04.11.17 Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes Talks Recording on Election Day, ‘Positive’ New LP
Hear "Stone Cold Rage" from jam band's upcoming album 'Revolution Come ... Revolution Go'
It wasn't lost on the members of long-running jam band Gov't Mule that they were starting to make their 10th studio album, Revolution Come … Revolution Go, on an auspicious day. "We felt it was very poignant that we were starting on Election Day," says Warren Haynes, the band's founding guitarist and vocalist. "But like everybody else, we were pretty convinced that Trump couldn't win. We were halfway joking about, 'Wow, this record's going to take on a whole 'nother color if he actually wins.'" The album – recorded in Austin and New York city, produced by Haynes in collaboration with Gordie Johnson and Don Was, and due June 9th – is split between political observation and personal rumination, all of it fueled by the Mule's signature mix of Southern rock, blues, funk and soul.
"Stone Cold Rage," the LP's incendiary lead single, falls squarely into the political category with its evocation of social unrest from coast to coast. Speaking by telephone from Nashville, where he was due to play a tribute to Merle Haggard on the day that country legend was born in 1937 and passed away in 2016, Haynes took time out from celebrating his own birthday to talk about what sparked that song, how fatherhood has adjusted his workhorse ethic, and what's kept Gov't Mule fresh and vital to him for more than 20 years.
Starting to record Revolution Come … Revolution Go on Election Day has to have been a surreal experience. Can you describe how that day went down?
November 8th was the first day of recording, so it's a boring day – you're loading in, setting up, getting sound, doing all the tedious things that lead up to actually recording. Every time we would take a break, somebody would glance at the news, and as it was getting closer and closer to evening, it seemed a little more leaning toward him than normal. But that's the way it was with Romney in the beginning too; they were making it look like, "Oh, he could win." We'd go work some more, come back out, take a break, and it looked a little bit more dire. But still, I just thought the media was freaking out and trying to milk it for everything it was worth.
And then we start recording, and we got lost in that until the end of the night. We came out and everybody's cell phones were blowing up and everybody had a million texts, and they were everything from lighthearted joking to suicidal. And we were just like, "Wow, this really can't be true." And that was the last time I watched the news or read the newspaper for two weeks. I just said, "You know what? I'm going to focus on music, and I can't even think about this right now."
Did what you were feeling that day seep into the playing as you continued recording?
Absolutely, yeah. The first thing we did, once we found out that he had won, was we went in and played a blues tune to get it out of our systems. No thoughts of putting it on the record; we just thought, let's go play some blues. We were just joking around – "Wow, this is going to be a really dark record" – but somewhere along the line we decided, let's tackle these political songs, but let's also do all the positive stuff about making the world better and reflection and one-on-one relationships. We shelved some of the songs that were written earlier to make room for some of the ones that were written at the last minute; the last two songs were "Sarah, Surrender" and "Traveling Tune," and neither one of those is political. I guess it inspired us to kind of make sure that we were painting both sides of the picture.