Warren Haynes Reflects On Two Decades Of Gov’t Mule

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Carter Alan caught up with Warren Haynes for this week’s edition of Sunday Morning Blues on WZLX. Fresh off the release of his tenth studio album with Gov’t Mule, Revolution Come… Revolution Go, Haynes opened up about entering his third decade with the band, and what comes next. Read on for highlighhts from Part One of our exclusive conversation. This interview has been edited for clarity.

Carter Alan: You know, it’s really hard to believe that it’s been four years since the Shout album…

Warren Haynes: Yeah, it’s been almost four years since Shout, but in the interim, I did the solo record Ashes and Dust, and toured, and went all around the world. So it’s not like I really had the chance to just go on vacation. One of the cool things about making this record was that we had time apart for everybody to be preparing and just kind of bringing fresh energy back into the whole thing. One of the best things for us was that we had been able to kind of spend a lot of time together then take some time apart and it felt good to do that, you know?

I can see that doing other things musically would inspire you to go back to the Mule and bring new ideas and a fresh outlook on things.

When we got together everybody was psyched to be back together, and there were all these ideas floating around and everybody had time to think about what kind of record we want to make on the other side of our twentieth anniversary.

I mean the last album Shout, for Sunday Morning Blues we love that slow blues on “Captured,” a nice long slow blues that was a big song for us. This album though, Revolution Come… Revolution Go is more musically diverse. I guess that would be a reason if you’re bringing fresh ideas in after having time apart?

Well you know going back to the second record, Dose, we never thought we were going to make a second record. We looked at Gov’t Mule as a side project where we were trying to bring back the old power trio – the improvisational rock trio. And that was just an experiment – something we were going to do for the fun of it. And we kinda started gaining some steam and thought “Maybe this is a real band!” So we wound up making the second record and third record and here we are in our tenth record but… Allen Woody and I talked way back then about how each record should be different from the one before it, and each record should try and contain influences that were not on the last record. So if you go back to Dose, for the first time we’re experimenting a little more with some acoustic stuff and with more production, and then by the time we got to Life Before Insanity – which unfortunately was his last record – there was a lot of different stuff on that record.. Some straight up acoustic stuff. And so some of that concept goes back to discussions that Allen Woody and I had about never doing the same thing, just keepin’ it moving.

Well talking about Allen Woody, you’ve always had awesome bass players of course and he was a co-founder of the band. It was very cold to see you and your bassist Jorgen Carlsson on the cover of Guitar World – it’s a great article too – he’s sort of a monster on the bass I gotta say…

He’s been amazing he’s been a great addition to the band, and everybody we’ve played with has been so wonderful. And obviously, when we made The Deep End records with Jack Bruce (Cream), and John Entwistle (The Who), and Jack Casady (Jefferson Airplane) and Phil Lesh (Grateful Dead) and Larry Graham and Bootsy Collins and all these people, that’s what kept us going.

And some of those people like Les Claypool and Mike Gordon and George Porter actually went on the road with us. Then we hired Andy Hess who is a great bass player as well but a little more like an R&B pocket kind of player, but amazing in his own right. And I’m very proud of the music that we made together as well. When we discovered Jorgen Carlsson, or when he discovered us or whatever it was that happened, he reminded us more of Allen Woody than anybody I had ever heard. Which was ironic because he wasn’t really familiar with Woody or with Gov’t Mule up until recently. They just happened to have those similar instincts and I tell people it’s because their birthdays are one day apart.

It’s interesting to go back to the beginning of Gov’t Mule with that Tel-Star Sessions CD put out which was, as I understand it – you went into the studio to see if you actually had a thing that you would eventually put together on to a studio album. And you basically were working out these songs in the studio or playing some of your favorites here or there, and it’s – I think – a remarkable album because it shows the birth of The Mule.

And I think it’s some of Allen Woody’s finest recorded performances. He sounds incredible on those recordings. It was meant to be our first record and a time when we only knew about nine songs. Of course, after we made those recordings I was writing more and more and we started getting offers from record companies to actually sign a major record deal. The first record initially was just going to be a real low budget experimental type of record, but when we started getting all this interest it was like, “Well maybe we should get a real producer and go into a real studio and make a real record.” So those recordings got put on the shelf, and when I went back and listened to them literally almost twenty years later – It’s like, “Wow this stuff sounds great! It’s so fresh and hungry sounding.” So we had Gordy Johnson remix it, and it really came to life.

Part Two of our exclusive conversation with Warren Haynes will be posted later this week. Stay tuned!

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