Gov’t Mule’s Lead Vocalist Laments What Technology Has Done to Musicians

See the band at the Miller Theater, on their third trip to Augusta in recent years

via Metro Spirit

Gov’t Mule returns to Augusta for the third time in the past handful of years on the night of Friday, Oct. 19, with a performance at the Miller Theater.

On Tuesday, the Metro Spirit had the opportunity to catch up with co-founder, lead vocalist and guitarist Warren Haynes at his home in Asheville, where he was catching up on family time with a three-week break after a long stretch on the road. The band heads back out this week for another 2 1/2 weeks, then back home to prepare for the annual end-of-the-year projects Mule does annually, the biggest of which are the Christmas and New Year’s Eve shows. Haynes co-founded the band back in 1994, during a break from the Allman Brothers Band.

He began by talking about his now-7-year-old son, who sounds like he might be a prodigy in the making.

“He just turned 7,” Haynes said. “Yeah he’s something else.”

An obviously proud and loving father, Haynes couldn’t help but brag on his boy a little.

“He’s playing drums; he has a really good voice. He messes around with guitar some, but he’s really into drums. He’s actually surprisingly good; he has quite a knack for it. It seems like it’s something he connects with.”

As Haynes is busy touring and raising the next generation of musicians, one of his songs comes to mind. “Who wrote Click Drag Rock?” A song which rails against the way technology has crept into music at an alarming pace. He chuckled and said “I wrote the song. We still haven’t played it yet. I’m looking forward to bringing it out. You know we’ve been doing so many things that some of that stuff from the deluxe edition hasn’t made its way to the stage yet. We rehearsed it since we recorded it, (and) it feels great. I’m looking forward to playing it. (The song’s) more specifically about music these days, but I do have a beef with technology in general, but that’s a separate issue” Haynes said.

“In general, the way modern music, and rock music specifically, is going, it’s kind of missing a lot of the ingredients that made it great in the first place. That song in a weird way is kind of written through the eyes of, say, if Jimi Hendrix heard today’s music. I think part of the inspiration for it got triggered. … I was in a recording studio and there was a sign on the wall … it was a picture of the Beatles, and it said ‘do you hear autotune? I think not.’ Or something like that. So that’s where that line ‘would you autotune the Beatles’ came from.”

Haynes said that the bar was set extremely high for all the music that people fell in love when he was growing up — especially for the singers — because they had to nail it in a short period of time, and many times, it was a live performance.

“Like when you were recording Otis Redding, you better get the first two or three takes because those were his best takes,” Haynes said. “And that’s what the world has lived with historically speaking, since then … those performances. They did those performances in like 15 minutes. Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, all of them. A lot of the great rock music that we all grew up, the singers had to come in there and deliver on a moment’s notice. And now, with the advent of all the modern technology and taking 100 takes to get a vocal performance, it makes it easier to convince people that they are hearing something great when maybe they are not.”

Haynes said Gov’t Mule records as live as they possibly can — especially the music, which he said they record almost completely live. He added that’s different from what most bands do nowadays.

“We’re completely allergic to the concept of recording one instrument at a time. We’re trying to capture the chemistry of the band, and the only way to do that is if all of us are playing together,” he said. “I just prefer that as a musician, as a listener, as a fan. I think the music really benefits from that kind of process.”

With all that touring, we were curious when the band finds the time to rehearse.

“It depends. We’re gonna be rehearsing on the road this time out, and we got a couple of days off to rehearse in the middle of the tour, as well. It really varies from year to year.”

When asked whether they ever rehearse on the tour bus, Haynes said, “Real, bonafide rehearsals are with everybody set up, full band, but we do bus rehearsals, as well. As we’re traveling down the highway, we’re playing in a much smaller environment, stripped down with tiny little amps and maybe Matt beating on a hand drum or just playing sticks on the sofa. Or something like that. That’s no substitute for actual rehearsal. But it’s a great way to pass the time, learn the stuff and all talk about it. You know just kind of puts us all on the same page.