Home / Music / Music Feature / Gov't Mule Shake Things Up

Gov't Mule Shake Things Up

May. 23, 2017
Google plus Linkedin Pinterest
Photo Credit: Jacob Blickenstaff

When Warren Haynes started Gov’t Mule back in 1994, he didn’t envision it as being anything more than a one-off side project. He had a valid reason, since he was playing with the Allman Brothers at the time. But the band has lived on well beyond that simple expectation, as evidenced by their celebrating 23 years of existence this year. In those nearly two dozen years, they’ve accomplished a lot, including a large collection of music (10 studio albums and various EPs and live albums) and more than 2,000 shows played around the world.

“To survive 23 years is a major accomplishment,” says Haynes. “The four of us are still really close friends and love playing together but also really enjoy hanging out together. That’s not something every band can say.”

On Friday, they’ll return to Milwaukee in advance of their latest album, Revolution Come…Revolution Go, which is out Friday, June 9. The band worked with longtime producer Gordie Johnson as well as Don Was on the album. Jimmie Vaughan also makes a guest appearance on the album version of the song “Burning Point.”

Haynes sees a lot of similarities in the chemistry of the band now with the original trio. “It’s kind of full circle to have the same sort of feeling about our chemistry that we did about the original trio,” he says. It’s no surprise then that he sees the band’s 10th album as the start of a new chapter. Revolution purposely is one of the most diverse sounding records the band has recorded, featuring a conglomeration of rock, blues, soul, jazz and country sounds.

“Being on the other side of our 20th anniversary, it kind of feels like a new starting point, like this is a new chapter,” Haynes says. “We’ve gotten through 20 years, now let’s see what the future brings…I think that’s the main reason why we decided to utilize as many influences as possible.”

“This record, maybe more than our past studio records, explores quite a few of our influences,” he adds. “It’s not necessarily that our influences are new to us. It’s just with each record we try to get to more of our influences because there’s so many. We’ve been influenced by so many different types of music, and I think that’s represented here. And even some directions we haven’t explored in the past.”

Keeping things similar but also breaking new ground has always been important for making a Gov’t Mule album. “It’s always been important to continue moving into new directions and somehow hopefully keeping one foot in the past as well,” Haynes says. “Because you never want to stray too far from where you started out, but once you’ve done something, you’ve done it, so you don’t want to repeat yourself.”

The album also packs a punch lyrically. The band reconvened on Election Day, which just happened to fall during the period they had planned to start recording. While the songs were written before the election results, the album features several songs that examine the deep divide politically in the country and “the anger on both sides that was going to be there regardless of who won the election.”

“I think more of the political commentary on this record is more about the realization that it’s up to us to fix it,” Haynes says. “The people have to fix it. The government’s not going to fix it. In a weird ’60s sort of way, we have to all come together and work together and be on the same side to whatever extent we can. Otherwise it’s just going to get more and more divided.” For example, on the Joe Walsh-like, riff-driven “Stone Cold Rage,” Haynes sings about the two sides of the country going in opposite directions and “keeping each other from moving forward.”

“It has an in-your-face quality about it that matches the intensity of the lyric even though the lyric is a little tongue-in-check and a little humorous,” says Haynes. “Joe Walsh and I worked together recently, and I mentioned to him, ‘Hey, there’s a new song on the new Gov’t Mule record that has a Joe Walsh kind of hook to it.’ Any time you use those strings, it’s a distinctive sound and something that evokes a lot of energy pretty quickly.”

Like the rest of the world, the results of the election shocked the band. But Haynes saw it as a “reason to dive head first into the music and focus on nothing else.” The new album also features some reflective and personal songs that touch on everyday life topics (“maybe even more than on the average Gov’t Mule album,” admits Haynes). “It’s music first and foremost,” he says. “It’s meant to make you feel good but also meant to make you think.”

Gov’t Mule performs at the Pabst Theater on Friday, May 26 at 8 p.m.

Friday, May 26
Pabst Theater


Now that controversial strategist Steve Bannon has left his administration, will Donald Trump begin to pivot to the center?

Getting poll results. Please wait...