John Mayer: Battle Star
GW Steve also used heavier strings to produce his tone.
MAYER I’ll tell you, the argument about string gauges is about the silliest thing a guitarist can engage in. Maybe you get a better tone off of bigger strings, but if you can’t bend up to the note, what’s tone anyway? But like Hendrix probably had .010s, so it’s whatever you can bend.
GW Do you find it unusual that you are probably one of the most influential blues guitarists in contemporary music?
MAYER My greatest honor is to look through people’s MySpace pages under influences to see Buddy Guy, Stevie Ray, Eric Clapton and John Mayer. It’s like… it’s unbelievable to me. Those kinds of connections are very meaningful to me. Stevie Ray Vaughan used to talk about his love of Kenny Burrell, Buddy Guy and Freddie King, and that’s the best use of adulation you can possible have—when people get turned on to someone because you like them. If I like X, and X loves Y, then I love Y too. That’s what’s brought a lot of people into blues music.
GW There is this dichotomy regarding your image. On one hand, you’re being sold as this sort of funny individual, yet your music is very earnest and serious.
MAYER I don’t know. It’s not contrived. It’s the honest-to-God way I’ve always been. I think I was really uncomfortable with it as first, ’cause I thought that only one of those sides could live, but I actually think one side keeps the other side alive. Not to get super meta about it, but it’s the price you pay for being different, and it’s uncomfortable. Believe me, I’ve often thought, Am I destroying my career? But this is the way that I’ve always been.
I think people recognize it with time. It’s like, “Okay, I’ve seen how he behaves, I get that he’s not putting anything on.” I don’t want to change anything now. A couple of years ago I would’ve wanted my zaniness to go away. I would apologize for being zany. I’d be like, “I’m sorry I did stand-up comedy last night.” It seemed like a threat. But right now, for whatever reason, it feels like something that’s a little mine. It’s part of who I am.
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