Interview with Gov’t Mule: The Essential Rock

Gov't MuleWarren Haynes is all over the place—in the best of ways. Haynes sits as a fixture to Gregg Allman’s left since 1990 in the Allman Brothers Band, he was a once touring member of the Grateful Dead after the passing of Jerry Garcia, and resides a guitarist who has a room just for Jammy Awards. It all went down while Haynes was continuing to forge his own envelope with Gov’t Mule. In the midst of the exhausting schedule and the ever increasing musical bank in the hands from the muse, Haynes continued to evolve creatively.

With rumors moistening that Haynes will be joining the Grateful Dead for their 2009 reunion—they remain just that— rumors. But by all preliminary accounts Haynes will be logging in more time than ever with the Allman Brothers Band after the New Year in celebration of their 40th anniversary. We had the chance to catch up with Haynes while he was in New York City, preparing for a NYE Gov’t Mule run at Hammerstein Ballroom and two acoustic gigs at the Angel Orensanz Church on the Lower East Side.

The approach this time around was simple. The agenda reflected pin pointing the elements of essential American rock ‘n’ roll directly from the flap of one of the genres most revered players.

Do you feel you have to be starving as a musician at some point to earn credibility?

I think most musicians spend part of their lives broke. Financially speaking, whether it is a necessity to have integrity or not, I really don’t know.

Do you think a musician not having money shows their true character and the intentions of their passions?

I think art in general tends to demand sacrifice. The more sacrifices you make the more of your own passions you are sinking into your art.

Why would you think an artist who molds himself to fit a popular trend would be acting adversely in the face of art?

It depends on what your mission is. The more an artist chases commerce the less of an artist that person becomes. But, none of us live in a vacuum. The concept of creating a painting and then burning it because you don’t want anyone to see it is long outdated. It is each individual’s line to draw. The line of how much they will sacrifice their own art to reach more of an audience. I do tend to think these days people second guess the audience too much. They try to adhere to what they think the audience demands. I think art suffers in general because of that, but that is my own personal opinion.

The foundation of the allure of rock ‘n’ roll is built upon myth—all the way back to Robert Johnson meeting the Devil. With the rise of the age of information, and increasing rock voyeurism do you still feel there is a place for myth in rock ‘n’ roll?

It wouldn’t appear that way at the moment, but things move in cycles. I think when people are tired of where the cycle is right now, there will eventually be a big back lash. A lot of elements and aspects from the opposite side will tend to come back into play.