You Sing, I Write: John Mayer Tells All At Z100's Z-Lounge

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John Mayer Tells All At Z100's Z-Lounge

I don't want to call myself an "unlucky" person, per say. But as far as winning anything throughout my life — whether it be carnival games, slots in Atlantic City or free vacation getaways, I'm never dealt the best hand. So when local radio station Z100 was giving away John Mayer tickets two weekends ago I thought I might as well try — one call can't hurt. To my shock and amazement the phone on the other line rang and someone answered. Here's how the conversation panned out:

Me: Hello?
DJ: Hey, who's this?
Me: Hi, it's Annie.
[really long pause]
Me: I'm calling for John Mayer tickets.
[another really long pause]
Me: Do you know what number I am?
DJ: Yeah, I do.
Me: What number?
DJ: You're caller 100, Annie!
Me: Are you serious?
DJ: Yes. I'm serious!

As luck would have it, I actually signed up to be a ZVIP literally the day before I won the tickets. So, in addition to winning a pair of tickets to John Mayer's show at PNC Bank Arts Center in New Jersey, I also won a pair to his Z-Lounge performance at Spotlight Live in Times Square. Pretty sweet! I guess I'm not too unlucky anymore.

For the half hour John Mayer was onstage at Spotlight Live Tuesday night, I learned a lot more about him than I ever could by just listening to his albums. For one, he informed the crowd that yes, he has in fact slept with a fan before. When asked about his next album, he jokingly told the crowd while he has no idea what his next album will be like, it could possibly be club hits. His sense of humor is a bit eccentric. If you read the full Q&A from last night's event below, you'll get the picture. In between the interview, John played an impeccable version of latest single, "Say" as well as a solid cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin,'" "Belief" and "Waiting On the World to Change" from his most recent album, Continuum. Read below for the full Q&A.

Tell me about writing “Say.”
They sent me the script for The Bucket List, said that it was for a Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman movie and I said, “Let me read it” and I read it and cried like a baby bitch on the couch. You can say bitch if it’s a baby bitch. [Laughter from crowd]. Because it’s hyphenated, it’s not really the B-word . . . well, it is a B-word, nevermind. So yes, I wrote this song for this beautiful movie and it just happened to really strike a chord with me and I was really lucky to have the script as the sort of jumping off point for a song I probably wouldn’t have had if it wasn’t for that, so it’s cool.

So now, I actually love the process so much I’m actually writing songs for movies I wasn’t asked to write for. I’ve written myself a song for WALL-E. It’s called, “Will Somebody Please Say Something!”

Tell us how you got involved in the music business. Is this something you wanted to do as a little kid or did you sort of fall into it?
I did, I did. I won a contest, no I didn’t. I’m lucky enough to have gotten a record contract before they handed them out with oil changes. I just worked. People ask me all the time, “How do you make it happen?” You just practice. You don’t even have to be a guitar player, but if you’re out there and there’s something that you love doing. I don’t mean just like clicking a mouse ball, a real trade. There really is a difference between being famous for playing a song and being famous for tripping. That’s the only way you make it. Just commit yourself and dedicate yourself to something and I’m lucky enough to have done that.

What is your favorite part about being an artist in general?
You know what it is, its total mental freedom to know that whatever song or record or project I want to work on, can happen. And that’s why every day I have a new brainstorm, like “That would be the coolest thing to put out on the radio” or “That would be the coolest thing to put on a record” and I can do it. So that mental, sort of creative freedom, to know that I can do whatever I want to do musically, and not to have to ask for permission. That’s the coolest thing in the world.

You’re not especially known for being a guitar maniac. You’re known for the whole package. It’s like John Mayer, he’s a singer-songwriter.
Thank you. I’m not excellent at any one thing. But if you put it all together in some sort of, like a nice stew, it makes . . . Thank you, I do think that is sort of when I really shine. That if you just take all of it together and go, "That’s a lot of things to do at once."

Have you guys heard the Fall Out Boy cover of Michael Jackson’s “Beat It?” [asks crowd who then scream incessantly]. I mean, its no “Your Body Is a Wonderland.”
Neither is “Your Body Is a Wonderland.” I don’t even know what that means. Yeah, though, that was cool. Pete asked me, would I come in and play a guitar solo on “Beat It.” And I just think that their skewed sort of sense of humor was perfect. ’Cause it’s kind of tongue and cheek, but it’s also a cool track, so when they asked me would I play on it, I actually went out and found the Eddie Van Halen replica guitar and I learned how to shred in like three hours and put it on a record.

What inspired you to be a writer and who is your greatest influence?
I make a lot of observations, a lot of strange . . . I seem to sort of avoid obvious things to want to talk about. I have always, since I was a kid, made very slight, strange, twisted little observations that I don’t really feel happy unless I have at least tried to make other people understand the way that I see that and writing is a really great way. Writing is really good for people who get told all the time. . . like I’m sure there’s more than a couple people out here who meet new people and they say to the friend they’re with, “Where did you find her?” or “Where did you find him?” And the answer is, “Well, in a good place” because if you can write and get that out, then that’s what’s always drawn me to writing.

The influence, is just, I guess violence in the media and video games. [Crowd laughs]. Smoking in movies. I don’t know. Yes for smoking in movies! I don’t know what I’m talking about again. You guys put me in this situation where it’s like, “Let’s talk to the guy who can’t talk very well and writes songs to make up for it.” But yeah, I’m inspired by people who have a whole lot of control in what they do. You know what it is that I’m inspired by? I watched this Wimbledon match and I was more inspired by the championship Wimbledon match then I’ve been by some music in the last couple of months. I mean just watching greatness or listening to greatness happen. I’m inspired by anybody with really great control.

Is the next album going to be a Trio album or the full band in the studio?
I don’t really know. The thing about art for me is that you tour on something or you get known for a certain group of songs and you even know yourself through this certain group of songs. So, I need to go home and forget about all the music I worked on and go back to, sort of ground zero and just start from scratch again and find out what moves me. Maybe that’s the Trio, maybe it’s a new quartet. I don’t know, but that’s the fun part of going off sort of a record cycle and deciding what the next type of music is going to be. I would like to do a record full of club hits. [Starts beat boxing and singing Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music”, then tying in some guitar and plays “No Such Thing”]. Because man, when those lights go on and that beat starts goin’, and those glow sticks are turning. That’s what a John Mayer club remix sounds like.

I did hear there’s going to be a special edition re-release of Continuum. Is that true?
I don’t know. They keep re-releasing that record so many times, who knows. Now they’re just going to be like, “Yeah, but we didn’t put gum in it yet.”

There is a new DVD in stores though, right?
There is a new DVD in stores. It’s called “Where the Light Is” and it’s this live performance that transpired back in December in LA and its cool.

Have you ever hooked up with any of your fans from a concert?
I can tell you this, I might have hooked up with people, but as soon as I hooked up with them, they weren’t fans anymore so technically no. Listen, do you respect me for my honesty? The answer is yes I have! Not in a really long time. Not since the camera phone. That camera phone will get you, even if you’re sleeping. Your doughy frame all laying in the bed, dead like. And a picture of that, I can’t deal with that. I’m not trusting enough to really open up to anybody I don’t know very well anymore, which is good for my immune system.

Why are you the only celebrity that TMZ does not make fun of?
No. They do! Well, because TMZ is made out of the same garbage I am. It’s like; you can’t kill what you’re made of. I can’t be killed by garbage because I’m made of garbage. You can’t get trashier then me. No, you can’t. So I just out TMZ everyday and then after a while they just couldn’t get around it and went, “Alright. Truce. Let’s be friends.” But they still like to catch pictures of me when I’m blinking, but that’s the game that’s fine, I’m okay with that. I just want to roll with the punches. It’s not like it was, there’s no TRL, there’s no . . . if fans are saying, “The way that I want to see my favorite artist is walking out of a port-o-pottie or walking down the street to the gym,” that’s the new way to communicate, then I’m going to communicate that way. Especially if I don’t have a choice and it’s in my face. I’m not going to hide from it. I’m going to show my lovely personality and my giant brain.

Which is your favorite song that you’ve ever written?
My favorite song I’ve ever written is “Gravity.” I learned how, if you put too many words in a song, then you diminish the opportunity every day to put your feelings into it, no matter what your feelings are. “Gravity” is so open as a song that I can either lose a wicked game of Halo or have my heart broken and I can still, sort of put that into the song.

Do you do anymore stand-up?
You know, you lose too much focus. If you do stand-up, a lot of the stuff that you talk about isn’t true, it’s just reference to sort of, help illustrate the overall truth. And I really can’t get away with getting onstage and talking about poop or something because then it’s gonna make . . . you know, I’m aware that there’s a certain focus on the things that come out of my mouth. So I have to be really careful. When you get onstage and do stand-up you really are supposed to be allowed to say whatever comes to your mind if it is really thoughtful overall. So I can’t do it. Plus, I wasn’t funny. I don’t know if that’s a prerequisite. But I actually wasn’t funny either.

Listen or watch to the full interview as well as John performing "Say" on Z100. Check out John Mayer's Website for more on his summer tour and latest news.

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