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Gov't Mule Premieres 'Dreams & Songs,' Warren Haynes Reflects on His Lengthy Career

Jacob Blickenstaff
Gov't Mule

After celebrating 20 years and then taking a few years to work on other projects, Gov't Mule's upcoming Revolution Come...Revolution Go is "the new chapter opening up for the band," according to founder Warren Haynes.

The 12-song set, Gov't Mule's 10th studio album, comes out June 9 -- with the aching, soulful "Dreams & Songs" premiering exclusively below -- and finds the quartet rested and refreshed. "I think taking some time away and everybody doing something else for awhile and accumulating a bunch of new songs we were all just kind of champing at the bit to get back together and get back in the studio," Haynes tells Billboard. "I think being on the other side of our 20th anniversary was cool, so when we made (2013's guest-filled) Shout! we were looking at that as a culmination and this album is a new beginning and a clean slate, so to speak. Getting through 20 years is no small feat for any band, especially one that never knew they were gonna do another record. Now it's just like, 'Where are we headed? What are we gonna do?' It's pretty exciting."

Gov't Mule recorded Revolution Come... primarily with longtime collaborator Gordie Johnson (Big Sugar) in Austin, Texas, but also worked on a pair of tracks for with Don Was, with whom Haynes recently toured as part of the recent The Last Waltz 40th anniversary tour. "Dreams & Songs" was one of those, and Haynes feels like it has the Was touch on it. "He steps in the room with the band while we're tracking and sits in the room with us," Haynes says. "He's got headphones on and sits on the floor with us while we're playing, which is interesting. He was really easy to work with, as I knew he would be, but he also had a lot of great ideas and suggestions. That song is really personal to me, and he knew that. He wanted to capture an early take and we wound up keeping the very first take we did. As soon as we recorded it he looked around and said, 'That sounds like a record.' We tried it a few more times but went back to the first one. I really enjoyed that kind of approach to it."

Haynes deems "Dreams & Songs" autobiographical, reflecting on a career that started professionally with David Allan Coe’s band in 1980 and has gone through the Dickey Betts Band, the Allman Brothers Band, the Dead, Phil Lesh & Friends and more.

"It's about looking back at your life and family and changes," Haynes explains, "and the general message is you never go back home -- not in the literal sense of the word but things have a way of growing in their own directions and you wake up one day and look at everything you've been through and think, 'Wow, how did I get here?' It's a journey and you look back on it. I'm very grateful for the opportunities that I've had, but it's been a wild ride and in some ways has gone so much quicker than I would ever expect. Thankfully I'm still going strong and my career's as good as it's ever been. I'm thankful for that."

Haynes and company return to the road on May 17 at Summerstage in New York's Central Park and have dates booked through the summer in North America and Europe, with hopes of also heading to Japan, Australia and other territories. "It's time for us to promote the new record and kind of put blinders on for awhile," says Haynes, who did play in a recent all-star tribute to Merle Haggard in Nashville and will be part of the Second Weekend at the Saenger tribute to Little Feat's "Waiting For Columbus" on Saturday in New Orleans. "I'm not really looking at other things for the moment, but I'm very excited about promoting this record."

Haynes also joined former Allmans mate Derek Trucks in paying a visit to Gregg Allman in Savannah, Ga., recently amidst recent rumors of Allman being in poor health. "From my perspective that's not the case," says Haynes, who declined to talk more about Allman's health. "We had not seen him in awhile, so it was good to catch up. We just told stories for a few hours and gave him some positive thoughts." Any of the Allmans reunion rumors, including some started by Gregg, remain unfounded, and unlikely, however. "I didn't see it happening before Butch (Trucks) died, and especially after that I could pretty much close the door on it," Haynes says.