Man In Motion is an apt title for Warren Haynes’ first solo album in 19 years. You’d be struggling to find a harder working musician than Haynes who holds down lead guitar spots in four major projects; The Allman Brothers, Government Mule, The Grateful Dead and his own solo project. The mode in which we’ll see him for this tour is a variation of his solo project featuring an all-star band. Those who catch Haynes at Bluefest or any of his national side shows, are in for a treat. Among his band you’ll find genuine music royalty including Ron Holloway (sax player to Sonny Rollins and Dizzy Gillespie), Terence Higgins (drummer for Fats Domino, Dr John and John Scofield) and Ruthie Foster (a Bluefest regular who we’ve seen appear with the Jools Holland Orchestra many times). However, what Haynes is best known for is his guitar playing. Guitar nerds will recall Haynes being voted the 23rd best guitarist of all time in a famous poll by Rolling Stone magazine and that’s the angle Australian Musician’s own guitar picker SHANNON BOURNE was keen to explore.
SB: You have been using the Paul Reed Smith amps, and I see Derek Trucks has done so too.
What bought you to those?
WH: Paul brought one to an Allman Brothers gig. When I first plugged into it, before I had even turned any of the knobs, it instantly sounded good. I think that is the sign of a great amplifier. Then I started turing the knobs a bit and looking for different sounds and it was very easy to get the sounds that I was looking for. At that time I was about to do a Grateful Dead tour, so I needed an amp that would also give me a clear, cleaner kind of sound than what I would use in the Allman Brothers. So he took this amp and he dialed in almost a Twin sound and it was amazing. I can get both of those sounds out of the same amp, just by turning a few knobs. They were willing to work with myself, Derek and David Grissom to re-design some things. I now have several different PRS amps that work in different configurations.
S: What will be your touring rig for Bluefest and the rest of the Australian dates?
W: It’s going to have to be smaller than in the States. I’m still deciding what that will be, probably just a couple of heads and I will use rental cabinets and a pedal board as opposed to my usual Bradshaw Switching System, which is everything in a rack.
S: If a quick gig comes up, what’s your immediate go-to rig, which you know is going to do the job for you?
W: I guess it depends on the music. Prior to using the PRS amps, I was using a Caesar Diaz amp and modified Soldano which gave me great sounds for certain things. If it was a small situation I would sometimes use an old 65′ Fender Super Reverb. So any of those amps or one of Paul Reed Smith’s combos, or 100 watt or 50 watt head, I know I’m going to get what I am looking for.
S: What’s your favourite Les Paul … the one that you feel most comfortable with?
W: My signature model Les Paul is the one I am most used to operating. I have several of them and they are very consistent. All the sounds that the guitar offers due to its circuitry, are sounds I utilise quite a bit. One my new album ‘Man in Motion’ I played various hollow bodied instruments. I did play my Les Paul on some of the tunes but mostly vintage 335s or 345s and have been doing that a lot live. I also have a Gibson ES335 that is my favourite guitar to play in that department. I also had a De Angelico which I played on the record which gave it a jazzier sound. The guitar sounds on this album are a lot cleaner lower gain sounds.
S: I reckon you have one of the best recorded guitar sounds I have ever heard. The Government Mule guitar sounds are in your face but have room around them as well. How do you go about recording the guitar parts?
W: Well thank you. The last two Government Mule albums, we recorded at Willie Nelson’s studio which is where I recorded Man in Motion too. Usually it is a combination of amplifiers. On By A Thread, I would have a Soldano through a 4×12 cabinet in one room, my Caesar Diaz 100 watt amp through another 4×12, then a smaller amp … usually a Fender Pro Junior or even a Vibrolux blended into the equation. We would mic all three amps and blend them in a way which could change song by song. You could use one or all three. Then there are room mics involved and just searching for the right sound.