m. with the concert beginning at 8 p.m.

Opening acts include duo Beautiful Collision and Jamie Lono, from season two of NBC’s “The Voice.”

In 2009, TR3 released “Radiance,” the band’s first CD from this line-up of musicians. A live album, “From SPACE and Beyond,” was released last year and features the musicians performing in front of a live audience.

The guitarist and vocalist took a few minutes out of his day to talk about TR3, the Dave Matthews Band recording sessions and even Katy Perry.

Kane County Chronicle: You seem to come to the Chicago area often with TR3. Do you enjoy playing to crowds here?

Tim Reynolds: I started playing Chicago in the 1970s. It’s one of the great cities in this country. It’s just happening, very vibrant.

You covered “Wild Country,” a tune by Chris Whitley, on “Radiance.” How did that come about and did you ever perform live with him?

I’ve always been a fan of his music. When I lived in New Mexico and heard that song for the first time, I though, “wow, that’s deep country.” It’s always been close to my heart.

As for how it made the album, it was the last day we were recording “Radiance,” and I told my band members, “let me show you this simple song.” And then we spent the last day recording it. What a great song. The combination of his voice and his guitar playing is just magic.

Around the same time you came on board full-time with DMB in 2008, TR3 was rejuvenated. How did you find the musicians for this version of TR3? And why did you decide to bring the band back?

Well, the original idea was to play with live musicians. We all kind of knew each other. We had friends in common. I had just moved and was playing some solo acoustic shows around town – with my drum machines.

I saw Dan [Martier] play locally with a really awesome singer/songwriter. Martier and Mick [Vaughn] had played together a long time. So, we played our first gig together as a rehearsal at my house. We did some covers and older TR3 songs.

A reformed TR3 wasn’t really an idea I was thinking of. I had a gig that I had booked as a solo performance with my drum machine. I said, “well, let me just drop that and play with real people and have fun.” And it just started with that. They are super sweet and great musicians – it was great to hook up with them.

Starting in December 2007 and January 2008 we started touring.  Before we went on tour, we were trying to come up with a new name. As we were kind of thinking names, someone said, “why don’t you just call it TR3?” (Tim Reynolds had a band called TR3 in the 1990s.) It wasn’t like we were regurgitating the same idea. People will remember that name even if it’s not the same people. Sometimes we call ourselves The Dark Lords of Jacques Ridge – it was just kind of a joke in jest. TR3 is easier. It’s really more about the music and whatever the name is, it’s OK. I’m a big fan of awesome band names.

Like what?

Bon Iver – that’s a cool name. I’m a fan of going to towns and looking at the creative band names playing in the area. There’s always some people cooking up crazy names for bands.

Obviously you play different venues with TR3 and with Dave Matthews Band. Plus, you’re a true frontman with TR3. How do those experiences differ?

It’s probably different because it’s a different set of music. You can really see the people playing in smaller venues. It’s different in some ways, but over time, when you get on stage it’s just a different comfort level. Obviously with DMB, it’s larger venues and there’s not a lot of pressure on me.

But it’s cool to have one foot in that door but another foot in the door of playing clubs and having that intimacy.

You were in the studio with Dave Matthews Band and producer Steve Lillywhite earlier this year. What was it like working with Lillywhite again? What can you tell me about how the sessions went? (Tim Reynolds was a part of the first three DMB albums in the 1990s that Steve Lillywhite produced.)

It was awesome. We just got done working on it during the first two months of this year. He is a great producer and a great person to work with. I think people are going to be really happy with it. It’s going to be a very good, sweet feel-good kind of thing.

Lillywhite doesn’t even party but you'd think he did – it was such a great experience.

How much contribution did you have to the new songs?

I think, for the most part, Dave [Matthews] came in with a pretty fleshed out idea. Each new day, everyone kind of learns that song. And then we’d record it and play it.

[The band’s last album, “Big Whiskey and the GrooGrux King,”] started as jams and then Rob Cavallo (producer of “Big Whiskey”) sifted through the music to find the good jam moments and then we took a closer look at those.

This time, Dave had these songs pretty fleshed out. It almost doesn’t matter what process we do – as soon as you start playing, things start happening. At the end, everyone added their own extra parts. If Lillywhite was looking for a certain kind of guitar chord, he’d yell out a certain guitar players. For one song, he was like, “Pink Floyd,” and then I did that. It was great fun to work like that. (Reynolds also mentioned The Edge and Jimi Hendrix.)

For this album, we’ve been playing together constantly for the last few years. For the last album, I was out on tour a lot with TR3 and wasn’t around as much. Sometimes, I would come back and had not heard the songs.

The music is all done but there are still some lyrics to write and mixing to do.

The styles of music vary greatly between TR3 and DMB. Is it easy to switch over as you’ve been known to do?

If I’ve been on the road, I’ll definitely shred on the those tunes, reprogramming my mind to play those tunes. With so much the last couple of years, I’m really neurotic with what’s coming next. I’m always practicing some kind of tune for whatever is the next project – whether it’s DMB, TR3 or something on my own.

TR3’s most recent CD is “From SPACE and Beyond,” a live compilation of tunes recorded during recent tours. Do you feel this best represents what TR3 is all about?

We kind of took the best of songs and recreated one of our live sets – at least two hours worth. It was fun to just sit on it for awhile. After we recorded it, I went out with DMB for a couple years. Last year, we really brought in a focus on finishing it.

Now, we hope to start recording a new studio album before the next DMB tour. We have a lot of newer tunes and now there’s enough to start a record with.

As for these shows, we still play plenty of the music that is on the live CD – it definitely gives you a taste of what we’re about. We aren’t a band where everyone knows all of our music. It’s always exciting to play a cover – especially to hear the crowd say, “I never thought they would do that song.” For example, “Hocus Pocus.” We played it one night as kind of a dare. Some of the covers are like that. When I do covers, I don’t make it sound exactly like the record.

What do you like doing more, writing and recording in the studio – either with DMB or TR3 – or performing live?

It’s all part of a larger package. I’ve learned to appreciate all of it. The studio is great because it’s in a controlled environment. Live is great because it’s not a controlled environment. You take things from each experience. It’s all part of the general musical reality. It’s hard to say what my preference is. I know that traveling is an enriching experience.

You’re a 2011 Grammy-nominated artist for your song “Kundalini Bonfire” from the Dave Matthews & Tim Reynolds “Live in Las Vegas 2009” CD. How did that feel to be nominated?

It felt really great. I felt like there was no way I was going to win it, though. I was really honored to lose to that guy [Jeff Beck] and I was glad he got it. I went to the Grammy’s that year only because I took my daughter. We went on the red carpet the year before [2010] with DMB and performed. So in 2011, I just went as a regular person – there was a lot less socializing and it was great. I really wanted to take my daughter to experience it – and she also loves Katy Perry. We’ve gone to see one, no, wait, two Katy Perry concerts. She’s a great performer and a ridiculous singer and I see why she’s where she is.

Do you try to make each solo different when performing live?

Generally it really is a lot of improv. You try to keep it something similar at times but usually it’s pretty spontaneous. With TR3, you can stretch them out in a lot of different areas.

What’s your favorite song to play live?

My favorite song to play is “Natural Mystic” – one of the first songs TR3 ever played. It’s a simple little song, by Bob Marley. I don’t play it much any more, though.

Why not?

Probably because I played it all my life. It’s a quiet and powerful song.

What about your favorite DMB track to solo on?

It changes every night. I could say #41. It’s almost like the moment during a gig that dictates what that’s going to be.

• Mike Van Der Harst is the features editor of the Kane County Chronicle. “The Second Row” will feature coverage of arts and entertainment events throughout the area. Contact him at 630-845-5233 or mvanderharst@shawmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MikeVDH1.

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