John Mayer Ready To Integrate Solo Career With Dead & Company For Foreseeable Future


Over the past few months John Mayer has talked about his willingness to keep Dead & Company going as long as the members of the Grateful Dead will have him. The guitarist reiterated that viewpoint and discussed the logistics involved in “getting the Titanic” to float in a recent interview with Bozeman Magazine.

Mayer, a resident of Paradise Valley, Montana invited Ken Thorsen, a writer and a DJ of Montana’s Grateful Dead radio show KGLT’s Deadshow backstage at Dead & Company’s recent visit to Alpine Valley to discuss his love of Montana, how he found the music of the Grateful Dead and what the future holds. John expects to release a solo album soon, but aims to integrate his own project with Dead & Company shows. When asked about the future of Dead & Company, the guitarist offered up the following response:

I think we are going to try our hardest. I have to put a record out because it’s almost finished; I have to express myself in that way. Part of Dead & Company’s power comes from this being an answer to the normal work that I do. But let me put it this way, there’s nothing right now that I’m hiding on the books but I think everybody on my end and also on the side of everyone else in the band is going to work some way to do both as much as we can. That said even if it’s just a run every year, I know I’ll take the time to do it. I really think it’s a matter of how do you get this many people in one space at one time and find a way to make it pay for itself. I mean it’s hard if money wasn’t an issue in terms of what it costs to get the Titanic to float you know? We would drop in and do shows every other weekend!

Thorsen asked about D&C playing a pop up show in Montana, but Mayer acknowledged the logistical difficulties involved in playing one-off shows. “When you have this sort of conglomerate that you have to tore in a sort of a capacity that will pay for putting it on. If I could go out and not make a dime on it, I would totally do it, but it’s just hard to drop in and do a garden on Halloween. We’d get sent a bill, you know what I mean? That’s the thing, but never has there been such a fun puzzle to figure out because it’s all out of love for doing this. I think right now it would be silly and wrong in the spirit of the way we all feel as a band to go I mean I’ll do this for the rest of my life as long as they want to do this. It’s just a matter of seemingly trying to integrate playing my shows and making my records and then dropping into a town and starting there and taking two days to rehearse. I think it can be done. This is the band that built the wall of sound; we’ll figure out a way to do it. I’ll certainly do whatever it takes to carve out the time, but I still want to write my stories as an artist because I’ve got this output of songs that have to come out in a certain time in your life after you write them so that you can keep making and telling your story,” John said.

It appears John Mayer is in it for the long haul, while he’ll still keep his solo career going. Another interesting nugget that came up in the discussion involved Grateful Dead tribute act Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. While the guitarist has yet to see JRAD, he mentions he “can’t wait” to go see them. John Mayer also talked about the song that gets him every time when Dead & Company performs it, “Brokedown Palace.” The guitarist revealed, “There’s one moment I almost lose it every time. It’s in ‘Brokedown Palace.’ The whole song I sing it from absolute heart and soul and you know ‘mamma mamma many roads I’ve come since I first left home.’ When I sing that I get chills. I look at other people and you can see tears in their eyes. It’s almost as if this music was specifically designed to last forever.” One final detail worth mentioning is that he keeps his eyes on message boards for advice on how to play the music of the Grateful Dead. “I know I overplay, and I’m still working on the overplaying right. It’s a lot easier to play more notes than fewer notes because you get this kinetic bounce. It’s like when your’re working out–when you just bounce back and forth you actually don’t get the muscle work because your springing back and forth. When you play a lot of notes, it’s kind of safer because your bracited in all of the bopping. I’m working really hard on playing slower and being more vocal. I read this thing on a message board tonight, and I gotta try it tonight. So tonight show 2 is going to be my attempt at being just a little more lyrical because I’m still trying to bring down this verbose kind of guitar playing. It’s all a work in progress,” John said.

Head to Bozeman Magazine for more from John Mayer.

[Dead & Company – Brokedown Palace]