Tim Reynolds (Dave Matthews Band / TR3) announces new charitable single “GUARDIAN ANGELS” FEATURING Nikki Glaspie (The Nth Power, ex Beyoncé, Kamani) OUT 9/24 ON COMMUNITYZ RECORDZ (communityzrecordz.com)
(cover photo by Andre Mota)
Tim Reynolds, two-time Grammy nominated composer / performer and guitarist for the Dave Matthews Band, in conjunction with the non-profit record label, CommunityZ RecordZ, is proud to announce the release of his new single, Guardian Angels, featuring Nikki Glaspie (ex Beyoncé, The Nth Power, Maceo Parker, Kamani) on drums and percussion. On September 24th, the single will be exclusively available for purchase (not on any streaming platforms) but only on the CommunityZ RecordZ official pages (links below), with 100% of proceeds going to support the Charlottesville Public Housing Association of Residents (PHAR-CVille). PHAR’s mission is to educate and empower low-income residents of Charlottesville, VA–a town undergoing sweeping cultural changes–with the ability to protect and improve their community through collective action. The organization is dedicated to advocating for and working closely with public housing residents and is entirely governed by public housing residents and one Section 8 resident.
Tim’s partnership with CommunityZ RecordZ allows him to give back to his former hometown where his musical journey began, as well as contribute an earnest effort to protect the integrity of Charlottesville, a diverse and evolving community that acts in parallel and in reflection to the rest of the country, if not the world. The mission of CommunityZ RecordZ is to connect artists with their formative roots and save the world one song, one artist, one community at a time. Rarely does the moment meet the music, but in this case, and especially in this time, it felt imperative to ensure that it does.
“I feel incredibly lucky to even be able to support a group like PHAR, and that they exist in a town that is forever dear to my heart. As far as the chance to work with someone of the musical caliber of Nikki Glaspie, I couldn’t jump fast enough,” states Reynolds.
Musically, Guardian Angels began as a track that Reynolds recorded on a four track at his home. CommunityZ RecordZ, the brainchild of Will Bradford (SeepeopleS, theWorst, RascalZ RecordZ) and music artist Sparxsea with board members from the American Special Hockey Association and Payback, as well as Nikki Glaspie herself who serves on the advisory board, had expressed interest in releasing a collaborative song for charity. Reynolds had known Bradford from years of touring and recording together, and with artists, musicians, and activists connected during the covid lockdown of 2020, the project and mission were born. This collective vision to help make artists and their music essential again via the direct support of a grassroots support charity, will perhaps offer a more meaningful way for musicians, audiences, and communities to interact and co-exist.
Upon collaboration with Nikki Glaspie, Tim’s song took on a new life and became the rare unreleased gem that is now Guardian Angels. The song was lovingly edited, mixed, and mastered by Will Holland (Pixies, Dead Can Dance) at Chillhouse Studios in Boston, MA. The accompanying music video, filmed and edited by Sparxsea (drone footage by Andrew Doody) features scenes from the removal of Confederate statues in the former heart and soul of the confederacy, a seminal event of this past summer in Charlottesville. It is fascinating to think that Reynolds recorded the original composition long before he and Glaspie so accurately captured the uncertain, cautious, but strong and hopeful emotions surrounding this important juncture in time…as well as ambitions and aspirations felt by the residents of Charlottesville, a city that has become ground zero for the racial reckoning across America. This is literally a city changing before our eyes.
We were very fortunate to catch up with Tim Reynolds for this exclusive interview.
Tell me about Charlottesville- what’s it like to be there, and what is the origin and history of your connection to C’ville?
Well, I have a big history there. I lived there from 1981 to 1997, and not only did I just live there, it changed my world view quite radically. I came from St. Louis, where I prepared to be a jazz guitarist, and I built my life around that dream, but I really couldn’t get work there. I just wanted to get out of St. Louis ‘because I grew up there, and I moved to Charlottesville really not knowing anyone, or anyone in the music scene there. But when I got there, it really opened my world spiritually and intellectually. I was so lucky that the people I surrounded myself with from day one was such loving and caring people. I met the whole band (DMB) in the first month I was there. I was still really trying to play Jazz, but when I first got to town, it really seemed like everyone was playing rock and blues. One of my friends told me about a jazz workshop in town and I went to it and met Carter and LeRoi Moore. It wasn’t long before they called me to audition for their band Cosmology, so I ended up at their place out in the country and we had one of those epic jams, like one of those close your eyes and 45 minutes later you’re like “What Just Happened? That was so cool!” After that, I started gigging with them, and it was just amazing to play with this band that was just so amazingly good. Just out of this world good!
So, for the record then, Carter and LeRoi were the first DMB members you met in town?
Yea, and with Carter, he and I used to play a billion jazz wedding gigs together. Both really plugged me into the scene. Cosmology had started in New York City, I’m not sure they were called that at the time, but they had played with cats like John Abercrombie and John Scofield, so for me that was, like, a big deal. It really piqued my interest and so I was like “let me be in your band!” Being in that band, which was so improv based, I sowed my musical roots then. That rhythm section sort of ended up being the original TR3, and instead of being a jazz band, we would rock out to James Brown and Bob Marley.
Must ask, did Carter or LeRoi introduce you to Dave? How exactly did that really happen?
No, Dave and I met in the 80s. He was the bartender at Miller’s where we all used to jam together on Mondays, and well, many many other days of the week. Over the years of playing there, I did notice the new bartender who was way cool. I immediately made friends with him, talking about music. I didn’t drink much booze, never really have, but after the gigs me, LeRoi and Carter would just hang with Dave at the bar. He was this popular guy already, he had these theater people and friends from the theater, so he was already a to do guy in a way. Eventually we ended up hanging at his house after one of the Monday gigs. I didn’t really know much about his musical abilities yet, but we went there and he had this drum machine I was curious about. We started out just jamming and playing along with the drum machine, and at the end of the night he was like, “let me play you this song I wrote on the piano,” and it sounded like something Paul McCartney would write, this fully formed piece of music with lyrics and melody, and I was like, “Oh, holy shit, you’re, like, a bad ass.” He was already the best actor in town, and he had all these skills, he could play, he could sing, he could dance, he was and has always been the real deal.
So, essentially you are describing this young bartender watching his future band, scoping them out, putting the plan together to get you all on stage together?
Ha! Yea, I guess it took him awhile, but essentially yes!
You’ve described a Charlottesville, especially back in the day, that is vibrant and happening, so I must ask, how does Charlottesville look to you now compared to the Charlottesville you landed in in 1981?
Besides the fact that in the downtown mall there are all these buildings, whereas before there were none- but not much has really changed. From seeing it grow over the years, it’s still a little town that has its sweetness. I think it has grown up and matured since I lived here, and even though it was attacked by fascists, it survived, and we took down their symbols, so I think Charlottesville is stronger and more beautiful than ever before. I think it’s easy to say things like “back in the day” and “bla bla bla,” but those are things that old people say (laughing). I know some of the players, even some that I did used to play with “back in the day,” they all say it’s better than ever, more happening than even way back then. But of course, along with all the big buildings and developments, and the same gentrification happening, well, everywhere quite frankly, I think the heart of Cville, which is its diversity–this really is a collection of races and peoples from all over the world really–of course it becomes threatened. Change is in the air all over this town, obviously, and it’s not just happening in the downtown mall.
Is this the reason for supporting a charity for public housing?
Seeing Charlottesville go through so much in the past few years, with the events that made the news for all the wrong reasons, it didn’t look like the Charlottesville I lived in, or the town I have known for years. I always felt safe in this town, always! Charlottesville has always been so diverse, it’s why a multiracial band like DMB made complete sense, as far as having started in a place like this. What I watched in the news wasn’t the town I knew, in fact I’m pretty sure that most of the people who turned this town upside down never even lived in it, ever! To be able to get back to the town, and to protect what I consider its biggest strength, its’ heart, which is its diversity . Especially after the events of a few years that were so shocking and heartbreaking – to try to keep Charlottesville, diverse and different, is more than a valid reason for me to support PHAR-C. I know whatever money we can raise to support them is going back to help this community and to help keep it a place where not just rich people get to live. Doing this with a great community-based aid charity like PHAR-C–that is as “for the people” and “by the people” as it gets–this was an easy project to get behind, and an easy decision to support them.
You seem to know a few good drummers! How did the collaboration with Nikki come about? How did you get connected with CommunityZ RecordZ, and of course, what’s it like to play on a song with Nikki?
I met Will (Bradford) from SeepeopleS- Founder of the label– in 2002 or 2003. SeepeopleS and I were on the same agency and Will and I toured together many times over the years, both solo and with our bands. During Covid we caught up and he told me about his new vision for a non-profit record label and asked me if I’d consider donating an unreleased song of mine to charity. Guardian Angels, in its first incarnation, had no drums on it. I recorded it fifteen years ago on my four-track cassette player when I lived in Santa Fe, NM. While I was there, I kept myself busy making these, like, fantasy albums for myself, i.e., audience of one! Guardian Angels was one of the songs I made for one of these personal-fantasy albums. I had sent Will a slew of material to be considered for release, most of the songs were just demos I had made with drum machines and such. Ironically, Angels sounded better without the drum machine, so for fifteen years it just lay dormant as an instrumental tune with no drums that I had made on a cassette tape for myself. Will liked the tune, and thought maybe Nikki, a friend of his, would consider playing on it. She had the ability to record herself during the pandemic, and the entire project was done remotely. After Nikki added her tracks, the song had wings, and feet, and legs, and a spirit that really soared. When I first heard her first takes on the track, and especially as I had only known the song as it was on my cassette player, I was honestly emotionally moved. It had become something entirely new, something beautiful.
It was also amazing that in these days, technologically speaking and such, that a song could even be recorded this way. Because of Covid, I’ve still never even gotten to really meet and hang with Nikki. I saw her play once, when we played a festival with Dumpstaphunk. I was thinking, if this girl is sitting in that drum throne with the likes of these cats, she must be the real deal. I watched the set and was utterly blown away with her drumming. When this chance to have her on the song was presented to me, I jumped, and I’m just glad she was moved enough to do it, because it made all the difference with this song. Her playing is so dynamic but also delicate in the song. I had sort of a Brazilian plus Latin rhythm thing going on in the song, and she essentially nailed both simultaneously in the drums and percussion performance. It was fascinating to experience a real musical exchange, virtually, and remotely, with this other person from afar, but it was magic still, and that was really fulfilling, especially during the Covid lockdown. In the end I think we made a great recording together. Equally fulfilling, was hearing the mixes after we sent them to Will Holland at Chillhouse Studios, where Will records with SeepeopleS. Will Holland was able to mix and edit the song so it really felt like we had made it in the room together, and at the same time. Pretty unreal considering the song was essentially recorded on a four track fifteen years ago, brought to life with modern digital recording, recorded at different locations by different people on different gear, and then ultimately finished in a recording studio miles away from my home.
…And now we have this NEW song, Guardian Angels. Before it became what it is today, what did it mean when you wrote it?
The term guardian angel is a perfect metaphor for things happening when and how you want them. I love the idea of helping people, or that something is helping you, but I think that that is really a feeling, and this feeling, it’s called faith–faith is a feeling. It’s something for me that I don’t need to try and define. I don’t need angry gods shoved down my throat and the universe fulfill all the roles of any and every deity with all the help and support anyone could need, it exists out there. But these feelings of faith, they are necessary to counter feelings of fear and hatred. Guardian Angels is about this feeling, this sense of spiritual self-preservation, this faith, undefined and true.
Going back to the writing process, and with regards to all your songs, how much are drums and percussion a part of your writing process-?
I write almost everything to drums in my head, I beat-box to everything, all the time! I’m always hearing drums and even when I ‘m playing solo, and writing by myself, it informs everything I do musically. I’m a closet drummer, who, because of getting to play with people like Nikki and Carter, fully realizes how much more work I must do (laughing)!
When a lick comes to mind, perhaps while writing alone, is your default to wonder how to place it in a Dave Matthews song? Or is it more likely that you are stashing it for something in your own project?
Having worked with Dave for a long time–he always comes with plenty of ideas, for all the parts. Sometimes he brings songs to the table that are more formed than other, and sometimes it’s early in the process when we flesh out the ideas. Ever since he has access to studios regularly over the past decade, many of the songs start as demos of just him and Carter. Sometimes these demos sound like finished songs, sometimes less so, but generally, they are quite realized already by the time any of the rest of us get to them.
When LeRoi passed during the recording of Groo Grux King, that record was a bit different in how we normally record DMB records. That album was sort of crafted from live jams that we did as a band. Producer Rob Cavallo extracted segments of all sorts of live improv we did in the studio, and the album was arranged and formed from taking parts, sometimes snippets, and piecing them together. We certainly did a lot more playing live as a band together on that album, and it felt like something we all needed to do after LeRoi passed early in the process of recording it.
Speaking of “live,” How does your on-stage rig compare with what you might use for equipment in a recording session?
It’s bigger (laughs).
Is there any new technology informing the writing or creative process now?
I’m pretty old school and analog. What I love about DMB is the human connection. Sure, there is lots of production and electric pedals and electric instrumentation, but it’s always humans behind the wheels that make them turn. Nothing compares to real human interaction, the exchange between musicians when playing together. I love all gadgets, and I love sounds, and like I said before, if you have a drum machine, well, yes, I am curious about it. At the end of the day though–I wanna play!!! I wanna bend strings!!!
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