Interview with Gov’t Mule: The Essential Rock

The last time we spoke—you told me that you saw art actually moving towards integrity-based artists? Do you still feel that way?

What I see is something that reflects our culture in general, especially if you are speaking American culture. If you look politically in America we have eliminated the middle class. Rich people on one extreme and poor people on the other extreme. There is no longer a middle class. I think art in the music world kind of reflects that. On one end you have pop —American Idol-type music that people wind up spending millions and millions of dollars recording and promoting. The major labels, who are still convinced they are right, are grasping at straws and are trying to figure out a way to maintain their strong hold over the world. And then on the other hand you have just working musicians and artists, and songwriters, and bands, wanting to reach their own audience but not wanting to sell their souls to do it.

If somebody said to you that rock ‘n’ roll is struggling to achieve your goals without compromising the ideals set by your artistic foundation, would that be an accurate statement?

Yes. Obviously that is one way of putting it. I agree with it. I think real rock ‘n’ roll is being made by people that are moved to make that music. It is an expression of who you are. People’s different interpretations and variations of what that is vary on age and where they grew up. How their first major experience of being turned on to something moved them. It is a rebellious spirit. It is going against the grain of society, but not without purpose. It has its own purpose. People know when they are moved by something and I think part of the problem today where people feel as though they are getting ripped off with art culture—whether it is music, movies, books—is that when people compromise their own artistic integrity to second guess a market place then the art itself suffers. You wind up over looking the Otis Reddings, the Ray Charles, and the Aretha Franklins of the world because they are coming from a different place.

What about if I said, it wouldn’t be rock ‘n’ roll if at one point there was no struggle?

That is one theory but everybody has their own struggles. Some people may not be struggling in obvious ways but they are struggling in other ways, in some cases more than any of us. Fighting the good fight is not always about being broke. I am sure there are a lot of musicians who are fighting more demons after they have achieved success then they are before. You theory is a valid one but I don’t think it could universally apply.