Gov’t Mule will release “The Deep End Vol. 1,” its first studio album since the August 2000 death of founding bassist Allen Woody, Oct. 23 via ATO. The project — comprising the upcoming album, a second studio set due next spring, and a documentary film — finds singer/guitarist Warren Haynes and drummer Matt Abts recording with a cast of 25 bass players, including the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea and the Grateful Dead’s Phil Lesh.
The 13-track set is comprised of nine songs written or co-written by Haynes and four covers including a take of Grand Funk Railroad’s “Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” recorded with Woody before his death.
“The inspiration was really not knowing how to continue forward,” says Haynes, who formed Gov’t Mule with Woody, a fellow Allman Brothers Band-mate, as a side project that became their primary musical outlet. “When Woody passed away, we were in the middle of preparing for what would be the next Gov’t Mule record anyway. We didn’t know how to continue that process — we didn’t want to start auditioning bass players to try to find a permanent replacement. So the idea came about that all of our favorite bass players might be too busy to join the band, or even do a whole tour, but maybe they wouldn’t be too busy to do one song.”
Other bassists who appear on “Vol. 1” are Bootsy Collins (P-Funk), Mike Watt (Minutemen, fIREHOSE), Jack Bruce (Cream), John Entwistle (the Who), Larry Graham (Sly & the Family Stone, Prince), Willy Weeks (David Bowie, George Harrison), Chris Wood (Medeski Martin & Wood), Stefan Lessard (Dave Matthews Band), Mike Gordon (Phish), and Deep Purple’s Roger Glover, who plays on a cover of his band’s “Maybe I’m a Leo.”
“All these guys are different from each other,” he adds, “and the array of influences really covers the whole gamut, but they’re all people who influenced us, especially Woody. They are all people who found their way into his playing.”
The album’s guest list isn’t limited to bassists, however, as it boasts Allman Brothers Band members Gregg Allman, Derek Trucks, and Oteil Burbridge, as well as guitarists Audley Freed (Black Crowes) and John Scofield, and keyboardists Page McConnell (Phish), Chuck Leavell (Rolling Stones), and Bernie Worrell (P-Funk). The set also features vocals by Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell, keyboards by Eddie Harsch (Black Crowes), Danny Louis (Jules Shear), Randall Bramblett (Sea Level), and Rob Barraco (Zen Tricksters), as well as horn players Keith Barry, Mike Uhler, and Dan Weinstein.
The documentary chronicling the recording process of the project, directed by Gordon, is due out on DVD and VHS this winter. The film features interviews with Haynes and Abts, along with all of the guest bass players, as well as extensive studio footage.
The second volume of “The Deep End” will follow in spring 2002. That album features performances by bassists Me’shell N’degeocello, Les Claypool (Primus/Oysterhead), and George Porter, Jr. (the Meters, Tori Amos), among others. A final track listing for “Vol. 2” has not yet been determined.
Earlier this month, Gov’t Mule kicked off a two-month U.S. tour in support of “The Deep End,” which tonight (Sept. 18) hits the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Ore. Widespread Panic’s Dave Schools (bass) and keyboardist Leavell round out the live lineup. Claypool will join for Thursday’s show in San Francisco, while Burbridge will take over for Schools beginning Sept. 27 in Kansas City, Mo.
The tour is slated to run through Oct. 27, when the group will play New Orleans’ annual Voodoo Fest during the day, and a late show at the House of Blues in the evening. Visit the band’s official Web site for the full list of tour dates.
Here is the full track list for “The Deep End Vol. 1”:
“Fool’s Moon” (Jack Bruce, bass/vocals; Bernie Worrell, organ/clavinet)
“Life on the Outside” (Larry Graham, bass/vocals; Audley Freed, guitar;
Eddie Harsch, organ/clavinet)
“On the Banks of the Deep End” (Mike Gordon, bass/background vocals; Danny Louis, organ/Wurlitzer)
“Down & Out In NYC” (Flea, bass; Rob Barraco, organ/Wurlitzer; Keith Barry, trumpet; Mike Uhler, tenor sax; Dan Weinstein, trombone)
“Effigy” (Mike Watt, bass; Jerry Cantrell, background vocals)
“Maybe I’m a Leo” (Roger Glover on bass; Randall Bramblett, organ)
“Same Price” (John Entwistle, bass; Page McConnell, organ/clavinet)
“Soulshine” (Willy Weeks, bass; Little Milton, guitar/vocals; Chuck Leavell, organ/Wurlitzer)
“Sco Mule” (Chris Wood, bass; John Scofield, guitar; Worrell, organ/clavinet)
“Worried Down With the Blues” (Oteil Burbridge, bass; Derek Trucks, guitar; Gregg Allman, organ/vocals)
“Beautifully Broken” (Stefan Lessard, bass; Louis, organ/Wurlitzer)
“Tear Me Down” (Collins, bass/vocals; Worrell, organ/mini-Moog)
“Sin’s a Good Man’s Brother” (Allen Woody, bass)