With just five days to go before John Mayer teams with the Grateful Dead‘s Bob Weir, Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann to form Dead & Company, the guitarist appeared on Andy Cohen’s SiriusXM show to discuss trying to settle into a mindset ahead of the group’s inaugural gig October 29th in Albany, New York. Mayer also provided some insight into the first three set lists from Dead & Company’s maiden trek.
“It’s a challenge for me to figure out how much of this gig is to be enjoyed by way of my having fun – like, shouldn’t the guy who gets to play all these great songs have some drinks and hang out – but I also have to be so focused to be able to play that music that people sort of go a little blurry too,” Mayer said of finding a balance between being a Deadhead and a Dead & Company man. “So I’m trying to figure out to what extent can I enjoy this to the point that I can be loose, because the music is the greatest music of celebration and elation and ecstasy. And for me to be able to do that, I need to go in the opposite of that.”
Mayer added that he likely won’t party at any point on tour because, after each show, he’ll have to go back to his hotel room and do homework, which in this case means studying up on the 80 or so Dead songs he learned for the trek. While the guitarist wasn’t too forthcoming about Dead & Company’s set lists, he did reveal that he and Weir would split vocals on the Grateful Dead’s epic “Terrapin Station” suite. “If you’re a Dead superfan, you’ll understand this: I’ll be singing ‘Lady With a Fan’ and Bob will be singing ‘Terrapin,'” Mayer said.
After Dead & Company’s first gig in Albany, the group – which also features Allman Brothers bassist Oteil Burbridge and keyboardist Jeff Chimenti – will head to New York’s Madison Square Garden for three nights at the World’s Most Famous Arena, including a free performance that will be live-streamed. The band’s first jaunt will conclude with a New Year’s Eve show at Los Angeles’ Forum.
Speaking to Rolling Stone recently, Mayer talked about his favorite part about performing the Dead’s music. “There’s no better music to solo over, and I can tell you because I’ve been doing it a lot. Grateful Dead songs are so much fun to play,” Mayer said. “And some of them are as fun as they are hard to play. Part of the challenge is not disappearing into how much fun it is — [where] you forget that this is actually a highly complex composition.”