Thanks to tours with The Dead and the Allman Brothers Band, a new Gov't Mule album and tour and a planned solo album, Warren Haynes is having his busiest year ever -- and is enjoying it immensely.
"I think it's a matter of having opportunities that are available," Haynes tells Billboard.com. "Gov't Mule is a laboratory I need to keep going all the time. The Allman Brothers...has been amazing, but I know at some point it's going to slow down, and the same with The Dead. I don't expect to always be this busy, but I don't want to look back a few years from now and go, 'Yeah, they asked me to do a Dead tour but I was too busy.' "
Haynes is currently on the road with Gov't Mule, though the band has pushed the release of its new album, "By A Thread," back from its original July 28 release (a new date is pending). The quartet recorded its first studio set since 2006's "High & Mighty" at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio in Texas, with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons guesting on the track "Broke Down on the Brazos." It also marks the group's first studio recording with bassist Jorgen Carlsson, who joined the Mule in 2008.
"I had a lot of songs already written for the record, but we wrote three or four songs in the studio and that's something very different for us," Haynes reports. "We might get one new song written in the studio per record if we're lucky, but never three or four. There's just something fresh about what's going on in the band; it's a very transitional period, but everybody is really excited."
Haynes is also enthused about the eventual release of a solo album he recorded that he says "hearkens back to my earliest influences...soul music but it also kind of sounds like when Freddie King and B.B. King and Albert King did their more crossover records, where they were mixing funk and soul with blues." Haynes recorded the album with Meters bassist George Porter, Jr., Ivan Neville and Ian McLagan on keyboardist and Ron Holloway on saxophone. Neville and Ruthie Foster sing, along with Haynes.
"I'm really excited about it," says Haynes, who hasn't yet set a release date for the solo set. "I did two records back to back, solo and Gov't Mule, both at the same studio with Gordie Johnson co-producing, but they couldn't sound more different. It's really bizarre."
As for his other concerns, Haynes says he's confident the Dead is "going to do some more," especially with the group's 45th anniversary in 2010. And the Allmans, he says are "really clicking right now" as the group prepares for a run of dates in mid-August. The band is also "talking" about recording: "We have maybe half of a record written now, maybe even more than half," Haynes reports, adding that there are no concrete studio plans yet.