John Mayer undertook an immense challenge when he stepped outside the singer-songwriter box and joined Dead & Company, a jam band consisting of former Grateful Dead members and other jam artists. On Monday’s episode of Debatable with Mark Goodman and Alan Light, Mayer explained how he was able to adjust to a new style.
Along with Mayer, Dead & Company consists of former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann as well as jam-band veterans Oteil Burbridge and Jeff Chimenti. As lead guitarist for their 2015 and 2016 tours, Mayer had to go through the Grateful Dead’s extensive catalogue and master their songs.
“I pulled out of the studio — and I knew this was worth doing — and I kind of looked at like a contractor,” Mayer explained. “Like you would look at an empty building and go ‘Eight months? I can build it for you in eight months, but I gotta start now.’ … The math was like I had to know a song every couple of days.”
Despite having to learn over 100 songs, John Mayer embraced the challenge. As he continued to discover the Grateful Dead’s music, he turned into a fan.
“It was really great. I’m naturally obsessive anyway, so it suited my way of life which is [to] dive so deep into something. … Even if I didn’t join Dead & Company, I would’ve been a Dead-head by now,” he said. “It just happened to parallel my love of the music.”
COLD, RAIN AND SNOW – DEAD AND COMPANY
John Mayer said he also had a little help from SiriusXM’s Grateful Dead Channel (Ch. 23) in expanding his love for the band.
“I discovered it on Pandora, and then I discovered the Grateful Dead station on SiriusXM, which I think a lot of people owe a debt of gratitude to that station,” he said. “I think that’s maybe one of the most essential stations to the entire network.”
Now, Mayer proudly calls himself a jam band guy and is enjoying the new experience at this stage of his career.
“I’m a jam band guy. To the extent that people can really ever delineate things inside of a jam band, or what is a jam band, or what isn’t,” he said. “For me, it’s been so great because it took me out of the single lane situation of being a singer-songwriter.”
Check out clips from Mayer’s interview on Debatable below, where he also discussed his career arc, discovering other jam bands, details of his upcoming album and more!
Debatable airs on VOLUME (Ch. 106) weekdays from 4 pm to 7 pm ET.