John Mayer will join Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart along with Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti for at least two concerts in the recently formed band . Mayer shared some of his thoughts on joining Dead & Company via social media and further discussed the new group in an interview the fan forum My Stupid Mouth.
Discussion board member Richard Young posted an interview he conducted with Mayer on the My Stupid Mouth fan forum. Here’s part of what Mayer had to say about Dead & Company:
RY: Jerry Garcia’s guitar playing was different from yours and obviously you’re not trying to replace him. I’d love to hear more about your approach to his sound and his playing, as he was an exceptional improviser with a deep-rooted knowledge of scales.
JM: It would take six guitar players to cover a show to come even close to being able to cover all of the influences that Jerry Garcia was drawing from. There’s nothing else like it.
I think the way I can approach it so that I don’t completely panic is to find the balance between where the guitar lives under my hands, what these songs dictate, and where Jerry Garcia’s playing melded into the composition of the songs. I’ve tried more than a couple of times to play stock “me” over these songs and it doesn’t work. They sort of die on the vine.
I’m doing this with the utmost respect also because this is a respect thing and not just a science. It’s a very spiritual thing where I’m respecting these notes because they won’t ever die. That’s Jerry Garcia’s genetic code in all of these songs and in all of that playing. It’s really interesting how his music can do that. It’s so expressive.
I’m learning how he thought and how he felt and where he was coming from, so I want to deeply respect that and also not hyper-extend myself to try to go for something I can’t get.
It’s a lot of playing and listening. Because I want to be authentic, I want to sound alive and organic but I also want to respect what those compositions were and that guitar playing has so much to do with the feeling that it gives the audience, I’m learning new things about it all of the time.
It’s one of the most intense pursuits musically I’ve ever been on, maybe the most because there’s so much to look at and there’s so much to dissect.
How do I build using the pieces that I have here and some pieces that I can build based on practice and study? How do I put together this thing that in its own way is vital but respectful and authentic and true to what that music is?
So it absolutely is one of the most fascinating, frightening, rewarding experiences of my life. I am 100% online as a musician right now. All of my brainpower and soul power is devoted to music.
And I thank Bob, Billy, Mickey, Oteil, and Jeff for giving me that opportunity to put all of my energy into music. To make me care this much. It keeps me on my toes and it makes me listen to more music than I’ve listened to in a decade, honest to God. It’s its own amazing study.
I’m already on the journey. The journey doesn’t begin October 31st. I’ve been on the journey and there’s nothing else like it. It’s going to be great. All I’ve ever wanted out of music is to look forward to waking up the next morning and seeing what’s going to come out of the guitar and what I’m going to figure out and what I’m going to create.
Head over to My Stupid Mouth to read the entire insightful interview.