Edited by Jonathan Cohen
August 13, 2001, 4:05 PM
The Allman Brothers Band is working on its first studio album in over seven years and hopes to release it next spring, drummer Butch Trucks tells Billboard.com.
Songs such as “Desdamona,” “High Cost of Low Living,” and “Rocking Horse” have already become concert staples and are set to be included on the new set. The latter track was written during sessions for the 1994 album “Where It All Begins” and later recorded by Gov’t Mule.
However, for the first time in its 30-year-plus history, the archetypal Southern rock group isn’t on a major label roster.While similar news would prove ominous for most classic rock outfits, Trucks says the Allmans couldn’t be happier to be on their own.
“We’ve just been screwed so many times [by record deals] that we frankly had enough,” Trucks says, phoning in from a Sturgis, S.D., hotel room. “Our audience doesn’t come to see us every year because we just put out a new record. So for about three or four years now, we’ve toured without making
any new records. And then we finally worked out a deal with the record company [Sony] to give them this ‘Peakin’ at the Beacon’ show [to release as a live album last year]. I think they finally figured out that they were either going to accept that or nothing, because we weren’t going to give them anything else. So they did, and we are now free of our record contract.”
Trucks says the group envisions unprecedented autonomy now that it is no longer bound to a major label. “We’re going to start our own label,” he says. “I mean, we don’t need them. We finally figured it out. I don’t know why it took us so damn long. I guess we’re pretty stupid but for 30 years now; we’ve basically put out records and then we’d go out on the road and work. We don’t need all of that promotion. All we need is a good distributor and a decent publicist. We’ll run our own company and come out of it with more than just hemorrhoids.”
The past year-and-a-half has been full of change for the Allmans, who last spring dismissed original guitarist Dickey Betts and replaced him with former band member and Gov’t Mule founder Warren Haynes. Apparently, the rift between
Betts and the rest of the band had been present for years.
“It got more and more to where it became ‘The Dickey Betts Band’,” Trucks admits. “We put up with it for a quite a while. And frankly, it had reached a point with me where if we had to keep going the way we were going, I was quitting. There
was so much tension, so much anger and so much animosity flying around that it just wasn’t any fun.”
In the meantime, ABB is winding down its annual summer tour, which hits St. Louis tomorrow (Aug. 14) and wraps Aug. 26 in Hartford, Conn. As for the in-progress album, Trucks says he is expecting good things. “Everybody is real excited about it,” he says. “It’s been a long time and it’s time we do it again.”
— John Benson, Cleveland