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Interview:
John Mayer Aims For Relaxing Shows This Summer
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK

John Mayer is trying to make the summer continuation of his “Continuum” tour a “mini-vacation.”

And he figures he’s earned the right to some respite — or at least some recreation while he’s on the road.

“I’m just trying to be laid-back and do a great show and not putting a lot of pressure on myself,” explains the Grammywinning singer, songwriter, guitarist and heartthrob.

“I kind of see (the show) as an extension of the day — get to the venue and work out and eat lunch, take a shower and then get on stage and play and kind of meet the audience where they are, which should be similar to how I am, except for the shower, maybe.”

Mayer, 29, certainly has the credentials to spend the summer in a celebratory mood.

“Continuum,” his fourth studio album, has sold more than 1.7 million copies since its September release, launching the hits “Waiting For the World to Change” and “Gravity” and winning Grammy Awards for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Its success netted him spots on the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in May and Eric Clapton’s upcoming Crossroads Festival near Chicago.

He also found himself on Time Magazine’s list of the world’s 100 most influential people, although that honor kicks the Connecticut-born musician right into self-deprecation mode.

“I know if it was the Time 99, I would’ve been off the list,” says Mayer, who’s played coy with his recent romantic linkage to Jessica Simpson. “There were a lot of great minds in that room.”

Nevertheless, Mayer comes to the summer “relaxed,” which has a distinct impact on the way he’s approaching the shows.

“I’ve gotten older and learned how to have a little fun and stop taking myself so seriously all the time,” he acknowledges. “I’m letting the music become intense when the music becomes intense, but, as the guy playing it, recognizing that it’s summertime and a summer evening and is less a display of musicality and more like a conversation.

“I just want to take off all the pressure and play as loose as I can. I think great things happen then.”

Some of those things could affect Mayer’s next album, which is already under way — somewhat.

“I’m just working it out now,” Mayer says, contending it’s “still too early” to say much about his future intentions except that he expects to start working in earnest this fall. Where it leads, he says, is anybody’s guess.

“I’m not the guy who wrote ‘Continuum’ working on my new album; I’m this guy named John trying to put together a record to express how he feels,” explains Mayer, who’s also been writing with Alicia Keys for her next album. “There’s no tenure in songwriting. You start from the beginning every single time.”

The album will come out, he adds, “whenever it’s great — the same thing I said with ‘Continuum,’ and that took two years. I’m just trying to get a better record out of me.”

Fans, however, will have to wait for the album to come out to hear any of it. Mayer won’t be offering any previews in concert.

“I think the days of that are gone,” he says. “There’s too many tapers, and the audience is too large.

“You know, you look out in the crowd and you realize they’ve been waiting for the show for a really long time. They got into a car, sat in traffic, got to the show and are sitting in sweltering heat, and you just owe them kind of what they know.

“There’s enough interesting new things that take place inside of what they already know, anyway, than to just come out and play a song nobody knows or that’s probably not that good yet. We don’t lose anything by sticking to ‘the old stuff.’ ”



John Mayer, Ben Folds and Brett Dennen perform at 7:30 p.m. Thursday (July 5th) at The Palace, Lapeer Road at I-75, Auburn Hills. Tickets are $49.50-$59.50. Call (248) 377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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