Nine cameras were rolling and Danny Clinch was directing, but that didn't make a great deal of difference to Gov't Mule during its two-night April 2018 stand in Portsmouth, N.Y.
"We were just doing what we always do, playing music," guitarist Warren Haynes tells Billboard about the new film and live album Bring On the Music — Live at the Capitol Theatre, whose trailer is premiering exclusively below. It was a lot of music as well — more than six hours between the two nights, with only two songs repeated, and in different arrangements between the two nights. The film also features interviews with the four band members and Gov't Mule fans, as well as backstage footage.
"At the time the 25th anniversary of our band was looming a year away, so it seemed like we needed to document where the band is right now," Haynes says, adding that the Mule "is in a really good place, musically and personally. We've been consistently feeling great about our shows, and it's quite amazing that a band that's been together this long still gets along as well as we do. In a lot of bands that just doesn't happen. But since the beginning it's been important for us to keep evolving and changing with each release, and we keep adding new influences or different influences. I think that keeps it always interesting for us."
Haynes adds that the Mule also wanted Bring On the Music to showcase the relationship between the band and its fans. "That's a big part of what this whole thing is about," he says, "the appreciation for the fact that we not only have an audience that's still growing but that always allows us to be ourselves in a way we don't take for granted. They're part of the journey, and without being in front of a great audience like that we wouldn't be capable of what we do on stage. When you think about the fact that so many of our fans have been to so many shows through the years and continue coming to see what's gonna happen next, that's pretty great."
Among Bring on the Music's musical highlights are a cover of Pearl Jam's "Comeback," which Haynes describes as "Eddie Vedder writing an Otis Redding song"; Gov't Mule worked it up the afternoon before a show and played it that night. "We said if it's good we'll keep it, and if not we won't." The set also brings back rarely played songs such as "Far Away" and "Life Before Insanity," as well as a cover of Grand Funk Railroad's "Sin's a Good Man's Brother" that was founding bassist Allen Woody's final studio recording with Gov't Mule before his death in 2000. "We didn't want many covers," Haynes explains. "We wanted it to be Gov't Mule music. As much music as it is, we thought it should be Gov't Mule for the most part."
With Bring on the Music out June 28, Gov't Mule next plays at Mountain Jam on June 14-15 in Bethel, N.Y. and has festival and headlining dates booked into September. There's also new music in the works, though Haynes says it's still in its early stages.
"I've been doing a lot of writing in a lot of different directions and haven't narrowed down where it's all headed just yet," he says. "I've been writing a couple of instrumental songs, which has been something we've been talking about, bringing back some of the old approaches to Mule instrumentals. I've also been writing stuff that's completely different, and I don't know where it's going to wind up. So we're only talking about what kind of record we want to make; Right now we're excited about (Bring on the Music) and getting it out."
The full Bring on the Music track list includes:
1. Hammer & Nails
2. Thorazine Shuffle
3. Larger Than Life
4. Forsaken Savior
5. Broke Down On The Brazos
6. Endless Parade
7. Lola Leave Your Light On
8. Blind Man In The Dark
9. Raven Black Night
1. Traveling Tune (alternate version)
2. Stone Cold Rage
3. Whisper In Your Soul
4. Little Toy Brain
5. Trane > Eternity’s Breath > St. Stephen (jam)
6. Pressure Under Fire
7. Fool’s Moon
8. Revolution Come, Revolution Go (alternate version)
9. Bring On The Music
Traveling Tune (part 1)
Drawn That Way
The Man I Want To Be
Funny Little Tragedy > Message In A Bottle > Funny Little Tragedy
Sin’s A Good Man’s Brother
Life Before Insanity
Thorns Of Life
Revolution Come, Revolution Go
No Need To Suffer
Dreams & Songs
Time To Confess
Bring On The Music
Traveling Tune (part 2)
Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground
Bonus DVD content:
Traveling Tune video (Warren Haynes solo)
Rare photos by Danny Clinch of the band through the years