John Mayer on Playing in Grateful Dead Offshoot Dead & Company: 'I Want Other People to See What I See'
Dead & Company play a third Madison Square Garden show on Saturday
With two shows at New York City’s Madison Square Garden already in the books, Dead and Company return for a third Saturday night – and it’s all for charity.
John Mayer, who joins Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart in a new offshoot of the group, will play an exclusive free show for 10,000 fans, sponsored by American Express Unstaged and benefitting The Robin Hood Foundation. Available to watch on the website and app, the event livestream will be directed by Brett Ratner.
PEOPLE spoke to Mayer, 38, and Weir, 68, ahead of the gig about how they first connected, why the group appealed to them, and what fans can expect from the show.
On how Dead & Company came together:
BW: “From my perspective, I was invited to play with John when he was guest-hosting The Late Late Show and we developed a little chemistry there that was the kind of thing you don’t just offhandedly walk away from. We got to talking and things got rolling. I would play something and I would hear his answer very clearly – he was listening to what I was playing, listening to what I was singing and responding to it.”
JM: “It’s really interesting to be a fan of a certain band at the moment you are the most passionate about it, to offer that passion to that band themselves … because I’m a solo artist, I didn’t say to myself, ‘I would really like to join the band.’ I saw what was possible by way of me being just a fan with a guitar who can interpret and understand the music a certain way. It’s just me plugging myself into this music that’s meant the world to me.
“I’ve always been a connector in my career. If I can help tap some people on the shoulder and say, ‘Check this out, this is what I’m into…’ I get into something so much, I want other people to get into it too because I want them to see what I see.”
On Mayer’s role in the band:
JM: “The only thing I was apprehensive about was whether or not I could devote myself enough to reach the level I thought I needed to reach to be able to interpret the music right.
“I look at something and I go, ‘Do I think I can pull this off?’ And if I think I can pull it off, I stop doubting myself, because once you start doubting yourself you get in the way of the vision, of it actually working. I’m kind of an optimist.
“Once we got down to working, I stopped being apprehensive because there’s just too much music to think about.”
On playing a charity gig:
BW: “In the spirit of a free show, we’ll approach it a little differently. It gives us a license to be a little more experimental, which is cool. It won’t be a stock standard show – we’re probably going to be a little looser.”
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