Interview: Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule
Mon, 09 Mar 2015 09:22:23
After all these years, gigs, and albums, Gov't Mule continues to progress. That's the mark of a legendary band, when you never stop evolving, while maintaining the core of what makes you who you are. The group's collaboration with John Scofield, Sco-Mule [iTunes link] , builds an undeniable crossroads between Gov't Mule's incendiary blues and Scofield's jazz wizardry. It's a guitar album of epic proportions on par with some of the instrument's most revered collaborations.
In this exclusive interview with ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief Rick Florino, Warren Haynes of Gov't Mule talks Sco-Mule and so much more.
What made you know that playing with John would work?
Well, I’ve been a fan of John’s music for a long time, probably since the late seventies. I think all of us have been. When we started bringing more and more special guests into the mix, so to speak, John’s name came up as someone who we thought would be interesting. We gave him a call to see if he was interested, and he was. These recordings mark the first time we played together. We’ve probably played together twenty times since then. This is the very first time though. I think it was just a really cool chemistry right from the beginning, and everything lined up together, fell into place, and it turned out great.
Was there a lot of rehearsal that went into the first session, or did you just wing it?
Well, we agreed on the song selections in advance, and we had one full day of rehearsals and a couple of soundcheck rehearsals. We only did two shows, and we repeated quite a bit between the two—much more than we would these days. A lot of it was just doing what we do and flying by the seat of our pants.
Where do you feel like you and John link? Is it a shared work ethic or influences?
I think myself, Allen Woody, and Matt Abts grew up listening to a lot of jazz, a lot of fusion music in the seventies, and a lot of the music that influenced John during the time he was starting to come on the scene. I also think he listened to a lot of the things we listened to. He started out as a blues player, and he’s told me numerous times that Cream and Jimi Hendrix were huge influences on him and big reasons he wanted to play music. Musicians that take being a musician seriously tend to study as many genres as possible and seek out the best in each. With that in mind, I think he and I have listened to a lot of the same music. I think I’ve listened to a lot more jazz than some people would expect, and he’s probably listened to a lot more blues and rock that same people might expect.
This is a special record for you because of that.
It’s been a very anticipated release for us. Our hardcore fans have been looking forward to it for a long time. I’ve been pushing for the release for many years now. It was the sooner, the better as far as I’m concerned. I’ve always been a big fan of these recordings. In some ways, it might be more accepted now than it would at the time we first did it or people will understand the concept more. Between the 20th anniversary, deciding we wanted to put out a lot of archival music, and finally coordinating a tour together, everything comes together.
Is going through that archival material fun for you?
Yeah, I love hearing the music, especially if I haven’t heard it for a really long time. In the case of something like the Sco-Mule recordings, it brings back the evening itself. I can see myself and feel myself standing on stage when these recordings went down. I have such fond memories of them. Some of those memories are even visual. The cool thing is, when I hear it now, it sounds as exciting as it did back then.
What sticks out to you about those nights?
Disc 1 was eighty minutes chronologically of the Atlanta show. Originally, that was going to be the release. The first time I heard that way back when, I thought it sounded like a live record. In some ways, I’m glad we waited to put it out because I went back through, listened to everything else, and realized there’s a whole lot more great material there. So, we decided to make it a 2-CD release. If you order it through our web site, you get a third bonus disc. There’s a lot of cool music there.
Has the process been inspiring for you?
The concept of doing a tour together is going to make me approach the guitar a little bit differently and maybe write some new material and get into a headspace and mindset for the shows.
What’s next for you?
I’m in the middle of working on a solo record that I’ve been looking forward to for years and years. It’s a very acoustic-oriented record, and I’ve been working with the guys from Railroad Earth. It’s not fair to call it a “singer-songwriter” record, because there’s a lot of playing, performing, and instrumentation, but it’s coming from a different direction and mostly centered around acoustic instruments. I’m very happy with the way that’s turning out. I’m hoping to have that out this year and start working on another Gov’t Mule album after that.
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What's your favorite Gov't Mule song?