After walking away with a Grammy last year for his debut album Room for Squares, singer/songwriter John Mayer attracted a lot of attention. At 26, he’s already released his sophomore CD, Heavier Things. And since Mayer is known for taking his music directly to the people, spending weeks on the road we decided to tag along and see what it’s like to be John Mayer. NBC News correspondent Carl Quintanilla caught up with John Mayer in Atlanta, the 12th stop on his U.S. tour.
THE STAGE IS John Mayer’s playground and his singing and guitar are his toys.
While some artists might let their latest record speak for itself, Mayer prefers to hit the road — playing for audiences who’ve already made him one of the hottest acts in music.
“I don’t feel like I’ve proven to myself that I deserve to be in my position unless I am out there playing every night,” he says,
With a triple platinum album under his belt, John Mayer has “proven” plenty.
But ask him if he’s “made it,” and his answer is: not even close.
Mayer sounds like a guy who everyone thinks is running a sprint, but what he’s really trying to do is run a marathon.
“I like the idea of a slow burn, once everybody agrees, if you’re a woman, you are the hottest woman in the world, you might be on every magazine cover, but everyone kind of gives you the golf clap, you know, we get it,” he says. “We get it. You’re gorgeous, we get it. I’m really too young and I hope I am always too young to fall into that kind of nostalgic place. I want to give people who listen to my music the sense that it isn’t fully formed.”
Mayer’s biggest hits have sometimes painted him as a sensitive ladies’ man. But as his new album proves, his songwriting ability goes far beyond that.
“I put out a song called “Your Body Is A Wonderland,” and a lot of people appreciated it, and at the same time a lot of people think that is my calling, writing songs about women and just how much better I can love ‘em than the next guy,” he says. “It’s been a lot off a little, sometimes I want people to realize just how little it is, and let me do more.”
Aside from those two hours on stage every night, there are hours to kill while on the road. And on this tour, there are a few constants, starting with some time checking email.
A sound check on stage and without fail, a meet and greet with fans.
You can’t help but notice, the sheer number of female fans.
Mayer says, “When someone says, now you’re ‘Mr. Do-Dad’ with the ladies, you can’t play into it either way, you can’t refute or reinforce, just have to kind of go (Mayer covers his eyes). It’s kind of like staring at yourself in the mirror too much, move on.”
Practical, yes, but Mayer is also surprisingly funny. But he didn’t need to worry, he doesn’t need our help.
Mayer: “Kelly good to meet you. Kelly with an e-y or just y?”
Mayer: “Y? Because I really care about the way I spell your name.” (Laughs)
Don’t be fooled by his charm, the music is what matters to Mayer and how his fans connect to it.
“People reference songs with times in their lives and maybe I am playing a song tonight, that someone is going to be like that’s a tough one to hear, that was my so-and-so song,” says Mayer. “My job is to keep making those songs. I never want to get to the point where I have to play the same six, and all those other ones from the new records are for me and the band and my hard-core fans. I want to be one of those artists where you come to the show and say, ‘damn that was a hit too!’”
But Mayer has a different meaning for the word “hit.”
“When I say hit I don’t mean selling singles,” he says. “I mean a song that connects, that’s a hit... that’s amazing.”