Gov’t Mule is a Southern rock jam band, formed in 1994 as a side project of The Allman Brothers Band by guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody. The band released their debut album, Gov’t Mule, in 1995, and have since released an additional nine studio albums, plus numerous EPs and live releases. Gov’t Mule has become a staple act at music festivals across North America, with both its members and frequent guests boasting members from other notable bands, adding various funk and blues rock elements to the band’s sound. Except for its regular festival appearances, the band was mostly on hiatus during the early part of the decade while band members pursued other projects, particularly Haynes and his Warren Haynes Band. In the summer of 2013, the band gave details on their upcoming album Shout!, their first studio album in four years and their first release on Blue Note Records, which was released on September 24 of that year. In what Haynes contends is a first, the album included a bonus disc consisting of covers of the album’s tracks by artists including Elvis Costello, Dr. John, Grace Potter and Steve Winwood. In 2014, they performed at the Beacon Theatre again with Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge and Slash. They performed 18 classic AC/DC songs in a second set with Kennedy on vocals for the New Year’s Eve „Back At The Beacon“ show. Gov’t Mule had a concert on Monday 9th of May at Den Atelier and for this occasion their guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes was ready to answer some of our questions.
Hello Warren and thanks for taking your time for this interview! Where are you at the moment?
I am at home which is about one hour north of New York City.
How did you get into playing music?
I started singing when I was 7 or 8 years old – mostly listening to soul music. James Brown was my first hero. I picked up guitar a few years later when I heard Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Winter.
Tell us about how you teamed up with the Allman Brothers.
I met Dickey Betts and Gregg Allman when I was 20 years old. A few years later, when I was 26, I started playing and writing with Dickey during a time when The Allman Brothers Band was broken up. When they reformed in 1989 they asked me to join.
Gov’t Mule are quite a busy band. From where do you take all that energy and new ideas?
Although we are a rock band we are influenced by a lot of different types of music and we try to explore all of our different influences. This helps us create something fresh and unique and is a constant challenge.
How do you resolve any creative differences in the band during the recording process?
As the leader of the band I try to utilize democracy as much as possible but when we don’t agree I feel comfortable making the decision.
Are you reading the critics of your albums?
I don’t pay much attention to critics. It all starts with making ourselves happy, making music that we love. Thankfully there seems to be a lot of people that appreciate the fact that we only want to make music the way we want to make it.
Which were the first bands that really moved your soul?
The Beatles, The Four Tops, The Temptations, Sam And Dave, Otis Redding, and as I mentioned earlier Cream, Jimi Hendrix, and Johnny Winter.
Which bands or artists have you been listening to lately?
I listen to a lot of old music. Timeless music. As far as new music, I like this new band called the Marcus King Band. I also like Hard Working Americans.
Over the last years there was a huge comeback of the vinyl record. How do you see that development?
Do you think that people have the desire to listen to an album as whole again, instead of just a few songs on streaming? I’m glad that vinyl is making a comeback. I find it much more fulfilling to listen to an album as a concept rather than just a collection of songs. All of my records and the records I’m involved with are made in a way where there is an overall personality to the songs that is stronger when listened to as a complete statement.
Thanks for taking your time for this interview and good luck for the future!
(Interview by Mike Dostert)