Caught 'Em in Autumn
Up against the wall, local scene
As Hurricane Rita bore down on Houston in the wake of Katrina in 2005, Randy Reynolds packed his car with two suitcases and his guitar and evacuated, leaving behind his hometown and the debris of a broken four-month marriage. Settling in Austin, Reynolds began recording under the name Leatherbag, releasing a string of albums for local imprint Superpop, which culminated in his full-length debut, last winter's appropriately titled Nowhere Left to Run.
"I'm in a completely different situation than I was, and I've had to learn to embrace that," reflects Reynolds. "There are a lot of songwriters I know that have to be in a bad place to write, and I just think that's crap. You have to learn that it's not just about yourself, and if you can get that first line, just write. Everything's up for grabs, whether it's a poster on the wall or something somebody said at a party. And as long as I have that line, I can go anywhere with it, but I can always come back and start again."
Following his lines, Reynolds has become one of Austin's best and most versatile young songwriters. His two EPs, last year's So Long, Sweethearts and splendidly melancholic Love Me Like the Devil, showcased his blues and folk roots, respectively, while Nowhere Left to Run shifted into Dylan-inspired rock behind a full band. In addition to working on two new Leatherbag albums, Reynolds also formed the improvisational noise trio Diamonhead, is collaborating with Philadelphia experimental-folkers the Nace Family, and recently completed a project with members of the Channel called No Bridges to Cross, whose eponymous EP will be released later this month.
"I've come to this realization that I'm 28, and if I don't take advantage of every project I can possibly do right now, what's the point?" Reynolds ponders. "The only thing left if you don't do this stuff is for you to say, 'I really should have done that.'
"Everybody wants to have that one moment where they get to say something really, really meaningful and have an audience," he continues. "It doesn't have to be so complex; you can say something really meaningful without saying much at all. But you have to work, and it's all work. You probably won't even know when you reach that place, because you'll be working. And that's why I'm working." – Doug Freeman