John Mayer Trio

John Mayer, Pino Palladino, and Steve Jordan wearing suits.
Interview with My Stupid Mouth forum (2005)
Conducted by founder Richard Young

RY: So now your Trio tour in the fall, will it be covers, originals, or a variation?

JM: There's going to be originals. A lot of the stuff on the new record was recorded as a trio. It's much more rocking. I've got ballads though, don't worry (laughs). We're going to do some stuff from the new record, we're going to "Daughters," and we're going to see what other tunes we can do. I think "Something's Missing" would be pretty cool in the Trio format. I'm going to do a three times rule for covers. If it's been covered three times, I'm not going to play it. No "Little Wing" or no "Voodoo Chile." This is very much a band. I've had offers for the band to play when Pino couldn't do it and you can't take the money because that's not the band. I think out of that we'll have a pretty cool set worked up.

Article in Rolling Stone
"Q&A: John Mayer"

Rolling Stone: I thought we’d start out with how you met Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino.

John Mayer: I met Steve when he came in to play drums on a couple tracks on Heavier Things, my second record, and loved the experience. I loved the idea of composing something for him to play, as soon as he came in to play drums on these songs that I’d already written. He really kind of opened my mind up, on a rhythmic level. And then we kind of lost touch. But we started to play around town, just playing collaborations with people. I would go do a record with Herbie Hancock, and I’d get there, and the band is Steve Jordan playing drums and Willie Weeks playing bass. Playing with Steve made me instantly better by the day, as a musician.

I honestly don’t remember how I ended up saying, “Would you work on my record with me?” It just happened. And Pino came on: He initially came out to New York to do a tsunami benefit in January of ’05, and the rehearsal was just unbelievable.

RS: You guys played a Hendrix tune, right?

JM: We did a Hendrix tune called “Bold as Love,” which is one of my favorite Hendrix tunes. I’m a big believer in a different Jimi Hendrix than most people know.

But the rehearsal was a real fresh injection of muse, you know? I felt at the time that I was coming to the end of this concept of being the “acoustic groove guy,” you know, and it just so happened to intersect with finding these guys to play with. But above that, to hear it all together — it’s always nice when something you want to work also happens to naturally work a lot ... When something conceptually makes sense and pragmatically makes sense, that is one of the best times in life ... And it opened up this part of my brain I was waiting on, that next phase.

RS: Did you know that you wanted to bring other people in, with this whole trio idea — because of Clapton and Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughn?

JM: I knew that I wanted to take myself out, rather than put myself in. I wanted to take myself out of the running for this invisible pop prize that just doesn’t exist ... When I do the blues thing, when I do the Trio thing, when I do the new record [Continuum], there’s something about it that is a little bit less jockeying for position. It’s hard to explain.

RS: There’s this moment on Try! where you’re just talking to the audience, the bit about “where the blues is born, Fairfield, Connecticut!”

JM: Yeah, trying to stare at the white elephant in the room and go, “Hi, I’m the white elephant. Hey, how you doing?” But I’ve always stood up for blues music as something that is self-anointing. There are enough things in life that people are jockeying into position to try to fake — blues is not one of them! Maybe someday you can accuse somebody of being a poseur by selling out and playing blues music, but that’s just not going to happen in my lifetime. If you are cool enough, if there’s a fifteen-year-old who’s hip enough to decide that he wants to be like Freddie King, and he’s going to go buy a cherry red 335 electric guitar, he’s already like Freddie King. He might not play like him, but he’s as much like Freddie King as Freddie King was — in the sense that ... it takes certain people to go, “Wait a minute this is where it’s at.”

RS: Because I know you guys didn’t rehearse much at all before hitting the road.

JM: No, we only rehearsed for four or five days. But that’s when we wrote all the original tunes, in that streak: it was all out of pure necessity. I was so scared of being a cover band that I wrote these tunes really fast. I wrote the lyrics in the hotel rooms in the first week of the show. I wrote the lyrics for a song called “Try” in the production office in San Francisco, taped the lyrics to the monitor and sang off the monitor. I wrote the lyrics to “Good Love Is on the Way” before night two of L.A., went back from sound check, ordered room service, turned all the lights off and just went, “How bad do you want to have this song done for L.A.? Real bad. So write it.” It was an amazing place to write songs from. It was just a run-and-gun thing.

RS: Were you worried at all? Did you have this thought that your fans’ reaction would be, “What the hell is this?”

JM: A little bit. But number one, my audience is fantastic. Smart, incredibly giving ... So if I mention in an interview that I love Albert King, people go and buy Albert King records and listen to find out what it is. And then I go and play these shows, and girls are cheering for guitar solos in these hip places to cheer where most people don’t. And it’s like, how did they know?

Then again, my outlook to being a musician is calibrated to being as much of a normal person as possible. If you’re a normal person, then the things that you like will be normal-person likes and dislikes. If you become so refined that you refine yourself out of the game, then you’re doing things that are so esoteric that they don’t satisfy anybody else but you. So I like to stay as normal as possible and then hope that well, and then I do the math, and I think, “OK, I’m normal. I like what this is, so I’m thinking other people will too.”

Recap of Berklee seminar
John Mayer: Converting Information to Inspiration
I started the John Mayer Trio. Because of that exploration, I was able to come back in the studio and learn fully to take the guitar and writing side and put them together the best I've ever done so far."
Article in Rolling Stone, 2013
"John Mayer on His New Voice, Summer Tour and Dating Katy Perry"

PD: The John Mayer Trio record was very organic in that sense.

JM: Yeah. That was definitely something that I’m talking about that was like, “OK, it’s impossible not to have a great time doing this.” I just have this great opportunity where I haven’t performed for two years, and I’ve been mostly forgotten about for two years, musically. And why not come back and reboot it differently? No one is holding me to a standard that I set a month ago. That’s what’s so great. If I don’t take advantage of this, I’m never gonna have another shot to say, “Hey, when I start this heart back up, it’s gonna be in a different rhythm.”

Interview from The Bobby Bones Show
The Bobby Bones Show: Episode #75

BB: You looked the happiest when you were playing in the [John Mayer] Trio during this show. Any truth to that?

JM: Um, probably, yeah. There’s a freedom to that that nobody is really quite sure what we’re going to do. Three super capable guys that didn’t talk about what they were going to do before they got on stage to do it. So anybody can start it. Sometimes I’ll just stand there and all of a sudden you’ll hear [sings Steve Jordan drum beat], and I go, “Okay Steve is starting it.” It’s just like total freedom. Also, it’s like you can kind of embrace the fact that that’s what that band is. You don’t have to worry about whether it’s going to be, whether you’re playing a song that people know from the radio, or whether people are tired of hearing this, or they want to hear that. They’re kind of resigned to, you’re playing three songs with this power trio that they’re not going to totally know unless they’re super fans.

Interview with Steve Jordan
Layin' It Down With Steve Jordan, Part 2

SJ: This is Layin' It Down With Steve Jordan and my guest today is John Clayton Mayer.

I got one last question for you, any plans for John Mayer Trio?

JM: Here's what I feel—I don't have any plans on my mind right now to do it. Part of it is that my voice isn't what it used to be. it's not it's never gonna be like it was and the ability to wail it's just it's just physically limited now by what I had to do to heal it. And I also think it's a younger man's game. Like these hyper-acrobatic kind of smaller things. Like there's not really a precedent for fiery flame throwing guitar playing for a guy who's 40. A lot of those flame throwers didn't live to 40, you know. I look at you and I can't understand how you are able to stay at the absolute highest level of performance for as long as you've been doing this. Because I can even feel as I'm playing the muscles in my forearms just like spasming as I'm playing.

SJ: Yoga.

JM: Oh, is it really yoga? 

SJ: Yeah.

JM: So maybe John Mayer Trio yoga retreat. Could you picture Pino doing a tuck?

SJ: [Laughing] A downward facing dog.

Podcast interview with Dean Delray
Let There Be Talk, Part 1 of 2, Episode #501

JM: And I think if you're just making one record you can't see the picture, if you’re making two records you can't see the picture, but then you go off and do this other thing you want to do that you're curious about which is the power blues trio which is me and Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino. I remember that, that was a war with the record company.

DD: That had to be!

JM: "Daughters" was the last thing I had done before I went out to do John Mayer Trio. 

DD: You know how mad they must have been, it's right up there with when Neil Young signed with Geffen and then turned in the electronic record. And then they're suing him. I mean—that is the lockdown right there I think that is where John Mayer branched off and it was like “you don't own me and I'm not a pop guy.”

JM: I had to—I don't even think of it like as much I had to go and do this particular thing, it was I have to not do this again. 

DD: Right. 

JM: I can't and I remember talking about being triangulated like, Okay "Your Body Is a Wonderland" was a hit and "Daughters" had just been a hit. And I mean, it's on the record I didn't want "Daughters" to be a single for the very reason that I didn't want to be pigeonholed as this super sensitive guy. But once "Daughters" was a hit—and god bless everyone at Columbia for sneaking it on the radio and showing me that it really could be that big—and I wouldn't take it back now, but I remember going, The next thing I do, if it's a soft rock ballad is going to lock me in for life as that guy. 

And the Trio thing came out of breaking out of that box.