When Gov't Mule performs an evening's worth of Pink Floyd covers, vocalist-guitarist Warren Haynes said he assumes two roles: musician and fan.
Haynes learned how to play guitar at age 12, roughly one year before the 1973 release of Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon" — the album that holds the record for most weeks listed on Billboard magazine's Top 200 chart. "Dark Side's" 937-week mark far outdistances No. 2 on the list, Bob Marley's "Legend" at 535.
"That record made a huge impression on me," Haynes said of Pink Floyd's masterpiece.
Haynes and his Gov't Mule band mates debuted their Pink Floyd tribute, billed as "Dark Side of the Mule," during a 2008 Halloween show at Boston's Orpheum Theater.
Gov't Mule revived the concept this summer by scheduling seven "Dark Side of the Mule" dates co-headlined by the Avett Brothers. The double bill comes to Indiana Aug. 23 for a show at Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center.
"I think musicians are the biggest fans in the world," Haynes said. "You start out as this geeky fan, and you want to go further and learn how to sing or play. That never goes away."
Gov't Mule, the group Haynes founded in 1994 when he also was a member of the Allman Brothers Band, won't play "The Dark Side of the Moon" in its entirety at Ruoff. But several "Dark Side" selections will be represented.
IndyStar asked Haynes to dissect two David Gilmour guitar solos that have helped make "Dark Side of the Moon" an enduring classic.
Haynes said Gilmour's dreamy, majestic solo within "Time" made an unforgettable impact. "It’s just a really well-constructed solo," Haynes said. "By the time he gets to that high note in the third cycle, it all comes together in this big apex. As a guitar player who started out as a singer, I've always been drawn to guitar players who 'sing' through their instruments. I’ve always loved that solo."
When talking about Gilmour's energetic and jovial-sounding solo within "Money," Haynes breaks it down to three stages: a bold opening, a bolder conclusion and an unadorned segment in between. "It has all this time to build, but it breaks down to a simmer in the middle," Haynes said. "The tone changes. The reverb goes away when he’s playing quietly and then it comes back when he gets loud again."
On the ‘Nile’
Gov't Mule also tackles Pink Floyd songs not heard daily on classic-rock stations such as Q95. The band occasionally performs some or all of the song "Echoes," which appeared as a 23-minute studio recording on 1971 Pink Floyd album "Meddle." And this year's "Dark Side of the Mule" dates introduced a cover of "The Nile Song," part of the soundtrack Pink Floyd composed and recorded for 1969 film "More" (Barbet Schroeder's directorial debut). Perhaps a precursor to 1990s grunge, "Nile" ranks as one of the most aggressive songs in Pink Floyd's catalog. "If you’re a hardcore Pink Floyd fan, you definitely know that song," Haynes said. "But if you’re a casual fan you may not."
Haynes will return to the Ruoff amphitheater, site of an marathon accomplishment in his career. On June 29, 2002 (when the venue was known as Verizon Wireless Music Center), Haynes played guitar onstage for six hours. He spread his work across three acts: headliner Phil Lesh & Friends, middle act Allman Brothers Band and opener Gov't Mule. The North Carolina native said triple duty was a rarity during that summer of touring. "It's not something I'd want to do every day, but the times it happened were always really fun," said Haynes, who compared the task to a baseball player making it through a double-header. "A lot of great music was made that day, but I was pretty much there the entire day."
Revolution Come. Revolution Go
Rock & roll has always been a reflection of the times, and the new Mule is no exception.