01.26.15 Billboard Exclusive: Gov’t Mule Premiere ‘Hottentot’ From Long-Shelved ‘Sco-Mule’ Album
When Gov't Mule paired with John Scofield during Sept. 1999 for a pair of shows in Georgia, Warren Haynes acknowledges it "was definitely a head-scratcher" for the Mule's then-burgeoning fan base.
"I think there were some people in the audience that had no idea we were going to do that much instrumental music and that much jazz-influenced music," Haynes tells Billboard.
"But it still sounds like us. When I hear it now, it sounds just as fresh as it did then. It captures us meeting for the first time, musically speaking. It started out as an experiment and turned into something that kind of changed the course of our music."
Haynes and the Mule are letting others hear that music -- officially, at least, after prolific bootlegging during the interim -- with Sco-Mule, a two-disc set coming Jan. 27 as part of a series of archival releases to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. Billboard is excited to exclusively premiere "Hottentot," a Scofield original from Sco-Mule, here.
"I think our intent was to release it about a year later," says Haynes, and indeed Sco-Mule's first disc was even mixed for release back then. But after the August 2000 death of bassist Allen Woody, "everything just changed" according to Haynes. "We didn't feel like it was the right thing to put these recordings out at that time. In the beginning we didn't even know if we were going to keep going or not. But it's been on our minds for a long time, and in the long run, I think it's probably a good thing, because I don't know that the Mule audience would've totally been ready for it. I think they're much more ready for it now, and now we can do a tour with John to promote it. It all kind of makes sense and it ties into the 20th anniversary, so I guess it worked out."
For his part, Scofield vividly recalls, "Man, Mule plays loud as hell!" His fans scratched their heads and raised their eyebrows over the collaboration, too, but the guitarist felt a kinship with the "Southern men" of the band.