AAJ: That thought crossed my mind as I watched the audience and saw acclamations as you started particular songs, they were reflecting the fanship of the band as well. It was a mutual dynamic.
WH: I think that's a good assessment. Also, an odd factor is that especially back then-it was 2008-the audience didn't completely know what to expect. Like, we had dropped hints and we had leaked a few things implying we wee going to do Pink Floyd and we had done a few Halloween shows, so they knew something was afoot. But whereas in later years, we even would come out and say what we were going to do, we were still kind of teasing them; they didn't know if they were going to get one Pink Floyd song or ten Pink Floyd songs. So they were experiencing it as it unfolded.
AAJ: That explains why there was this definite strain of surprise with each successive song, perhaps until half or two-thirds of the way through the set, when they realized they were getting an entire set of Pink Floyd.
WH: I think one possibility was that we were covering Dark Side of the Moon (Capitol, 1973) but we didn't open that way: we opened with "One of These Days," (Meddle [Capitol, 1971]), so already they were scratching their head like "What is this?" The next song's from a different record, then the next song's from a different record "What exactly are they doing?"
AAJ: Right. And you didn't play anything from Dark side of the Moon until well into the set.
WH: At that point they're salivating for it!
AAJ: Absolutely! And that's what I thought was so expert about the set list. It must give you guys a lot of confidence when you embark upon a project like that when it comes off as well or better than you had hoped; it must inspire you to do something more and something perhaps even more ambitious.
WH: Yeah, I don't want to say keep topping ourselves, but we do paint ourselves into a corner. Or at least have a bar to at least pay attention to. But it's a good thing, because we always walk away having added some new element to what's influencing our future direction. And I think whether we acknowledge that or not, it exists. This year (at Halloween) we did two and a half hours of Neil Young music, then turn around and do AC/DC: somehow both of those things are going to influence where we go next.
AAJ: Now we can probably look forward to hearing an AC/DC song now and then or some other Neil Young songs, within a Gov't Mule show.
WH: That's another plus. That a few of those songs always linger around as part of the repertoire and we can always pull them out from time to time.
AAJ: Jumping back to preparation for the upcoming Sco-Mule tour, in speaking with John recently, he said there would be a single day for rehearsals.
WH: I think we are hoping for two now. The first day would be everybody traveling all day, rehearsing that night, then one whole day in addition to that, assuming all the flights are not delayed and that kind of stuff. But then we'll do day-by-day stuff: a few songs a day at soundcheck. We've already started to make a list of what songs are going to be part of the tour. It'll be cool: one of the things Gov't Mule does these days is we'll rehearse something at soundcheck, but we won't play it that night; we'll play it a different night because we don't want to play something at soundcheck, then not play as good that night during the show. We've learned through the years, if we've played something good, let's save it for another night.
AAJ: You rediscover it and that refresh it when you go back to it again. I'm sure it was embedded in the recognition of Gov't Mule being together twenty years, but what was it that prompted you to put out Sco-Mule as part of the celebration of Mule's history?
WH: We've been wanting to put it out for so long, that it's almost a shame it didn't come out earlier. This was the perfect opportunity because now we have an excuse to do things that are a little different than the norm. If you look at all four of these archive releases side by side, they're all different from each other, there's very few songs repeated among the four discs and they show completely different sides of the band that you may or may not hear on any given night. I think the fact it's the twentieth anniversary gives us this big umbrella to put things under and I think it might've freaked people out ten years ago, fifteen years ago, to put out an all-instrumental Gov't Mule CD... hopefully not so much now.
AAJ: Let me ask you something about the upcoming tour. Do you have plans to record these shows and put them out in a formal package apart from Mule Tracks (the band's ongoing series of live concert releases), sort of like Sco-Mule: The Sequel?
WH: (laughs) Hopefully it won't take fifteen years. We record every night now, so we're going to take special care to make sure these shows really go to tape well. But aside from that, we're really going to wait and see what stands out, knowing part of the equation would be to have a follow-up.