Asked to explain the
creative philosophy behind Gov't Mule bassist Allen Woody (10/2/56
frames a characteristically
wry response: "In so many ways, we rely on
spontaneity and unpredictability:
you can get electrocuted at any time," he laughs.
The spontaneous combustion
approach has yielded great results for all three members of
Woody, drummer Matt Abts and guitarist/vocalist Warren Haynes.
to forming Gov't Mule
with Abts, Woody and Haynes earned national attention
as members of the
Allman Brothers Band. And during the past decade, Haynes'
slide guitar pyrotechnics
have marked him as one of the world's premier
by fans and critics alike. Fueled by Abts' fierce drumming,
Woody and Haynes
have achieved new levels of combustibility in Gov't
Mule: now Dose,
their Capricorn Records debut, shows Gov't Mule blowing the
roof off the laboratory.
Leadoff track "Blind
Man In The Dark" opens the album with a blast of grinding
funk, possessing a
rock edge reminiscent of earlier classic power trios. Dose
proceeds to storm
through rock, blues, soul, folk, and jazz terrain, and includes
a knockout cover of
the Beatles' "She Said She Said" for good measure.
Alongside brawny instrumentals
("Thelonius Beck," "Birth Of The Mule"), Dose
possesses a distinctive
lyrical depth, from the lethal allure of "Thorazine Shuffle"
and barbed observations
of "Towering Fool"; to the fractured, fragile optimism
of "I Shall Return."
"Writing helps exorcise my demons," admits Haynes; "it's
In general I'm a pretty happy person, but if I didn't have that
outlet God knows where
I would be."
The album includes
a pair of intriguing covers: an eerie, stark version of the Son
House classic "John
The Revelator," and the aforementioned reworking of the
Beatles' "She Said
She Said." "That one was Woody's idea," says Haynes;
"whenever we do a
cover we try to make it our own -- very different from the
'She Said' we put the full Mule treatment to it: we end up slowing
it down and roughing
it up a bit."
Producer Michael Barbiero
(Soundgarden, Blues Traveler, Guns 'n Roses)
fostered the album's
relaxed, confident mood. "Michael really knows what we're
all about," nods Abts.
"He has recorded with us before, he's seen us live many
times, and understands
our need to explore new directions. For Dose we
a lot of different sounds and textures in the studio, yet
Michael captured the
spark and freshness of a live setting."
The group's adventurism
in the studio reflects their searing live shows, which
blown away audiences throughout the country. Band
members admit that
the concert stage is Gov't Mule's natural habitat: "Playing
live has always been
the key for us," says Abts. "Feedback from the crowd is
addictive in the best
sense possible, because the audience pushes you to move
forward and grow."
All three band members
had crossed paths prior to joining forces as Gov't
a native of Asheville, NC, had played with the Dickey Betts Band
before joining The
Allman Brothers Band for an extended gig.
an army brat who lived in military bases all over the world
before finally settling
in Virginia at age 16, met Haynes when both were playing
with Dickey Betts.
Abts' list of credits includes stints with Montrose and
Ex-Rolling Stone guitarist
And Woody, born
and raised in Nashville, played bass with The Allman Brothers
for several years
alongside Haynes. Haynes and Woody are widely credited
with giving the Allmans
a much-needed shot in the arm: the two men penned
many of ABB's newer
songs, and contributed greatly to the group's resurgence.
In May 1994, while
Haynes and Woody were on tour with the Allmans, they
jammed with Abts at
a Los Angeles club following an ABB show. "It was pretty
exciting," says Haynes.
"As we played together more and more, we got to
thinking that maybe
we should put the time and effort into making it a real
band." In April
1997 Haynes and Woody amicably departed The Allman Brothers
in order to focus
on their efforts with Abts and Gov't Mule.
Oh, and about the name
Gov't Mule: the phrase was originally used by Allman
Brothers drummer Jai
Johanny Johanson in a conversation with Woody, who
liked it so much that
he mentioned it to Abts and Haynes. "It can mean different
things to different
people," admits Haynes, adding with a laugh "besides, the
name kind of describes
us: we're a slow, hard working, non-glorious animal."
humor aside, this animal continues to accomplish
impressive feats --
individually and as a group. A pair of previous albums,
1995's Gov't Mule
and 1996's Live At Roseland Ballroom, have earned broad
Haynes was named "Best Slide Guitarist" by Guitar Player
magazine in 1995 and
1996, and his name is increasingly mentioned among a
select league of legendary
guitarists such as Duane Allman, Eric Clapton, and
Now, Gov't Mule's new union with Capricorn Records marks
in the group's collective ascent. "There's a whole mystique
says Woody; "it's cool that Gov't Mule is now a part of
The new album and new
label testify to Gov't Mule's innate strengths, as well as
a collective growth.
"The smaller the lineup," says Haynes, "the more important
a band's chemistry
becomes. In a trio, you better have a strong chemistry or
We had an instant chemistry from the very beginning, but in the
long run the most
important thing is what you end up actually doing with that
and how you build upon it."