RESURRECTION OF THE MULE: WARREN HAYNES

Warren Haynes just might be the busiest musician on the planet. The veteran guitarist splits his time between two Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame bands, the Phil Lesh Quintet, and his own band, Gov't Mule. Haynes also recently released Live at Bonnaroo, a live album from his solo acoustic performance at the annual Tennessee music festival in 2003. His idea of a vacation this summer: four days off between the end of the Allman Brothers Band's summer tour and the beginning of The Dead's second leg of their summer shows, during which he flew to L.A. to play Leno.

This week, Haynes and drummer Matt Abts released Deja Voodoo, the first Gov't Mule studio album since the passing of founding member and bass player Allen Woody and the addition of new members Andy Hess and Danny Louis. The reincarnated Mule has a fuller, funkier sound courtesy of Louis' keys work, Hess' bumping bass, and his ability to groove with Abts. The Mule's music is still focused on Haynes' searing guitar, but the new additions provide him with an excellent foil. The band took to the road this week on a two-month, cross-country tour in support of the new album and will most likely be coming to a venue near you. Enjoy.

AT: Take me back to the day in 1997 when you and Allen Woody decided, "Hey we like this Mule thing, we want to take it full time."


By George Weiss :: 07.10.04
WH: Well, we actually procrastinated quite a bit, because leaving an institution like the Allman Brothers is a scary thing to do, you know? There was a long period of where we knew that we needed to make that move and pursue Gov't Mule full time, but we just had to work up the nerve. When that came about, we left in April of '97 right after the Beacon run because that was the biggest window that would give them time to make changes. And at that point in time, we were just really very excited about the future. Things were just going really well for us on all fronts. The band was hitting on all cylinders, and it wasn't so much the case in the Allman Brothers. There was a lot of dissention, not a lot of creativity, and the band wasn't rehearsing. There were no plans to do another record. It just felt like we were going through the motions. Mule was the exact opposite, and so that helped us make our choice. We felt like, unless we made that move, people were always going to view the Mule as a side project. In order for people to take it as serious as we were taking it, we had to show ourselves and the rest of the world how committed we were.

AT: Woody passed in August of 2000, and here we are four years later with the first new Mule studio album since his death being released next month. How have the last four years, and the whole Deep End experience, been beneficial to you in overcoming the loss of Allen, and how do you think that experience has reflected in this new studio album?


Allen Woody by J. Baadshaug
WH: Well, I think that us deciding that we wanted to record with all these different bass players, all of Woody's heroes, and not jumping into choosing a bass player right away, was really in a subtle way what kept Gov't Mule together. And what allowed us to continue to grow and maintain momentum without having to cross over into territory that we were uncertain about. Going in every day with a different bass player standing where Allen Woody used to stand, in most cases his heroes, was incredible. You know, walking in one day and it is John Entwistle, and the next day it's Jack Bruce, and the next day it's Larry Graham, and the next day it's Chris Squire--that's a good week. (Laughs) That was very intimidating for us, very enlightening, very liberating, all these emotions were mixed together. It was very bittersweet because we were still mourning our partner. But at the same time celebrating his life by honoring him with some of his absolute favorites.

And we learned a lot from that whole experience. Every bass player and every special guest that we recorded with brought something fresh and exciting to the table, and we were able to tap into it and learn from it. And I think that that has something to do with the new direction that Gov't Mule is exploring on the new record. You know all those influences had been brought to the surface, so at that point it was okay to utilize them.

AT: Yeah, all of these different guys brought their own characteristics and personalities to those recording sessions. You guys were bound to be influenced by that experience.

WH: Absolutely. We just kept our ears open and you know, tried to not force the situation and tried and see where it would go organically and see what each person was going to bring to the table and try to be inspired by it and learn from it.

One of the things that you've mentioned about this new album is the band's new sound. What is the sound of this new band, besides the obvious influence of the additions of Danny Louis and Andy Hess to form a quartet instead of the power trio format? What makes the sound of the new Gov't Mule different than the old Mule?


Gov't Mule
Well, this is a chemistry between four people now, instead of a chemistry between three people. Andy and Danny both play like they are in a quartet, which is what we are now, so it works out perfectly. When Woody passed, Matt and I kind of made the decision to add a member at that point because we didn't want to put ourselves or the new bass player or the audience under the pressure of constantly comparing the old to the new. We thought it was time to open up a new chapter. If you go back to Life Before Insanity, you can see a lot of these directions being hinted at on that record. That was the first record where we really utilized production and overdubs and, you know, a lot of different instrumental textures. Woody and I both played a lot of different instruments on that record. And we had keyboards on that record, we had Ben Harper playing lap steel and singing. So you can see where it might have grown from that point forward had we not halted the progress. And then if you mix in all the influences from all the different bass players throughout the whole Deep End project, Deja Voodoo was the obvious next step.

In the notes that I read on the release of this new album, you said that with each new Mule studio album, you guys try to break new ground and explore new areas. Yet Michael Barbieri has had a consistent hand in producing these records from the beginning. How do you think that consistency with him as a producer has played out as far as the finished products with each of these records? And what is his greatest skill that he brings to the production of these studio albums?

Sonically speaking, Mike is one of the best that I've ever worked with. The sounds that he is able to capture on tape, to capture what a band really sounds like and not change it in any way, unless it wants to be changed, is an art. And he is a true artist in that way. It's funny because, at the end of every record, Mike comes up to me and goes, "You know, on your next record, you are probably going to want to try a different producer." And we always have the discussion, and I go, "Yeah you know, one of these days we're going to have to do that, but I am not sure if we are ready to do it yet." And then I started co-producing with him recently, so it changes the dynamic a little bit. I'm sure we are going to try someone new in the not-so-distant future. Maybe even for the next record, with Mike's blessing. But he is just so comfortable, he is almost like part of the family at this point. Maybe that is the reason to try somebody different, to shake free of that comfort zone.

I didn't know if his constant influence on these albums has made you guys feel even more comfortable as musicians to explore different things, and that the idea of breaking new ground with each records is that you have this consistent feeling with the producer that it makes you feel comfortable as a musician to explore. Because this record, and this is no knock on Woody because he could get really funky, but I think this record is a lot more funky than some of previous Mule records. It has got almost a New Orleans-like vibe to it.


Gov't Mule by Adam George
Yeah, the chemistry that Andy and Matt have together is totally different than the chemistry that Matt and Woody had. But it is equally impressive in the way that the first time I heard Matt and Woody play together, I heard this instant lock. The same thing with Matt and Andy. That's something that you can't force, you can't coerce it. It either happens or it doesn't, you know, and when a bass player and a drummer have that instant pocket together, you are just thankful and you don't question it. Of course, Danny is such a groove player as well that the band takes on this whole different sound. It is a sound that we were tampering with anyway, but when you throw people like Bootsy Collins, Larry Graham, Flea, and Les Claypool into the mix, it manifests itself pretty easily. Playing with George Porter and having him on the road with us really influenced this band a lot. And Porter is part of the family at this point. He's one of my favorite musicians, and we were just blessed and honored to work with him. So it was people like George, Oteil Burbridge, Mike Gordon, Jason Newsted, and especially Dave Schools that kept this band together.

 
I think the very first song I wrote was when I was 12 and just started playing guitar. And curiously enough it was about drug and alcohol addiction. When I look back, it is so odd that I remember that... it was called "The Wasp." It was about this imaginary bug that would sting you, and then you were addicted to drugs.
--Warren Haynes : Photo by Andy Tennille
 

Yeah, I definitely hear the Porter influence on this album and I thought that was one of the obvious things the first time that I heard it. He must have had a profound influence on you.

On Andy as well. Andy is such a Porter fan. He would list Porter up there with his top influences. It's funny because in some ways he was stepping into Porter's shoes. One of the things that I love about Andy is that great big bottom end sound, but he doesn't play like Woody. He has a different approach. He is not quite as aggressive, but he is perfectly aggressive in a four-piece setting. Woody was such a sensitive musician that as soon as we added a fourth member he would tone his aggression down a little bit too. It is just a natural thing to do. In a three-piece, everybody has to be a little more wild, and a little more aggressive, but with each member you add you have to kind of start accommodating to the character and shape of the sound. And so whenever we added musicians, Woody's role would change instantly as all of our roles would. And you could see that when we played with John Scofield, or when we added keyboards or whatever the case may be.

It's funny, I used to bartend at Ziggy's in Winston-Salem, NC for a number of years when I was in college and saw the old Mule there a lot. There were nights that I thought that that bar might fall apart because Allen's bass playing was so...


By Jake Krolick
It was the thunder, man. But in a trio you know, you've got a lot to hold up by yourself when you're the bass player. And so it kind of has to be that way. And one of the things that Gov't Mule was founded on in the first place was that improvisational trio sound that nobody was doing anymore. And of course now, we've graduated past that, which most trios did. If you look back historically, most bands that started as a trio wound up making their statement as a trio and then forging ahead.

Makes sense. I want to jump into some songwriting, and talk about your approach to songwriting for a little bit. And we'll get into specifics about some of the songs on the new album a bit later. But I was curious Warren, when was the first time you wrote a song and what was it about?


By Adam George
Oh, man. (Pause) I think the very first song I wrote was when I was 12 and just started playing guitar. And curiously enough it was about drug and alcohol addiction. When I look back, it is so odd that I remember that. I started out at a younger age writing poetry and all my teachers tried to encourage me to go either poetry or go into creative writing or into journalism or something, 'cause I always was intrigued by writing and had some sort of knack for it. But when I started playing guitar, all that focus instantly shifted to lyrics and songwriting. And then I wrote some amazingly stupid songs at the beginning and this, the first one I remember I was 12 years old and it was called "The Wasp." It was about this imaginary bug that would sting you, and then you were addicted to drugs. (Laughs) It was the stupidest thing ever. Even so stupid that the other people in my band, we had a band of 12-year-olds, and the other guys were making fun of it. (Laughs)

What was the band called?

At that point, the band was called either Science Fiction or Royal Flush. That was the first two bands that I was ever in. I am talking 12-year-old kids playing around in the garage, you know.

That's great. Let's talk a little bit about your writing process. Do you start with music and then do you write words to the music? Or do you start with words and then write the music? Which way do you find easier?


By Tony Stack
My normal way of writing is to write lyrics first and to add the music. That's kind of the opposite of what most people do. For some reason, I don't know if it is just laziness, or I try and convince myself that it works better for me, but I usually wait until I am lyrically inspired to write at all. For some reason, it is much easier to take a lyric and obtain the mood of that lyric and try and write music that captures that mood, than doing the opposite. Now, having said that, I've recently written a lot of songs that started with the music first and I added the lyric. A lot of songs have turned out great that way. There is no right or wrong way. I'm kind of doing it the opposite way to just to kind of shake it up and not fall into a pattern or a routine, you know? But if I went back through my catalog, especially the songs that I feel are more lyrically sound, it usually started as a lyric. Sometimes the up-tempo rock songs I'll write the music first and then figure out how to get a lyric in there. But you're second-guessing yourself at that point, asking what mood does this music project, and can I write a lyric that falls into that mood? But there's a hundred different ways to write a song.

Do you write every day? I read an interview with Trey Anastasio where he talked about how he and Tom Marshall take writing trips; they'd go somewhere specifically to write songs. Are you a person who writes every day? And I was curious to know if you write prose or short stories as well.


By Adam George
I wrote a short story one time and it took like ten days to write like 14 pages or something. It was the most frustrating experience in my life. At that point I just said, I guess I am a songwriter. I do write poetry sometimes now. Sometimes I write stream of consciousness stuff at four o'clock, five o'clock in the morning, at the point where I'm almost asleep. Sometimes I'll get inspired and sit down and write two or three pages of stuff and then go back a few days later and look at it and see what is there. And in some cases, I'll pull out parts of that and turn it into a song. Some of them remain individual pieces of poetry. I've never published any of my poetry. I have thought about it a few times, but I'm kind of scared to compare it to poetry by people who take themselves seriously as poets. But more often that not, some of the stream of consciousness stuff has its way of lingering around and finding its way into future songs. That's what I like to do. I keep scrapbooks and notebooks full of lyrics, and sometimes it will be a whole page of stuff. Sometimes it will just be one line on a page that I want to remember. So in that way I'm always writing, but I'll go sometimes two or three months without doing any serious songwriting. And I always get scared and have that same feeling of, "Oh my god, have I written my last song?" But then something happens and I start working on one song, and then another one will come and another one will come, and then I start regaining my confidence. I think with me it's kind of like a more ebb-and-flow kind of thing. Sometimes, my system is on input, and all I'm doing is learning and searching and soaking up. And then at the right time, it will start spitting it all out. Plus, it's hard to write on the road, and I'm on the road a lot. I need that space where I am by myself at four o'clock in the morning and nobody else is around in order for me to just completely relax and start spitting out what's in my subconscious.

That sounds like a more realistic approach. As a writer, I think I'd feel the increased pressure of having to deliver on some kind of writing trip or something like that.


By Adam George
Yeah. For me anyway, I have certain windows where I know that I am going to be able to write during this time because I don't have the pressures of having to be somewhere at a certain hour, and then an hour later having to be somewhere else. And you know, so I do a lot of writing in November and December because those are times that usually I have time off, and I'm able to relax.

Talk to me a little bit about some of your songs. What do you like to write about and how much of your writing is autobiographical?

When I listen to my favorite songwriters, I have always been pulled into the real dark personal pieces, you know. The ones that I feel like are exposing raw nerve. And I have always taken that approach myself. Sometimes it can be a little dangerous because you are opening yourself up for serious criticism to write that way, because you're aspiring towards something that only the greatest writers deserve to do, in some people's opinion. I've always been mostly moved by that stuff. It's hard for me to sit down and write some stupid love song that I don't believe. I lived in Nashville in the '80s, and I was able to witness the whole staff writing and people scheduling three writing appointments a day, and getting together with three different writers, and by the end of the day they had written at least three songs and they didn't believe any of them, but they hoped they would all make some money. And it just really turned me off to that whole approach to writing.

So I try to take my cues from the people that I think are the greatest writers out there. Starting with Dylan, and of course you know, John Lennon and McCartney and people like Neil Young, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell, Rickie Lee Jones, and Tom Waits. I try to learn from those people as much as I can. I am a completely different person, I am a completely different type of artist than all of those people, so however much I learn from them is going to be filtered through my brain and applied to a completely different approach toward music. So some people may read that these people are influences on me and go, "Wow, I don't really hear that," but lyrically speaking, they are. I am fortunate in the way that as a singer, I am influenced by my favorite singers. As a writer, I am influenced by my favorite writers. As a guitar player, I am influenced by my favorite musicians, and so I am able to mix those three categories together and see what comes out.

 
When I listen to my favorite songwriters, I have always been pulled into the real dark personal pieces, you know. The ones that I feel like are exposing raw nerve.
--Warren Haynes
Photo by Andy Tennille
 

In terms of your songwriting alone, I have noticed that a lot of your songs deal with love in various forms, yet you've been married for a few years. Can you easily project yourself as a songwriter into other people's shoes or circumstances and take their viewpoints, or is this Warren talking about something that is going on in his life? Are a lot of these songs autobiographical?

I tend to write about characters that are based on either other people or people around me. Sometimes it might be something that I have heard about or read about or whatever, and then a character will be formed that has a certain amount of myself as a part of that character. But hardly ever is the character completely me. I kind of feel like, to write only about what goes in my life would be a pretty limiting scope, you know. But at the same time, a lot of my songs contain at least parts that are autobiographical. Most of my favorite writers take that same kind of approach. They come up with characters, and you can almost sense when that character becomes themselves, and when they take on other characters. That's the way that I tend to do it. I don't know if it's fortunate or unfortunate, but I'm around a lot of real characters. (Laughs) All my life, I have been around people that have struggled just to get through the day--whether it's emotionally, or chemically, whatever the case may be. I've lost a lot of friends through the years, and I try to learn from those experiences, but somehow they keep haunting you and creeping back into the things you write about as well. We're here to learn from all these experiences and sometimes it's hard to know what the lesson really is. Again, I do a lot of stream of consciousness writing where I write it down as fast as it will come out and go back later and try and figure out what really connects with me. So there is a lot of editing involved when I write that way.

Let's talk about the album here specifically. I just wanted to throw some song names out at you and just tell me about the recording of the song, how you wrote the song, whatever kind of interests you in terms of each song. And the first one I wanted to start out with is "Little Toy Brain."


Haynes & Abts by Adam George
"Little Toy Brain" I wrote quite a few years ago. It was definitely written way before Woody died. I think it has a Beatles influence, and at some point we would have probably recorded that song with Woody, because Woody was such a McCartney freak. He just adored McCartney's bass playing. Whenever he had an excuse to show that side of himself, he would love to do it.

We never worked that song up as a band while Woody was around, but at some point we had talked to McCartney's camp about him playing on the Deep End. Had he agreed to be part of that project, we would have recorded that song with him. It was kind of reserved for him at that point. I wrote a letter to McCartney, a very heartfelt letter saying that the reason we were reaching out to him was as a seminal bass player and not as a Beatle or a pop star. We were reaching out to the Paul McCartney the bass player, in the same way that we would reach out to Jaco Pastorius or James Jamerson if they were still alive. He contacted us and his camp said that he was very intrigued with the project and thought it was great, but he was just too busy to be part of it. But just the fact that we got a response made me feel good. So that song would have been done with Sir Paul, had that opportunity arose. And since it was already floating around in my brain, I thought we could go ahead and work it up as a band. With Danny and Andy, it just sounded amazing.

Yeah, I think it does too. Talk about "Bad Man Walking" a little bit.


Danny Louis by Mir Ali
"Bad Man Walking" was me and Danny sitting around in his little studio, working up a song. That song came together really quickly. Danny had this idea that turned into the intro, and then I came up with the riff that turned into the verse, and it just kept kind of falling into place. I was scribbling down lyrics while we were sitting there. The next thing you know, like an hour and a half later or something, we had this tune. Of course, we would continue to work on the arrangement and all that stuff in days and weeks to come, but it came together relatively quickly, which was nice. It's always nice to have something that funky or that upbeat as part of the overall picture. Andy's playing just brings that song to life.

Yeah, his playing is awesome on that track. He carries the deep end on that tune pretty well. What about "Lola Leave Your Light On?"


By George Weiss
That song was the last thing that we put together at the end of the record. I had this idea musically floating around in my head, and I put it on tape while we were in the studio. Matt had to fly to California the next day and we were pretty much done with recording. There were two song possibilities that we could have done at that point--one that we had worked on a little bit, and one that would turn out to be "Lola Leave Your Light On." So we sat down and worked on the music for a while and basically put a rough sketch of the music together. Then Matt flew home and it kind of turned into a song after he left.

I have a friend in North Carolina named Jeff Anders that I've co-written a few songs with. He is a musician that I grew up with and we stay in touch. He co-wrote the "High Cost of Low Living" on the last Allman Brothers record, and he also co-wrote "Tattoos and Cigarettes" on my solo record. A few years back, Jeff and I were talking about ideas one night, and he mentioned this song title he had--"Lola Leave Your Light On."

The day that we put together the music for this unknown song, we didn't even know if it was going to be ready in time for this record or not. So it was like two o'clock in the morning and the only person who ever calls me at two o'clock in the morning is Jeff. We're both up late. So at two a.m., I answer the phone and it's Jeff. And he goes, "Hey man, remember that title I gave you, 'Lola Leave Your Light On?' Did you ever do anything with that?" And I said, "Jeff call me back." (Laughs) I wrote the lyrics to "Lola Leave Your Light On" and called him back like an hour later and said, "I, just did, man." (Laughs) He gave me that title and it just fit perfectly into what I wanted the hook of the chorus to be. It was just one of those things that was meant to be. We laugh about it every time we talk now. It came together so quickly. I love it when that happens. "Bad Little Doggie" was kind of written that way. It just all came out so quick that we didn't really have time to question it. It was created in a similar way to Lola. We put the music down first, and then I wrote lyrics to it. It's funny, I said something to Danny or somebody toward the end of the day we recorded "Lola." I was like, "Well I'm hoping that this comes together like 'Bad Little Doggie' did." And sure enough that night, Jeff and I had that conversation, and I went back into the studio the next day and told the guys I had it.

That's a great story. Another of the songs on there that I think is pretty interesting is "New World Blues." Tell me a little about that.


By Jake Krolick
"New World Blues" is pretty new. I wrote that this year. It could have been late last year, but it wasn't too long before we went in the studio. I just felt like it was a strange juxtaposition of the verse and the chorus. They are so different from each other it is almost like they don't belong in the same song. But lyrically, that's what it cried out for, so I kind of tweaked it to try and make myself happy with that marriage. In the long run, we were able to kind of create this situation where the two worlds collide. I think the whole concept of "New World Blues" is that everybody is so ready today just to leave reality behind and not work on it, not make it better. Just try and find a means of escaping, in both good and bad ways.

That little jam that happened at the end of the song was totally unplanned. We just played it like that from start to finish and figured we could fade it out on the record. But we started listening to it and felt that we had to keep it. That jams represents the whole journey into the future. We thought that it sounds like the end of an album, that it sounds like the record is over. Like in the old days, you get up and take the needle off and take the vinyl off and put it back in its little sleeve. That is the way it felt to me. I love the interplay between Danny and me on that tune. Danny is just doing what he does best, which is playing this counter-call and response thing. When Danny and I got to know each other ten years ago when I was looking for a keyboard player, I went to his little studio and sat down and the two of us just played. And the call and response thing that we had together was what sold me, what made me go, "Yeah, this is the guy."

"Wine and Blood" is an interesting song. I like it, and I want to get your take on where the lyrics for that came from.


By Tony Stack
It's hard to say. It is kind of melancholy, almost Appalachian-kind of influence. Growing up in North Carolina, being surrounded by bluegrass and Appalachian music all my life, I feel like it taps back into some of that. It has that really lonesome feeling that a lot of those mountain songs had. That is a relatively new song too. I was a little concerned with being able to capture the mood of it having written it so recently. Sometimes with songs that I take that personally, I want them to marinate for a long time so I can really get a feel for what it is that I want them to sound like. When I worked it up with the band, it kind of took this whole vibe on itself. Everybody in the band was immediately drawn to it. I brought it in under the premise that it was one of my departure songs. And all three of the guys were like, "I love that song, we got to do that." So we quickly turned it into a band arrangement, and it is very different. I don't even know what to compare it to really. But I like the kind of lonesome quality that it has.

What about "Mr. Man?"


By Tony Stack
"Mr. Man" is a new song responding to the times. I wrote that during the fall tour of Phil and Friends late one night in my hotel room. And yeah, it obviously has the political statement, but it is also this fun, up-tempo song. For me, it was more about if we could go in to the studio and capture a version of this that is exciting start to finish and feels like it has something to say musically as well as lyrically. We tried a lot of different approaches on that tune. Danny started out playing a typical B3 through a Leslie on it, and he didn't like it. Although we liked his performance, he asked if he could rethink it and come back in a few days with a different approach on it. He decided to run the organ through a Marshall, like Deep Purple used to do in the late '60s. It has this real low-fi sound. Almost somewhere between a distorted guitar and a farfisa. It's got this borderline cheesy, lo-fi organ sound that kicks it to some weird, humorous place. When he came up with that, we were all like, "Yeah, now I see what you were trying to do." It made the song have a much more tongue-in-cheek quality. And it just seemed to fit the tune much more than the traditional organ thing. That song is weird in the way that it has '60s, '70s, and '80s influences all in one tune. I don't know that I could say that about any other Mule song.

"About The Rage?"

"About The Rage" was written during that same time period, last November. If you had to pick a song to describe the new direction of this band, I think "About The Rage" would be a nice representative. You know it is definitely Mule, but I can't really compare it to any thing that we have ever done. It has that merging of worlds too, where the verse sounds completely different than the chorus and there is a lot of different influences colliding, but hopefully becoming one sound.

Talk to me a little bit about "My Separate Reality."


By Kim Panzitta
That song is at least ten years old I would say. I wrote that song one of the first years that I moved to New York. I've always loved the tune. I had only played it on acoustic guitar, and acoustic guitar doesn't really capture it. I had always wanted to hear like at least a quartet, if not a bigger band, play it. It may have even been a candidate for Tales of Ordinary Madness. It might have gone back that far. When I wrote it, I wanted kind of a jazzy approach to it. At one point, I was thinking about an acoustic piano and upright bass and drums with brushes--a real kind of dark jazz approach to it. In my mind, I was probably saving it for what would become my next solo record. Once Andy and Danny became full time members of Gov't Mule, I thought that we could really play that song great, cause I never felt like it was a trio song. I felt like it had to have keyboards. So we just worked it up and instantly it was amazing. People were taking a little bit different approach to it than I envisioned, but it was all for the better.

We used to work that tune up at sound check on the road. We made a point that we weren't going to perform any of these songs live because we didn't want to give them away. We didn't want to spoil the surprise. With all the tapers these days and the way the world is, it's hard to keep things under wraps. With the new Allman Brothers record, with the exception of one song, the tapers were trading every song that wound up on the record. And in some cases, people had made compilations of their favorite live versions of the songs they thought would be on the album. People get spoiled by listening to versions that way before the record comes out. They are more attached to those versions than they are to the one that the band thinks is the definitive one. We really wanted to avoid that, so we made the decision to not play any of these songs live. Some of them we would play at sound check when there was nobody in the building, but we didn't perform them. And that was the case with "My Separate Reality." There was about a week where we played that song every day at sound check, and it just came together beautifully. I thought that I'd really like to record it. I think that is the first take of that song. We went back a few times just to see if we could beat it, but we went back to the first one in the end.

Last song--"Perfect Shelter."


Haynes at Bonnaroo 2004 : By Weintrob
"Perfect Shelter" is a fairly new one as well. It has that Hendrix vibe about it. It also has a little bit of a Sly and the Family Stone vibe about it too. Maybe there is some sort of Larry Graham influence in the chorus in a subtle sort of way. "Perfect Shelter" came pretty quickly and was one of those tunes that we just needed to capture the raw vibe of it. Danny's organ part really is what kind of glued it all together. The guitar "wa wa" stuff is all live stuff that I am playing on the track while I am singing, and that is part of what gives it that real Hendrix sound, the old-school approach to recording. We just wanted that groove to kind of sell the tune. It's that black gospel-meets funk-meets Hendrix-meets blues kind of thing. The lyrics are just pro-life. I don't mean pro-life in an anti-abortion way. I mean when you lived through death, and losing friends and people important to you, the message is that you learn how important life really is and how to live it from that day forward. It is very much about how we are all in the same exact boat. None of us are immune to the bullshit or threats. That's what makes us all the same. We share that mortality.

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Andy Tennille
JamBase | San Francisco
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