In October, Gov’t Mule released a DVD and CD of the group’s six-hour Deepest End concert, at which dozens of guest stars joined the band to pay tribute to Allen Woody, Gov’t Mule’s original bassist, who died in 2000. The show followed up on two albums where the world’s greatest bassists — Jack Bruce, Bootsy Collins and John Entwistle, among many others — filled in for Woody and helped the band push through a difficult time. Gov’t Mule recently named Andy Hess as their permanent bassist.
We caught up with Haynes in the recording studio on Monday to chat about the DVDs, the band’s future and their upcoming Indianapolis show.
NUVO: First of all, I have to ask you, do you ever get any rest at all?
Haynes: (Laughs) The last three years have been the busiest of my life, I’m sure, and this year looks like it’ll be no exception. I took some time off in December, but it’s been a pretty busy time. It’s work that I love, you know.
NUVO: Replacing a band member is never easy, even under the best circumstances, so I was wondering how you went about picking Andy Hess to join the group.
Haynes: One of the most important things about picking the right bass player for Gov’t Mule is that we cover so much ground, musically speaking. We’re influenced by a lot of different types of music, and he’s schooled in all of the different genres. It’s worked out great. We’ve played with tons of ’em, and it was amazing playing with so many legendary musicians, so it’s a pretty tall compliment that we chose him.
NUVO: Talk about the show that produced the new DVD and CD. It seems like something that would appeal to both the diehard fans and new listeners alike.
Haynes: It was the longest show we’ve ever played. It was six hours long and we had 25 guest musicians and 13 bass players. It was just one of those magical nights that you could never expect or count on. We knew it was going to be special, because of all of the wonderful people who were there, but it turned out beyond our imagination.
NUVO: Have you ever thought about what Woody would have thought about that night?
Haynes: He would have to be smiling, having all of those wonderful people together in his honor, and especially all of those great bass players. It’s taken a lot to fill Woody’s shoes, and it’s been a long process getting there. We’re definitely not trying to compare the past to the future. We’re just continuing on what we think is the best course available. The band has taken on a new sound, I guess. It’s definitely opened a new chapter for Gov’t Mule. We’re very pleased with the new direction and it was kind of the direction where we headed in before Woody died, anyway.
NUVO: Rolling Stone named you the 23rd greatest guitarist in rock history, above a lot of great guitarists. How did that make you feel?
Haynes: It was definitely flattering. I was very honored to be part of that list at all, especially that high up. It’s not the same list I would have made, but I was honored.
NUVO: The mainstream press has always wanted to classify you guys as a power trio, or a jam band, when it seems like neither really completely applies to you.
Haynes: It’s hard to categorize music, especially music that takes different genres and mixes them together. The Allman Brothers were never happy with being called “Southern rock,” and I don’t think anyone’s happy being called a jam band or power trio. But when we did our first record, we were definitely taking a cue from Cream and Hendrix and Free and bands like that were either trios or a trio with a frontman. We felt like that part of rock and roll was missing in action and we kind of wanted to fill that void. But it was a starting point for us and we’ve continued to grow since then.