Mayer on chang­ing his live shows: 'I want to be com­pet­i­tive'

Kuwait Times - - LIFESTYLE -

John Mayer never re­lied on mul­ti­col­ored light­ing, con­fetti and py­rotech­nics to help him dur­ing his live shows, like some of his peers. But the singer-song­writer-gui­tarist wanted to step up his game, and he said watch­ing Drake per­form live en­cour­aged him to beef up his stage pro­duc­tion and take more risks dur­ing his con­certs. Mayer will launch the sec­ond leg of his Search for Every­thing World Tour yes­ter­day in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico. The new live shows have been a de­par­ture for the Grammy win­ner, who now per­forms with a col­or­ful and fu­tur­is­tic L.E.D. wall and floor. "I wanted to have a re­ally big show. I want to be com­pet­i­tive. I want to be in the world where peo­ple are cre­at­ing big­ger and bet­ter shows," Mayer said. "I think there's a healthy com­pe­ti­tion in­volved in it. I went and saw Drake's show and ... real artists say, 'Wow!' And then they go, '(Ex­ple­tive).' Right? Be­cause you see some­thing that wows you and as an artist your­self you go, 'I want a lit­tle of that.'" The 39-year-old re­cently wrapped a tour with Dead & Com­pany, his su­per­group with Grate­ful Dead's Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutz­mann and Bob Weir. His sum­mer tour wraps Sept 3 in Noblesville, In­di­ana.

But Mayer isn't only play­ing big are­nas: He an­nounced Tues­day that he will join the Dive Bar Tour with Bud Light for a show in Los An­ge­les on July 26. In a re­cent in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press, Mayer talked about step­ping it up with his live shows, at­tend­ing Grate­ful Dead Univer­sity and en­joy­ing new al­bums by DJ Khaled and Calvin Har­ris.

AP: The pro­duc­tion level for your new live shows has re­ally changed. What's that process been like?

Mayer:

We have an L.E.D. wall and a L.E.D. floor. In a way it's re­ally min­i­mal ... but from there you can go any­where you want to go. It can be ab­stract. It can be su­per­min­i­mal­ist. It can also be su­per-real . ... I even want to go fur­ther with it . ... I have an idea maybe next year to do like a 2.0 ver­sion of it where it re­ally goes down deep into my dream, but that's a lot more trucks and buses. I'd go broke from that tour but it would be in­cred­i­ble. It would al­most be Broad­way-like. I want to be mod­ern day and I want to play by mod­ern-day rules and ex­cite peo­ple, but I also want to do it the way I would do it. Every­thing that I've ever picked up that was a tech­nol­ogy in some way or an­other, I've al­ways found, I think, my own voice with it. And so I'm do­ing the big, bad L.E.D. show, but in a way that tells a story about me.

AP: Your al­bum "The Search for Every­thing" was re­leased in April and it's been four years since your last re­lease. Why so long?

Mayer: Well, when I turned 30 (in 2008), I looked at my 30s that were com­ing up and I said, 'I want to make as much as I can in my 30s,' so I started to . ... 'The Search for Every­thing' would have come out, and I haven't done the math on this, it would have come out in 2015, but then this beau­ti­ful op­por­tu­nity of Dead & Com­pany showed up at my doorstep. And I've never pressed pause on a solo ca­reer be­fore, but I knew that this was worth press­ing pause for. And that's been re­ally in­ter­est­ing be­cause the (new) songs are re­ally pow­er­ful, but I'm also two years re­moved from the emo­tion of it, so it's a very in­ter­est­ing thing to go out on tour with songs that have been ges­tat­ing for three years.

Artis­tic re­sponse AP: What have you learned from per­form­ing in Dead & Com­pany? Mayer:

It seemed to me al­most like tak­ing a break to go back to school, right? It was like, 'Take a break from this solo thing and go back to the univer­sity.' And I'm get­ting my de­gree from Grate­ful Dead Univer­sity. That's all I ever wanted was mu­si­cal ex­pe­ri­ence that equated to be­com­ing a bet­ter mu­si­cian . ... It's a lit­tle bor­ing to be a solo act for like 50 years. For me per­son­ally, I'm way too fid­gety.

AP: Who else would you like to col­lab­o­rate with? Mayer:

My next col­lab­o­ra­tion, I think, is go­ing to be more on the pro­ducer side than on the artist side. I'm very in­ter­ested in and in­trigued by the idea of work­ing with cer­tain pro­duc­ers . ... I also like the idea of the en­sem­ble record; I see where that's go­ing. The (DJ) Khaled record, the Calvin Har­ris record - that's like a life hack that's tak­ing place be­fore our eyes. And it's a thought­ful, artis­tic re­sponse to the in­dus­try go­ing the way it's go­ing, which is like su­per­groups . ... So I see that work­ing, too, like 'John Mayer Presents...' - where I'm a lit­tle less the singer and the up­front guy, and more the guy mak­ing tracks and say­ing, 'I re­ally can hear this voice here.'

John Mayer

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