Fans of guitarist Warren Haynes have had things good in 2016. The guitarist has found time for his many project, ranging from the folk-inspired Ashes & Dust Band to the rockin’ and rollin’ of Gov’t Mule to the summertime symphonic tributes for the late great Jerry Garcia. This week in particular has held quite a lot of excitement, as Haynes played Garcia’s “Tiger” guitar for the first time publicly since 1995, to perform a symphonic tribute on his birthday at Red Rocks Amphitheatre. Not only that, but Mule has an exciting Tel-Star Sessions disc due out this Friday, August 5th, which captures the band’s first-ever recorded works.With all of this excitement, our own Dave Melamed caught up with Haynes on the road to chat about everything! Check out the full interview below.L4LM: With the big archival release coming out this week, I was hoping you could walk us through the definitive Tel-Star Sessions.Warren Haynes: Well, those were the first recordings Gov’t Mule ever made. We were still pretty much considering ourselves a side project and not yet an actual band. The nine songs that we recorded, I should say the nine songs that we’re releasing are the only nine songs that we recorded. There’s nothing else from those sessions.These were sessions that we financed ourselves, with the original intent of releasing them as an extremely low budget experimental sort of record. We started getting a lot of interest from record companies, and decided to put those recordings on the shelf and actually sign with a label, hire a producer, and go in and make a record having written more songs after those sessions. So those wound up on the shelf.L4LM: How did you decide to release them now?WH: I’ve always wanted to make them available at some point, knowing they would need to be some sort of archival release. There’s only two songs out of the nine that haven’t surfaced somewhere on one of our studio recordings. It really came out when we were looking for things to put out for the 20th anniversary. I went back and listened to the Tel-Star sessions and really found myself smiling and very proud of what we had done, and thought, “yeah this would be a good time to do that, as part of the 20th.”L4LM: You mentioned listening back and loving it. Aside from the obvious lineup changes, how does 1994 Mule compare to 2016 Mule?WH: Well the spirit is pretty much the same. The chemistry we had from the very beginning was quite uncanny, especially the chemistry between Matt [Abts, drummer] and Allen [Woody, bassist], which is, I think, very obvious on these recordings.But that’s a snapshot of the whole philosophy that shaped Gov’t Mule for the future. We didn’t want to adhere to the normal philosophies of rock bands, especially in that period of time. We wanted to pave our own way and do something unique that started out as an idea of bringing back the improvisational trio, which we felt like nobody was doing. It just kind of one step at a time, it snowballed, and started building its own steam.L4LM: So is this recording one of those ‘Oh My God’ moments in the foundation of the band?WH: Yeah, I mean we had just started playing together when we made these recordings. Part of the initial plan was to go into the studio and make a recording. That was even more a part of the plan than touring. We didn’t know we were going to tour or stay together or anything. We just wanted to release some strange side project record, and that’s what this would have been but every day we were together felt more and more like a real band, which it started to become. That’s the reason we killed these recordings in the first place. It was just changing every week. The band was growing and it was an exciting time.L4LM: You mentioned the chemistry between Matt and Allen. What did that open up for you, as far as the guitarist playing off that rhythm section?WH: It’s very propulsive. It inspires me to play on top of all this chaos that’s already in existence, so I can choose a multitude of ways of doing that. I can be really legato on top of what they’re doing and melodic, or I can add to the frenzy, or I can inspire a different type of frenzy. It’s all like taking a jazz approach to rock music, where every moment influences the next moment. That’s the way all of us love to play music, and that’s the music we all love to listen to.The first time we played together, we had that kind of chemistry, and that’s really what we wanted to capture.L4LM: When you talk about rock trios, obviously Cream comes to mind. How do you see yourselves with the lineage of trio bands?WH: I think that’s the quintessential rock trio. We were all influenced by Cream as an entity, and we were all influenced by them individually. Woody was a huge Jack Bruce fan. Matt was a huge Ginger Baker fan. Clapton was my first guitar hero. But the music that Cream made was so unique, and it didn’t last very long. It was like lightning in a bottle, and then it went away.We also love the Hendrix Experience and Band of Gypsys. We also love trios plus a singer, like The Who and Free and Led Zeppelin. So we were taking cues from a lot of different directions, but the jams themselves were influenced by all of the things we just talked about, but also just by our love of jazz. We listened to so much jazz. We were just an extension of all of that.L4LM: You can really hear it in these recordings, all of the influences coming together.WH: It was just an exciting moment, because we were still figuring out who we were as a band. It was that period of discovery, so to speak. As I mentioned before, we hadn’t yet decided if we were going to continue this. So it was really in the process of changing from a project to a band. We were starting to have daily discussions about, well maybe we should go on the road and continue this whole process.Partially because, Woody and I who were full time members of the Allman Brothers, we still had a lot of time on our hands because the Allman Brothers were off for the rest of the year. But the morale and the communication in the Allman Brothers at that point was starting to unravel, as it did quite often. There was no writing, no rehearsing, no recording, and in Gov’t Mule all of those things were happening. The whole shift of interest was starting to take place.L4LM: Speaking of the Allman Brothers, I know Oteil Burbridge has said that he’s heard talks of a reunion in the works. Care to comment on that?WH: I think it’s too early to tell at this point. I don’t see it happening any time soon, but I’m not able to shed any light on that.L4LM: I know you’ve been talking about a new Gov’t Mule album coming out. How’s that going?WH: I’ve talked hypothetically and theoretically about what I’m hoping it will be. The most important thing for me is that it be different than anything we’ve done, and that we go back and revisit the beginning of Gov’t Mule. Also know that, any time we go into the studio, things have a way of changing into something that we didn’t predict, so I’m sure I have no idea what’s going to happen when we get in there.L4LM: So you have plans to record soon?WH: We’re hoping to go in in November. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and Danny Louis and I will start doing some writing together here soon. Then the band as a whole will start writing together, and utilizing whatever happens on the road and rehearsal. I’m curious to see where it’s all going to go but I’m very psyched about it.L4LM: That’s great! Before I let you go, I have to ask about the Red Rocks show, where you paid tribute to Jerry Garcia on his birthday with the Colorado Symphony and Melvin Seals.WH: It was quite an honor to be able to play Tiger for the first time since Jerry passed. When I picked up Tiger the day before at rehearsal, it still had the same strings that were on it from the last time Jerry played it.Playing that music, with the Symphony and the bonus set with Melvin… playing it at Red Rocks for that crowd on his birthday. It was very emotional for everybody, and I think it was one of those nights that just fell into place. It was very magical.L4LM: It really did mean a lot to all of the fans. You’re a big part of the Grateful Dead legacy.WH: I’m honored to have had that opportunity. It was a beautiful night.L4LM: Well thank you so much for taking the time out to talk with us. Good luck with everything!WH: My pleasure.