Early Career

John Mayer as a teen holding a guitar.
Interview at Acoustic Cafe
From live performance at Acoustic Cafe in Bridgeport, CT

Interviewer: You said that you hadn’t actually been playing in the northeast when you were up there, so all of this sort of started in the southeast. You now are starting to do touring, nationwide touring?

JM: Yeah, I think the only thing that’s allowed us to be national is a burning desire to play, number one. Which we should never discount. 

Interviewer: A record deal?

JM: You know, yeah, I think what's really the done the work—and it’s really great to have Columbia and Aware on my side no doubt about it—but it’s been the internet, you know? And the internet is such a vast thing and there’s so many people clamoring to sort of make a presence that I don’t really understand what the variable is that’s allowed me to sort of benefit from it. And it’s been a great way to establish a lineage of music that otherwise, I wouldn’t have been able to provide to people because I didn’t have the resources to make a record. So to be able to record a live show and put the three or four tracks that I thought came out really listenable and to put them up on Napster and have them sort of downloaded. It’s sort of my little microcosm for record releases even though they were little songs. So I think that’s sort of what’s made us national.

Interviewer: And the people who have been doing this sort of work on the internet have also found that when they actually try and take this out on the road, one of the problems they found on the internet is that it’s really hard to find out  where those people are which is where Columbia and Aware come in.

JM: Absolutely, absolutely. I couldn’t do it without them.

Interviewer: Is it fun to get out of the region?

JM: It’s amazing you know? We played Detroit last night. And if you told me that we were gonna sell a place out in Detroit, you know, I had no idea. I think last night in fact I said to Dave, “You know Dave today’s the day that I think something different is going on now.” It astounds me. It’s ridiculous. I shouldn’t be twenty three and go to Detroit for the first time and sell out a room. And also it’s Howie Day. I don’t know if you heard of Howie Day but he’s a great songwriter, and a great singer, and a great performer so the both of us sort of had something to do with that. But I think as long as I keep acknowledging that this is completely ridiculous, I can find a way to feel like maybe I deserve to be there. As long as I just keep realizing that this is stupid.

Live at KTCZ-FM
Interview and performance from Minneapolis

Interviewer: One more question here. I kind of jokingly before referred to what are you going to do if this whole rock star thing doesn't pan out. Clearly your music resonates with people and music has been a dream you've had since you were very young. Are there other dreams you have, other things you want to pursue other than music before your life's over?

JM: I have hobbies. But there's not anything else I'd want to pursue for the rest of my life. I mean, I never minded when I was growing up if you thought I was a schmuck, and if you told everyone John Mayer is totally obnoxious. As long as you followed up with, "but man, have you heard him play guitar?" That's all I really need to be known for. Plus, the guitar is a longtime quest for me. And I don't think it would be fair for me to start trying to spread it thin and pick up other things. I don't even want to play other instruments. I just want to play guitar, and I want to make records. Sometimes making records is the last thing you think about when you're at a record label. Because you make a record and then you recite it.

But my big dream is, maybe four or five records down the line—I mean hopefully, I don't want to flatter myself—but hopefully be the kind of artist where my fifth record comes out on a Tuesday and you're there Monday night and you don't even know what the record sounds like, you don't know what the track listing is. And you go to the shelf, and you pick it up and you bring it to the counter and you go, here you go, I want one of these. That'd be cool.

Interviewer: Well, I don't think you'll have to wait until your fifth record.

Excerpted from Live at KTCZ-FM >
Podcast interview with Dean Delray
Let There Be Talk, Part 1 of 2, Episode #501

JM: I really think that if I hadn't hit the ground running I think the ground would have kicked the shit out of me. I think it's important to remember that as things continue to sort of still stay in orbit for me career-wise, that I have a feeling that I would have been a complete and total fuck up if things didn't go my way. I don't think I would have tolerated it super well. I think I would have always done it but I think it might've eaten me alive. I'm not sure

DD: Right.

JM: But I think it's a good healthy thing to always hold out this little idea that you're never quite sure how good a person you would have been if it didn't go your way. And of course things have come along the way that have been challenging and now for me it's like you said, like I'm not really gonna be able to judge my future work based on commercial success because the world is just different.