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John Mayer
John Mayer’s debut album Room For Squares made it to our Top 10 of 2003. The Record has always supported the young singer/songwriter and now we get an exclusive and detailed look into everything that went into the making of his latest album Heavier Things.

The Record (TR): Did you feel the pressure of living up to your successful first album when you made Heavier Things?
John: In some ways the stakes get higher when you make a second major-label record and everyone's looking. And in some ways absolutely nothing is different, because your voice still sounds the same, and your hands still feel the same on the guitar. You just write your songs. You're just a guy with a guitar putting in a Thai food order at 9 p.m.

TR: Tell us a bit about the process behind the creation of Heavier Things.
John: I came off the road after two years of straight touring and knew exactly what kind of record I wanted to make — it wasn't an accident. I wanted to write songs this time that always felt good under my hands, no matter what. The only real criterion for the record was, ‘Is it fun to play? Is it physically fun to feel the vibration of the strings or the feel of my throat when I'm singing it?' If an idea didn't meet that criterion, it got dumped.

TR: How is this album different from Room For Squares?
John: This record is as different from the last one as I am from the last time I made a record. What that amount is, I don't know, and I'm really interested to find out. Room for Squares was a lot dreamier, a lot more hopeful — hopeful being in lieu of having any experience. Heavier Things is a response to experience."

TR: The new album is the next step up musically, yet it brings back familiar feelings for those who listened to your first album. Comment.
John: There's nothing to reinvent, there's no rethinking, no retooling, no updating. It's just more; it's just continued. People always want to see one record as the calling card, and anything that happens after that record is a giant leap or a transition, or an experimental phase. No, it's not. What if you knew nothing? What if it's just the way it falls? You make a record, and you're not done, so you put another 10 songs out, and I'm not done with that, either.

TR: This album feels more relaxed and almost effortless. What contributes to that?
John: There aren't so many chords, not so many places I have to be at every second, on this record. So I can put my things down in a measure and let my singing and lungs breathe, my guitar playing breathes. It's like building a house with an addition, but not moving into the addition yet. Also, sometimes you feel like there is this assumed level of difficulty around you; I'm inspired by lowering that assumed level of difficulty down to next to zero. Get it down to 'Man records onto tape. Tape goes to record company. Record company puts it out on the shelf.' A lot of the time, you assume that it's going to have to be more difficult than it is. There were moments on the record when I was reminded how liberating it can be to just reduce it down to nothing. Someone puts a microphone in front of you, and you do your thing, which really is not a thoughtful process; it's a thoughtless process.

You can read the rest of our exclusive interview with John Mayer in the January 2004 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.

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