Rock 'n Roll Roulette
Fast paced, rapid fire, and unedited
Gov’t Mule – Warren Haynes [vocals, guitar], Matt Abts [drums], Danny Louis [keyboards, guitar, and backing vocals], and Jorgen Carlsson [bass] – has galvanized a global fan base with their honest, organic and daring music and improvisational virtuosity, leading them to be recognized as one of the most timeless, revered and active bands in the world whose spot amongst rock titans remains unshakable. Led by visionary GRAMMY Award-winning artist and guitar legend Warren Haynes – a cornerstone of the American music landscape – the enduring, globally revered group has showcased its intelligence and breadth over the course of 20+ studio and live albums, thousands of memorable performances and millions of album and track sales. Gov’t Mule has become a human encyclopedia of great American music while adding to that canon with their signature sound. The band’s flexible interplay in the studio and on stage makes them a true living, breathing ensemble and Haynes is lauded as one of the most formidable guitarists and vocalists of the modern era and a prolific songwriter and producer. Throughout his prolific career as part of three of the greatest live groups in rock history – Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule and the Dead – and an acclaimed solo artist, Haynes has become one of music’s most treasured storytellers.
"As a songwriter, it's important for them, us, to uncover dirt you've never uncovered before and once you've written songs, you put that behind you, and you never want to revisit that again. You don't want to regurgitate the same stuff you've written in the past. That is the challenge. You want to tackle new subject matter, break new ground, go in new musical directions but not to veer too far from what people expect of you so you're on a tightrope of sorts all the time.
I feel the most gratified when I write something I'm very proud of but different from what I've done in the past."
By Kreig Marks, March 2022
KM: Hi Warren. Welcome to Tru Rock Revival Magazine's Rock 'n Roll Roulette. I'm going to ask you about 15 to 20 off-the-cuff questions and nothing here will be edited. This is all you. Are you ready?
WH: Yeah Kreig. Let's do this.
KM: What was the first time you could remember hearing the Blues as a kid and how old were you when the Blues came up and bit you, and you wanted to hear and play more of it?
WH: Well, the first memory I have of any music making the hair on my arms stand up was black Gospel music. I was about 7 years old. That music kind of gave birth to the blues. The first time I remember hearing the blues was probably BB King. I just loved the sound of his voice. About 2 years later, I started playing the guitar. Once I started playing, my heroes were Clapton, Hendrix and Johnny Winter and I discovered their heroes were blues players and I would go back to see who their influences were; BB King, Muddy Waters, Howling Wolf. My older brother had a lot of those blues records so somewhere around I was the age of 13, I kind of dove into that kind of music. When I first started playing I was listening to rock but as I progressed along I got more interested in the blues because that's what my heroes were listening to.
KM: That's a great mix of blues greats here without a doubt. When did you really fall in love with the guitar?
WH: I was about 11 and got to play my brother's acoustic and on my 12th birthday, I got an electric and never put it down. I started out on a $49 from the hardware store and a few years later I was playing a $250 guitar and it's been my passion ever since.
KM: In 1987 did you ever imagine that you’d get to play with Dickey Betts? When you got THAT CALL, what was going on in your head at that time?
WH: Actually, the first time I played with Dickey was 1980 or 1981. We played in a late night session with Guy Clark, passing acoustic guitars around. About a year later or maybe 2, Dickey called me on stage to play with his band, BHLT, which was Betts, Hall, Lovell, Trucks. Around 1987, I joined his band and we made the Pattern Disruptive record in 1988 and in 1989 they were putting the Allman Brothers back together and I was asked to join them. I was a huge Allman Brothers fan growing up and Live at Fillmore East is one of the greatest records ever made. They were a huge influence on me and I really connected with that music which was changing the music world. At the age of 9, I remember hearing one of their albums and I loved it and started singing around that time. Fast forward to 81, 86, 87 or 89, all those different steps of me moving forward to being in the band was just mind boggling. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined I'd ever be in the Allman Brothers. In 1989, they were signed to Epic and I was signed with Epic as a solo artist.
KM: Do you have one classic Allman Bros story or moment from the time of playing with those guys?
WH: Well, there's so many. Dozens and Dozens. Playing Woodstock in '94 when we got the call to play that, our management told them we already had a commitment in Boston but the only way we could do it is if we went on early and then got on a plane and flew to Boston for our night show. That's the only time we ever did 2 shows in one day in 2 different cities.
KM: Tell me about Gov't Mule. What was the inspiration to form that band?
WH: Well, for many years, Allen Woody, Greg Allman and I shared a tour bus for may years and on our bus we just hung out, listened to a lot of music and one day we were listening to Cream or something like that and Woody said, "you know, no one does that any more, a power trio, and you and I and a drummer should do something like that. " We had spoke about doing a project for fun half of the year. He said the two of us and Matt Abts (drums) should do that. So, we went to see him in LA and he had a gig at the Captain's Cabin and the three of us took over the second set and we jammed and right there we knew we found the right chemistry and decided to make a record, maybe do one tour and in the interim it kind of caught fire on its own and all these years later, Gov't Mule is still going.
KM: I'm glad you guys did it because I'm a huge fan of Gov't Mule.
WH: It was a huge journey down a dirt road that none of us expected but the next thing you know we were a real band and had something special that nobody else had.
KM: What changes do you see in yourself if you look back on your career, in your playing and in how you go about songwriting or performance, what are some major changes in you as a musician with how you approach it all now?
WH: Well, from a playing standpoint, if you never stop playing you're just going to continue to grow as a musician and in some cases growing means learning how not to be in such a hurry and not play so many notes. As a younger man, it was like, where's the fire, what's the hurry. As a songwriter, it's important for them, us, to uncover dirt you've never uncovered before and once you've written songs, you put that behind you and you never want to revisit that again. You don't want to regurgitate the same stuff you've written in the past. That is the challenge. You want to tackle new subject matter, break new ground, go in new musical directions but not too veer to far from what people expect of you so you're on a tightrope of sorts all the time.
I feel the most gratified when I write something I'm very proud of but different from what I've done in the past.
KM: You get to put together a DREAM BAND for a night, and this can be anyone who has passed on, or people still alive, who are your guys, who would you choose as the guys to jam with for a night?
WH: Lol. Wow! Well, not me! Lol. I'll be in the front row watching. Let's see.....Hendrix, Bonham, Coltrane, Howling Wolf, Pastorius, Myles Davis, Theloni0us Monk.
KM: You can only take two Blue albums out of an Apocalypse, which ones are they? You can only take one Govt Mule album with you, which one is it?
WH: Since it's only 2, one of them would be a Willy Dixon box set with all these greats doing Dixon's songs. All these great artists in one place. And, Albert King's Live Wire Blues Power.
KM: And a Gov't Mule album.
WH: A Gov't Mule album? I think maybe Dose and Life Before Insanity. They all have a special place for me and one of the things I'm very proud of is that each album is a little different than the one before. It's important to us. How far away from what you've already done do you veer without taking a chance people thinking it's too far.
KM: Best musician MOMENT where you met an idol and how did that meeting go?
WH: I've been so fortunate to have played or jammed or recorded with so many people I grew up listening to. This is a hard question. When Clapton joined the Allman Brothers for 2 nights at the Beacon, that was very special for me, actually for the whole band. Playing with Bob Dylan the first time was amazing. Playing with John Lee Hooker at Madison Square Dixon with Willy Dixon, Bo Diddley, Bonnie Rait. None of us would play a solo. Lol. We were up there being in the moment, not wanting it to be about ourselves but all of us. I've just been so fortunate who I've been able to play with, so many who have meant so much to me.
KM: Warren, I want to thank you for all you've done in music, with the Allman Brothers and with Gov't Mule. I'm a huge fan and this has been real cool speaking with you. When can we expect to see you and Gov't Mule on the road again? I know you've got a few solo shows coming up.
WH: Yeah, I start some solo shows in March and the Mule tour starts in April. We're gonna try to do as many shows as we can and do what we do. Hopefully we'll be in your area too in South Florida.
Kreig Marks, Publisher / Founder TRR
Kreig Marks is the Founder/Publisher of Tru Rock Revival Magazine.
Rock music has always been his passion, and promoting musicians. In is spare time he is an internationally recognized neuro-fitness trainer/ kinesiologist.