Warren Haynes: Truckin'
What really drove that home for me was when we did the Allman Brothers’ Hittin’ the Note album. There were all these tapers compiling what they thought would be the album, putting their favorite live versions together and circulating them really widely, so thousands of the biggest fans had speculative copies of the album. There was just one song on that album we had not played extensively live. So, in essence, there were dozens of versions of the record floating around before it was released. Once it was issued, the impact and freshness wasn’t as strong as it could have been. That’s really what made me want to take a different approach on Déjà Voodoo.
GW Hardcore Mule fans get frustrated that you don’t spend more time on the band. Do you ever feel you should devote more time to the group?
HAYNES I think being able to bounce around from project to project really helps me remain fresh. You can get a little stagnant doing the same thing over and over, but I’m doing something else and feeling reinspired in a whole different direction before stagnancy can set in. It’s been a really inspirational thing for me. I make sure that the Mule get their time, the Allman Brothers get their time, and the Dead get their time. I’m the one who loses out free time. But it would be oversaturation for the Mule to do 200 shows a year right now anyhow. We feel like 80 to 90 shows is the right amount, and that’s what we’ll do. They just don’t occur in the summer, because of my other commitments.
Frankly, this summer ended up being so tough for so many bands that I’m really glad we weren’t out there. It was rough out there. Tours were cancelled, people were losing money. It was just a very strange environment. And Gov’t Mule are doing better than ever and growing all the time.
GW Is that just natural growth, or are more people checking out the band because they see you in the Dead and Allmans?
HAYNES It’s all of the above. Everything I do adds awareness to Gov’t Mule. I’m constantly meeting people who got turned on to the Mule one of these ways. The other day I was walking down the street in New York City and some kid stops me. “Hey, you’re Warren Haynes, right? I saw you play with Dave Matthews and looked you up and now I love Gov’t Mule.” There are a lot of potential fans out there that haven’t heard us yet, and every tour we’ve done lately I meet kids who are at their first or second Mule show, and I love it.
GW A lot of the new songs feature rhythm guitar behind your solos. That’s unusual for the Mule; you’ve generally had a “no overdubs” policy.
HAYNES I went into this record intending to play rhythm on more of the tracks and overdub more solos, just to shake things up. But I always go in thinking that and end up playing my solos on the takes. We get in there and I’ll play rhythm for a few passes and the band feels like they could have a lot more fun if I were actually soloing, so I’ll start soloing and the tracks will fall into place. In the end, most of the solos were live takes cut with the band. Most of the overdubbing was for adding rhythm or harmony parts.
GW I detect a lot of Pink Floyd and David Gilm our references on the new record.
HAYNES “Silent Scream” definitely has a Pink Floyd influence, but I wasn’t conscious of that while writing and recording it. And I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my playing on the record evokes Gilmour, because he is the master of the subtle statement. I love how he plays the perfect thing in the perfect place, and I definitely consider that something to emulate.
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