Interview: Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers Band and Gov't Mule

Guitar World caught up with Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, who has just released Man in Motion, his first solo album in four years.

GUITAR WORLD: The Allman Brothers are in an interesting place. You guys haven’t been playing as much as you have in the past, but you have really deepened your repertoire. And during the annual Beacon runs, you have these wildly divergent guests pulling the band in different directions: a country legend one night and jazz icons the next. I think the Allman Brothers individually and collectively have found ourselves in a place where we just want to shake it up and not do what is expected of us — not go out night after night and play the hits or the most popular staples in the repertoire. If we are going to do 13 nights at the Beacon, as we did in March, then we have to change it up every night to keep ourselves fresh.

That sounds like the most natural thing in the world, but it’s actually extraordinary because no one else does it. Imagine Skynyrd not playing “Sweet Home Alabama.” Somehow we’ve managed to build this following — combining the old audience with an influx of new fan — that understands what we’re doing and allows us to do what we want to. I’m sure that if someone comes to one of our shows at the Beacon and it’s “jazz night,” they might be frustrated. Sorry, but we might play “Midnight Rider” tomorrow and may have played “Melissa” last night. I don’t think the band would want to exist as a nostalgia band, playing the same shows every night. And the comfort zone we’ve provided to the audience and ourselves has given us that luxury — a situation where we can play what we want and people not only accept it but also actually dig it. It’s kind of amazing.

To read the rest of this story — and to see Hayne’s description of six of his most epic axes (including a 1961 Gibson ES-335), check out the July issue of Guitar World magazine — on newsstands now.

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Alan Paul

Alan Paul is the author of three books, Texas Flood: The Inside Story of Stevie Ray Vaughan, One Way Way Out: The Inside Story of the Allman Brothers Band – which were both New  York Times bestsellers – and Big in China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing, a memoir about raising a family in Beijing and forming a Chinese blues band that toured the nation. He’s been associated with Guitar World for 30 years, serving as Managing Editor from 1991-96. He plays in two bands: Big in China and Friends of the Brothers, with Guitar World’s Andy Aledort.