Gov't Mule side project may get full attention this year as band's tour hits Grand Rapids
By John Sinkevics | The Grand Rapids Press
January 28, 2010, 6:58AM
Gov't Mule performs Saturday at the Orbit Room.GRAND RAPIDS -- When guitarist Warren Haynes, bassist Allen Woody and drummer Matt Abts first assembled as the blues-rock band Gov't Mule in the mid-1990s, it was little more than a fun side project.
More than 15 years and nine studio albums later, Gov't Mule is a full-fledged global phenomenon with a hardcore fan base and a hectic year-long touring schedule.
"We never envisioned that we would even make a second record," Haynes said in a recent phone interview from a Florida tour stop. "It kind of snowballed and turned into something we didn't expect. It was fun, so we kept it going. It was spontaneous and we were just along for the ride."
Gov't Mule, on the heels of releasing its "By a Thread" album, returns to Michigan for a Saturday night show at Grand Rapids' Orbit Room, six months after making its second Rothbury music festival appearance in two years.
Usually, Haynes, 49, who also plays guitar with The Allman Brothers Band and The Dead, has to juggle Gov't Mule shows with schedules for the other bands.
But with nothing planned for The Dead this year and only limited concert appearances for The Allmans, 2010 could be "The Year of the Mule," with the band slated to tour the United States, Europe, Japan and Australia as it promotes "By a Thread."
Recorded last year by Haynes, Abts, multi-instrumentalist Danny Louis and new bassist Jorgen Carlsson (a now-permanent replacement for Woody, who died in 2000), the album takes an "old-school" approach, Haynes said, with sessions captured on analog tape with tube amps and vintage recording gear.
IF YOU GO
Gov't Mule When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (doors open at 7 p.m.) Where: The Orbit Room, 2525 Lake Eastbrook Blvd. SE Opening act: Larry McCray Tickets: $25 in advance at The Orbit Room, Ticketmaster outlets, (800) 745-3000, ticketmaster.com ($30 the day of the show); limited number of four-packs available online for $74; 18-and-older show
"We just went in there knowing we wanted to do something different. We never want an album to be similar to the one before. There's going to be similarity that's inherent in the band, but we did go for more of an experimental kind of approach," he said.
"We wrote a lot of songs in the studio. ... That's very much a live-sounding recording. You can feel the energy of the band. We went for an old-school approach sonically."
Haynes said Carlsson -- a Swedish-born session musician who admittedly knew nothing about the Southern rock-tinged Gov't Mule before he was asked to consider joining the group -- has been "a wonderful addition to the band."
"He really helped galvanize the chemistry and pushed us up to another level, which has been great. ... Jorgen brought back the initial spirit that Gov't Mule was founded on."
That spirit has helped build Gov't Mule's reputation as a great live act, with generous doses of improvisation and song-altering forays on stage. Haynes joked that his nine-minute song, "Inside Outside Woman Blues #3," might even grow longer. "There's no telling how long it might get by the end of this tour," he said.
It's the kind of inventiveness Mule fans have come to expect from the band. "I think the typical Mule fan is someone who tends to take music a little more seriously than the average person," Haynes said. "It's someone who doesn't mind seeking out good music and when you look in their CD case or iPod, you'll find a lot of different styles of music and eclectic music and not just mainstream stuff."
That eclectic music certainly includes Gov't Mule, with the band's latest album delivering everything from rollicking Texas stomp to psychedelic rock, thus proving the group's willingness to push the musical envelope.
"I love the fact that the initial concept of the band is coming full circle. The sky's the limit," Haynes said. "We can do, musically speaking, whatever we want to do."http://www.mlive.com/entertainment/gran ... y_get.html