Good friends Warren Haynes, of Gov't Mule, and Danny Clinch, an acclaimed rock photographer who has worked with Bruce Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Tom Waits and more, had been talking about collaborating on a project for some time.
With the band's twenty-fifth anniversary on the horizon, Haynes realized Gov't Mule couldn't wait any longer. So Clinch was brought in to document the band's April 2018 performances at the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, New York.
The result is Bring On The Music - Live At The Capitol Theatre, a live album and concert film, directed by Clinch, that also includes interviews and documentary-style footage. The album will be available June 28 on vinyl, digitally and two-CD set and the film, with a different track list, will be available on as part of a two-CD/DVD package and on Blu-Ray July 19 but I have a preview here with the premiere of the more than seven-minute live jam, "Mr. Man."
I spoke with Haynes and Clinch in a joint interview about their friendship, what makes a good collaborator, the friends of Gov't Mule they have lost in recent years, including Gregg Allman, and more.
Steve Baltin: You guys have known each other a long time. Did you learn a lot about each other working on a project of this size together?
Warren Haynes: You're correct we have known each other a long, long time and I think one of the key factors in Danny being the right guy for this was that we had worked together so many times and we all feel really comfortable. We're a band that wants to not have to think while we're performing and Danny understands that. He knows what it is that we're all about and he can be unobtrusive at the same time having full access.
Danny Clinch: I met Warren on the very first Gov't Mule record and we just were fast friends and cut from the same cloth in a lot of ways. And we just kept that relationship going. I'd work on many, many other projects and then I'd just show up at shows just to hang out and hear the band. And I think in our working relationship it's always been about, for me, making people comfortable and relaxed and about trust and trusting people. So we had talked about making a film like this for years. Warren was just like, "Yeah, we're gonna do this one of these days. It's gonna happen." All of a sudden we had this opportunity and he and I didn't even really have to talk too much about it. We had one conversation like, "Yeah, exactly. I'll see you over there." We also wanted to give the audience something really special and that's why it was really cool for him and I to have a conversation beforehand that we could weave into the story of the film. And we wanted to create something that's intimate. not only on the actual concert film itself, but some backstage moments and conversation about where people are at at that moment and all those things that are super important to the band.
Baltin: What made this the right time?
Haynes: Well, one of the things that we were looking at was knowing that our twenty-fifth anniversary as a band was approaching. And we would have been remiss to not have done this before that (laughs). So it was in some ways a celebration of the impending twenty-fifth anniversary, but it was also the right timing. The band's a in a great spot right now and we haven't really documented where the band is right now. And also Dan and I were hanging out. We were around each other a lot over the last six months. So we had plenty of opportunity be like, "Hey, we should really make this happen." And it was just everything working out at the right time.
Clinch: You see the body of work that Gov't Mule has made over the last 25 years. And, to me, that said it all. That said, "Yeah, this should be documented." You have this huge body of work to draw from. They're on a roll, they're making great music, fans are loving it. It was a moment to document all this great momentum but also all this history with the band.
Baltin: What were the pleasant surprises you both found working on this film?
Haynes: He's the guy when I need somebody I can just trust, that knows what it is we're looking for. It just feels like we're hanging out. And we do -- we play blues together, we hang out and listen to music together. There are people in the industry that you gravitate towards as kindred spirits and it's great when you can turn those relationships into long-lasting ones.
Clinch: Yeah, and tell jokes together by the way. Warren is quite a storyteller and he has a lot of stories. But we also like to toss a joke at each other now and again. But it's interesting cause my opinion of this project coming into it is also having known Warren and the band for a long time, having known Allen Woody and knowing the whole story, and knowing Warren's influence, from deep blues stuff to Pearl Jam to Pink Floyd and all those things, not only musically, but visually speaking. Those were jumping off points for me too cause I like to be artful and I'm also a big fan of the document. I feel like I'm documenting musical history, both photographically speaking and when I make these films. That's why it's important for me to tell the story of where are they at musically right now and what are they experiencing and where have they drawn their experiences up to this point. I try to combine those two things always, my love of the document and then my love of the artfulness. I feel like some of the opening sequences and the experimental film type feel of those lend itself to me to something I feel like Pink Floyd would have done. Or some other very creative no rules type band.
Baltin: What, for each of you, makes a good collaborator?
Haynes: I wrote some liner notes for this project that talk about how you don't get to be a band for 25 years without relationships, without depending on relationships, challenging relationships, forging new ones, re-forging old ones and we look at this project in a lot as a lot of ways as a celebration of relationships. The last two or three years have been very challenging in the way that we lost a lot of people close to us. We lost Gregg Allman and Butch Trucks from the Allman Brothers, Col. Bruce Hampton, who was very close to us and our tour manager, Peter Banta, two days after Col. Bruce. And so some of the songs, some of the key songs, the title track, "Bring On The Music," deals with relationships and also the relationship between us and our audience. And I kind of feel like what you're referring to we always refer to as chemistry. When you have chemistry with someone it happens from the very beginning. And if you have that you can build upon that in a way that you can't build upon a relationship that doesn't have that. And in music it's extremely important because if you allow the relationship to grow based on the chemistry that is already there it's gonna get better and better. And I'm fortunate enough to have that kind of chemistry and relationship with a lot of different musicians and artists and people like Danny, that, over time, are nurtured to the point that it gets more and more familial and more and more comfortable and more and more where you place your trust in that person without having to acknowledge it.
Clinch: Yeah, collaboration is one of the greatest parts of my career. And I think there are so many ways in which people do it. Some people are taking the reins in the collaboration and some people are laying back in the collaboration, whatever's suiting everyone's personality. And I think that relationships, like Warren was saying. and all those things are one of my favorite parts of my career. And I think that a great collaborator is someone who can give and take. Some people do more than others when you're talking musically or in a photo shoot or filmmaking. It's a balance of the trust that you have with someone. And I feel like in collaboration, of course the thing you're gonna make together is gonna be unique because of that. The thing I might make with Warren will be unique to Warren and I. The thing I might make with Bruce Springsteen or Pearl Jam will be unique to us. And it's like that balance and creativity. Some people are super gung ho about it, like Tom Waits would show up with a truck full of props and you're just like, "Holy s**t, this is on." And then other people are more subtle in their collaboration.
Baltin: Tell us about the song "Mr. Man," which we are premiering.
Haynes: "Mr. Man" is of those tunes that for the body of the song we stay pretty close to the script every night up until the ending, where sometimes we'll break it down and stretch out the ending and the guitar solo will get really long. And that night at the Capitol Theater we stretched it out in a way that we never really have before because we're just relying on the communication and the musical conversation we're having. So it's a unique take of the song in that way. As far as the song itself I wrote that song in Philadelphia. I was staying at a hotel and about three AM I looked out the window of my hotel room and what was outside was the Liberty Bell. And I just sat down and wrote this tune. It's something that we don't play all the time. We're playing it more and more these days. And we were trying, for this project, to pull out a lot of songs that don't get played as often as some of the other ones, especially some of the other songs that had been included on previous live releases.
Bring On The Music Out Now!
New live release features over 5 hours of music. Available on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray, Vinyl and Digitally.