In this week's print edition of the Press, Warren Haynes talks about juggling his membership in the Alpha and Omega of jam bands, the Allman Brothers Band and The Dead, with the musclebound blues-rock engine he started in 1994, Gov't Mule. The Mule pulls into House of Blues Saturday night on the brawny shoulders of last year's By a Thread, which opens with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons guesting on the river-bottom stomp of "Broke Down on the Brazos."
Gibbons, Haynes told us, is one of the most laid-back people he's ever met, but "Gregg Allman's a pretty close tie." That's where the print interview left off, but the 23rd greatest guitarist of all time (according to Rolling Stone) had a lot more to say besides.
Rocks Off: As a musician, is one of your projects more demanding than the others?
Warren Haynes: Well, Gov't Mule is the most demanding, with me being the only singer and being something that kind of depends on us. It was even more demanding when it was a trio. A trio is a very demanding format. Quartet, not quite as much, but everybody's gotta be on their toes at all times.
RO: So it's easier if there's more musicians in the band?
WH: Than three? Yeah.
RO: Or with the Allmans. Is it just that you have to carry less of the weight?
WH: Yeah, I guess you can kind of put it that way.
RO: When you record, it is pretty much all live or is there a lot of studio work? Or is it the sort of band where you work up the songs and then hit it?
WH: We record predominantly live. All the guitar solos for the most part are live on the track. We're all tracking live in the same room looking at each other as the music is being played. I go back and redo the vocals, and if there's anything else we need to add we'll do it after the fact. But for the most part it's pretty much live recording.
RO: Do you rehearse much with the group, or do you need to because you play together so often?
WH: We rehearse a lot when it's time to make a record. In general, we're not a band that rehearses a lot.
RO: How long have you known Billy Gibbons?
WH: I guess we've known each other since the early '90s.
RO: When you get together, do you swap guitar shop talk?
WH: We have a lot of common interests, especially musically speaking. We talk old blues and stuff like that a lot. He's really great to hang out with, and we were honored to have him be part of this. He doesn't do a lot of recording on other people's records. It's such an amazing contribution on this one.