Warren Haynes: Truckin'
GW There are also some prog-rock touches, notably the organ on “Mr. Man.”
HAYNES Yep. [laughs] Danny initially played organ through a Leslie, but he felt it sounded too standard, so we overdubbed it with him playing through a Marshall, which gave it that [Deep Purple keyboardist] Jon Lord sound and pulled the song together. It kind of has a sense of humor now.
GW And humor is not something people generally associate with your music.
HAYNES True, though I think there’s more humor there than people might understand. Maybe not in the lyrics but in the way we approach our improv. Woody, Matt and I loved throwing things at each other—odd melodies or riffs that we’d use to crack each other up. Woody and I would always try to catch each other off guard.
“Slackjaw Jezebel” is also intended to be humorous on pretty much every level—the lyrics, the groove and the way we ran my vocals through an amp. Guitarwise, it’s a real departure for me, too: the tone is different from what I’d usually use, and I’m not bending the strings or using vibrato.
GW You create tension on several rockers by pulling back a half step. I’m thinking especially of “Perfect Shelter.”
HAYNES It’s meant to be somewhere between Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, and finding the right tempo that’s not too slow and not too fast was the key to bringing it to life. I’m playing guitar and singing at the same time, so whatever melody pops into my head is coming out on both at the same time.
GW What do you think it is about the Mule’s music that can appeal simultaneously to Phish fans and Metallica fans?
HAYNES Mule music is a strange stew of ingredients. There’s something about it that hard rockers like. There’s something about it that blues and soul music fans like, and there’s something about it that people who just love to jam out like. I often think we’re getting away with murder because we’re utilizing more influences than most bands can get away with.
GW Do you feel more emotionally connected to Gov’t Mule’s music than you do to that of the Allman Brothers or the Dead?
HAYNES I’m very comfortable in all three situations and made to feel that way. The Allman Brothers are almost like family; I’ve been with them since ’89. The guys in the Dead have also made me feel great, but Gov’t Mule are my laboratory to do whatever it is I want to do. We still work within certain parameters, but they are changing all the time. The more they widen, the more directions we can follow.
GW Your guitar playing in the Dead is much more subdued than it is in the other groups.
HAYNES I have to take a subtler approach. I can’t just go in there and play like I do in the Allman Brothers or in Gov’t Mule because it would be totally inappropriate. I play differently in all the bands because I think that’s the proper way to respect the music.
When I first joined the Allman Brothers, there were certain aspects of my playing that I just couldn’t use, because they didn’t fit. The longer I’m there, the more wide open it becomes. But I’m never going to go completely against the grain. That’s why being in Gov’t Mule is so important for me; I can play whatever I want.
GW How are things in the Allman Brothers different than they were the first time around?
HAYNES It’s a whole different attitude now. Everyone’s getting along great, and the band is into trying new things and working up songs. The vibe around the Allman Brothers is the best it’s been since I’ve been around. Gregg being happy and clean and in a good space is very key to that.
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