John Mayer is a Grammy-winning pop-rock songwriter and one of the most acclaimed guitarists of his generation. But in recent years, his tabloid-bait relationships and controversial statements (most famously in a 2010 Playboy interview) have turned the spotlight away from music toward his personal life. Taking a break from working on a "deeply personal new album" in Los Angeles, Mayer opened up to MSNBC about his toxic "ego addiction" and his struggles to start anew.
"I didn't have a drinking problem," Mayer says in the above clip. "It was a thinking man's fiasco. When you're 23 and you begin your life at the top of the chart, and you've got that spunk, and you go, 'Bring on the world.' When you invariably do find out that not everything you touch turns to gold, you've got a choice: You either bleed out or you tie off. . . I tied off after I went, 'Alright, dude, you did a couple interviews where you were out of touch and being a ham and basically breakdancing into a nitroglycerin plant. Now you don't even have the chance that everyone's gonna love you – ever again.
"In that period of time, I would have rather killed myself than been killed," he continued. "I was never going to wrap my Corvette around a tree. My high-speed crash was an intellectual one."
Later in the interview, the musician talked about his ex Taylor Swift, applauding her decision to pull her music from Spotify. "Artists need the person with the loudest voice to speak for them," Mayer said. "I think that's a really cool thing for a musician to do. There's only two percent of the music industry that has 80 percent of the media about it. There's like four people who get all the press. . . The only reason we're talking about Taylor Swift taking Spotify on is because she's Taylor Swift, and that's great."
Labeling himself a "recovered ego addict," Mayer also discussed his obsession with the cheap thrill of Twitter feedback and seeing his name in headlines. He says he wouldn't know what to say to his younger self, and he thinks the world has entered a new – more destructive – age of celebrity.
"I wrote this new, up-and-coming Australian rapper – I don't want to give her name away – and I said, 'This is it; don't be upset that you're feeling like you're just an inch away from having your cake here," he says, in an obvious nod to Iggy Azalea. "This is the new way it's going to be. You're never going to do it seamlessly."