After an illustrious career spanning over 20 studio and live albums spanning nearly three decades, how do you continue to grow and reinvent your work as a band? It turns out that going back to the beginning is a good place to start. At Heavy load blues, Haynes, alongside his band mates, chose to create their first album dedicated to the blues; a body of work consisting of original songs, unreleased covers and proven blues standards that have been incorporated into their live set.
Recorded live on analog tape at Power Station Studios New England in Connecticut alongside Joe Paterno (Michael Landau, Steve Gadd), Gov’t Mule chose to put together a series of small vintage amps – including deals Gibson and Supro from the 1950s – allowing Haynes to use a combination of three different amps for each song. Throughout the 13 included songs, the group evolves between embellishing blues favorites with improvised jams halfway through, as we hear on their version of Junior Wells’ Catch it up and hold it, to add thunderous rock pomp to a dark Howlin ‘Wolf classic.
The album comes in standard and deluxe editions, the latter offering eight additional songs with expanded live versions and additional tracks spanning Otis Rush, Muddy Waters and more. Below, Haynes discusses his favorite guitar parts from the album, with Gibson SGs from the 60s and his beloved Fender spring reverb from the 60s picking up radio frequencies at perfect points in the song. There’s even room for his ’59 Les Paul, just in case.
Love is a nasty old world
“I wrote this with my friends Rick Huckaby and Ray Sisk and thought it would fit perfectly into this album. For recordings I installed a bunch of small vintage amps with my little Alessandro recording amp and could choose a combination of up to three amps at any time. On this track I play a Plummer electric resonator guitar tuned to Open G using a combination of a 1950s Supro, 1950s Gibson Vanguard and Alessandro and sing through an amp. Danelectro Maestro from the 1950s, which we recorded for most of the songs. We cut the track live with Danny Louis, our keyboardist, playing a Telecaster through a 1950s Gibson Skylark and added the piano after the fact, which was one of the few overdubs on the record.
Catch it and hold it – hold it back – catch it and hold it
“I’ve always liked the original version of it, which was recorded in 1965 by Junior Wells with Buddy Guy, but it only lasts about 2:49. We decided to take our own jam in the middle and spread it out. This recording is the first take and I’m playing on Allen Woody’s late ’60s Gibson SG Custom that I borrowed for the session and replacing the Vanguard with a Skylark for the amp combination. For the vocal sound, I alternate between the normal microphone and a “bullet” microphone plugged into a Fender Champ tweed. On the live take, Danny played his Blaze guitar through a Fender Super Reverb and kept it strapped to his back when he played the organ in the middle of the jam. The only overdub is the organ during the guitar solo in the main body of the song which was an afterthought.
Make it rain
“There is an infamous story with the recording of this Tom Waits cover. I had brought my Fender Spring Reverb Tank from the 1960s that I wanted to use for this song, those who have used them know they can be extremely finicky. We’ve ensured it a solid location to avoid that awful sound they make when shaken, but we didn’t count on the radio interference that triggered it multiple times during the Guardian’s take, oddly enough in the poignant moments. I play on an old Danelectro guitar from the 1950s.
Want to break down someone’s house
“This song was originally recorded by Ann Peebles, but was also covered by Johnny Adams, Etta James and Albert King, which certainly influenced our version which evolved after several years of playing on stage. other songs we recorded on this album were rarely or never played. For this take I played on my 1959 Gibson Les Paul which has a very unique sound. The Deluxe Edition version is three minutes long. more and has a live ending instead of disappearing.
I asked her for water (she gave me gasoline)
“I’m a huge Howlin ‘Wolf fan and although we covered other Wolf songs on stage, we never did this one. Since I have always considered Howlin ‘Wolf to be the heaviest of the blues giants and this song was one of his heaviest songs, we wanted to give it a bit of a heavier treatment to honor the meanness of the original version. from 1956. This version was the first song we recorded forHeavy load bluesand was the first and only take. This set the tone and raised the bar for the rest of the recording.
Gov’t Mule’s new album, Heavy Load Blues, releases November 12 on Fantasy Records.