STORY WRITTEN BY GARY GRAFF
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Gov’t Mule is getting ready to start recording its next album.
But before that the group is happy to be living in a little bit of its past.
The recently released “The Tel-Star Sessions” hails from the group’s vaults, some 1994 recordings in Bradenton, Fla., by the original quartet of singer-guitarist Warren Haynes, drummer Matt Abts and the late bassist Allen Woody. It was one of a number of tapes Haynes unearthed as the group was preparing for its 20th anniversary a couple of years ago, and the guitarist felt like the work should see the light of day.
“When I heard it I really found myself smiling, and it reminded me of those days” Haynes, 56 — who co-founded Gov’t Mule with Woody as a side project from their regular gig with the Allman Brothers Band. “I was kind of instantly transported back to those sessions, which were fond memories of a really fun time in our life and the kind of birth of the band.
“We were kind of becoming a band at that point. We were starting to figure out it was more than a side project, that it was something we should devote more time to.”
Gov’t Mule has changed since then, of course. Jorgen Carlsson became full-time on bass in 2008, eight years after Woody’s death. And in 2002 the group expanded to include Danny Louis on keyboards, trumpet and second guitar. But Haynes says the current incarnation still shares a spirit in common with the original trio.
“You can hear this unspoken chemistry that the three of us were just playing instinctually and not having to talk about who does what,” Haynes recalls. “I feel like we have that now, too, and I’m glad it turned out this way because it’s been an amazing journey. Where the band is right now, it’s extremely gratifying and unpredictable and comfortable. We’re having a great time.”
Haynes says he did get a recent email from Gregg Allman talking about maybe bring the Allmans back together, although Haynes views it as “just planting a seed.” Next up for Gov’t Mule is its 11th studio album, which will take shape once the group hits the studio later this year.
“Just breaking new ground and going somewhere we’ve never gone before, musically speaking, is the exiting part,” Haynes says. “I do think in light of the 20th anniversary and ‘The Tel-Star Sessions’ some of the early stages of the Mule are going to find themselves back into the vocabulary. It’s just going to be whatever feels natural to us, which is really the way we’ve always done it, from the start.”