Rock legend Warren Haynes spills on how politics influenced the new Gov’t Mule album (recording started on Election Day), Revolution Come… Revolution Go, what the audience can expect at the band's SummerStage show on Wednesday, May 17, and much more.
Talk to us about the new album Revolution Come… Revolution Go, which is out June 9. What was the inspiration behind the music on it? WARREN HAYNES: This is our first studio record since celebrating our 20th year as a band. Musically speaking, our goal was to make a record that explored directions that we haven’t explored in the past while revisiting our early influences as well. I had been saying that in interviews, but I wasn’t really going to know what that meant until we were in the studio as every record we’ve ever made changed drastically during the process. Lyrically speaking, this record covers a lot of ground. It has a few political songs but overall it deals with life, relationships, and reflection, which makes sense based on looking back over 20 years.
Why call it Revolution Come… Revolution Go? WH: The title came from the song Revolution Come… Revolution Go, which is, musically speaking, one of the centerpieces of the album in the way that it visits a lot of musical territory—it starts out as kind of a jazzy, bluesy shuffle, turns into a blues-rock motif, and then winds up with this very jazzy instrumental section before returning to the beginning. Lyrically, it’s a somewhat tongue-in-cheek observation about the ineptness of our political system, meaning that one administration makes changes and the next one negates them and we basically never get anything done.
You recorded the album in Austin, Texas and you started recording on Election Day. How did the time and place have an effect on the album’s music? WH: We love recording in Austin—we’ve made several records there. It’s a very music-friendly town. As for the time, we, like everyone else, never expected Trump to win so, upon receiving the news, we just buried ourselves in the studio. I didn’t read a newspaper or watch TV for two weeks. I’m sure this affected the overall mood and attitude of the record, but the political songs on the record were all written prior to going to Austin. The two last-minute additions were surprisingly “Traveling Tune,” which explores the country side of Southern Rock more than we have in the past, and “Sarah, Surrender,” which is kind of a cross between Curtis Mayfield and Al Green, neither of which is political.
What song or songs in particular stand out to you on the album? WH: I think the album as a whole shows a lot of diversity and each stands out for different reasons. “Thorns of Life” is a cool musical journey. “Dreams and Songs” is a very revealing personal statement for me. “Stone Cold Rage” is another tongue-in-cheek rocker: “mama’s gone be a martyr”.
Why did you keep the guest vocalists on this album to a minimum, and why did you choose Jimmie Vaughan to do “Burning Point”? WH: SHOUT, which was our last studio record was, we felt, a culmination of 20 years of influences. It was the only time that we, or any other band for that matter, put together a bonus CD of the same 11 songs interpreted by 11 of our favorite singers. No need to do that again. We thought of Jimmie for “Burning Point” just based on the overall feeling of the song. Luckily, he lives in Austin.
What can the audience expect from your show at SummerStage? WH: We do a different set list every show and usually decide in the few days prior what we’re going to play. We’re gradually starting to include some songs from the new album and will most likely cover a little bit from each period of our past. We keep a log of every show and will make sure that it’s very different from our recent NYC appearances.
How is the vibe at SummerStage different? WH: It’s a beautiful setting and playing outdoors has a vibe of its own, as does playing in NYC. There will be a lot of hardcore music fans there.
What do you love about summer in New York City? WH: As someone who’s lived here for almost 30 years, what can I say? I love everything about it. Nothing like it.
And what’s next for you? WH: Gov’t Mule is going to be touring incessantly for the next year or so. I’m not really looking beyond that for now!