John Mayer Discusses Grateful Dead, Dead & Company & More
David, Gary and John kicked off their discussion by sharing how the coronavirus pandemic has affected them which led to Mayer touting the beneficiary of the webcast, the National Independent Venue Association‘s (NIVA) #SaveOurStages campaign. Gary then shared that they had broken the record for questions and John fielded a number of them starting with his experience playing with Dead & Company at Dodger Stadium and how the band hung out at his house afterward. He also spoke about other iconic venues he enjoyed performing at.
Mayer then answered a question about how he prepared for learning all the Grateful Dead material. “Not every version of a song is the one that will tell you what the song is,” he said. But you can find it. And as soon as you find that one version of the song that really speaks to the DNA of the song, then you can understand the others.” He also revealed that he connected with the Pigpen organ line in “Dark Star” and began playing it live which in turn influenced how Dead & Co. keyboardist Jeff Chimenti approached the song as well. We’re both very impressionable on one another,” he added.
After discussing John’s cereal eating habits, Mayer fielded a question about his Instagram program Current Mood and revealed that he was forgoing the beloved talk show to start writing for a new album. “I asked myself the question: Would my fans rather have Current Mood or a new record?” He mused. “And I decided for them that they’d wanna have a new record.”
Next, David conveyed a great question from a 15-year-old in New York who asked about what makes the Grateful Dead so timeless. “For me, they captivated my imagination in a way no one else ever has,” Mayer said. “It’s a hybrid between what is real and what is imagined.” Gary then segued into a question about how Mayer and Bob Weir developed their relationship which then extended to the rest of Dead & Company.
John then discussed how playing with D&C has changed his solo performance style and setlist arrangement. “I think the idea that’s so beautiful is that everybody at some point in the show will be disappointed, enthralled and curious,” he related. “While one person is getting the song they always wanted, the other person is going, ‘I’ve had enough of these.’ That’s a very scary idea for a pop guy to know that as you’re playing this thing you might have 40 percent of the crowd going, ‘eh, I don’t need this one.’ But the other 60 percent will go, ‘He’s playing it!’”
Watch the entire Shakedown Stream Pre-Show with John Mayer below: