Exclusive First Listen: Gov't Mule

GRAMMY-nominated Southern rock band debut two versions of new song "When The World Gets Small," including one featuring guest vocalist Steve Winwood, only on
  • Photo: Anna Webber
    Gov't Mule
September 03, 2013 -- 9:31 am PDT
By Interview by J. Poet /

GRAMMY-nominated Southern rock band Gov't Mule are set to release their new studio album, Shout!, on Sept. 24. Ahead of the double album's release, has your exclusive first listen to two versions of "When The World Gets Small," one featuring Gov't Mule and the other featuring GRAMMY winner Steve Winwood on lead vocals. In addition to the track debut, conducted a brief interview with Gov't Mule frontman and GRAMMY winner Warren Haynes.

Does the album title, Shout!, have any significance?
It has a couple of meanings. Having guest vocalists [such as Toots Hibbert, Dave Matthews, Grace Potter, and Steve Winwood] is something to shout about and shines more light on the new songs. The other meaning is reflected in the artwork, which is based on Cold War propaganda posters and American protest art. From a political standpoint, it's time to speak up and shout out to change the political landscape. We made this record after taking a year off for the first time and it's a culmination of everything we've done up to this point. It shows off all our influences.

Does Gov't Mule record everything live?
Yes, you get a better performance if you're all in one room together. This time [keyboard player] Danny [Louis] played a lot of guitar, as well as keys. On "Captured" and "Funny Little Tragedy" … he played live before his keyboard parts were added later. We worked on this record for two years and started writing songs and making demos in L.A. during GRAMMY Week [in] 2012. Some of those first demos were so good that they made it onto the record.

What new experiences did you encounter making this album?
We like to work fast and did the basic recording in about 10 days. When we decided to do a second record with guest vocalists, we had to expand that, but it was a pretty quick process in general. I had conversations with each singer and told them I never sing a song I don't feel a connection to, so if you don't like a song, don't sing it. I tried to match every guest with a song I thought they'd like. I'm proud of the fact that I got them all right. We got to go into the studio with Ben Harper, Elvis Costello and Grace Potter, which was great. I also wrote my first song on piano, "When The World Gets Small," thinking about Traffic and Steve Winwood. When he agreed to sing on it, it took the song full circle, back to its inspiration.

As a member of the Allman Brothers Band, you were honored with a Recording Academy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. Do you have any memorable experiences from the ceremony?
It was great to get a Lifetime Achievement Award, but I was even more psyched for the original members who started the band in 1969. The music we're playing today is very challenging; the opposite of a nostalgia act, and I'm glad they recognized the fact that we're still making vibrant, inspired music. That night, I got to reconnect with George Jones, who was a big hero of mine, and talk with Glen Campbell, who is fighting his battle with Alzheimer's. It was also great to share the stage with Derek Trucks and Gregg [Allman]. The three of us were all nominated separately for Best Blues Album [at the 54th GRAMMY Awards].

Formed in 1994, Gov't Mule earned a GRAMMY nomination in 2002 for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for "Sco-Mule." Set for release Sept. 24, Shout! marks the group's first studio album since 2009's By A Thread. The double album features one disc of 11 new songs performed by Gov't Mule and a companion disc featuring an all-star lineup of guest vocalists reinterpreting the same tracks. Special guest vocalists include GRAMMY winners Costello, Dr. John, Ben Harper, Dave Matthews, Toots And The Maytals' Toots Hibbert, and Winwood and Glenn Hughes, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Alter Bridge's Myles Kennedy, and Potter, among others.

Gov't Mule comprise Matt Abts (drums), Jorgen Carlsson (bass), Haynes (guitars/vocals), and Louis (keyboards/vocals). The group will embark on a North American tour beginning Sept. 5 in Arrington, Va., with dates scheduled through November.

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