Em­brac­ing change

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Showbiz - By MESFIN FEKADU

JOHN Mayer never re­lied on mul­ti­coloured 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 just launched the sec­ond leg of his Search For Ev­ery­thing World Tour on Tues­day in Al­bu­querque, New Mex­ico. The new live shows have been a de­par­ture for the Grammy win­ner, who now per­forms with a colour­ful and fu­tur­is­tic LED 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.

The 39-year-old re­cently wrapped a tour with Dead & Com­pany, his su­per­group with Grate­ful Dead’s Mickey Hart, Bill Kreutz­mann and Bob Weir.

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

We have an LED wall and an LED 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.

Your al­bum The Search For Ev­ery­thing was re­leased in April and it’s been four years since your last re­lease. Why so long?

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.

What have you learned from per­form­ing in Dead & Com­pany?

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 – 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.

Who else would you like to col­lab­o­rate with?

My next col­lab­o­ra­tion, I think, is go­ing to be more on the pro­ducer side than on the artiste 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. – AP

— AP

The Search For Ev­ery­thing, Mayer’s first al­bum in four years, was re­leased in April.

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