John Mayer starting first headlining tour

JANE STEVENSON

, Last Updated: 11:31 PM ET

John Mayer's new album may be called Heavier Things, but the singer-songwriter refuses to get terribly serious.

In an interview with The Toronto Sun yesterday, the breakdown of his straightforward responses as opposed to his silly, smart-alecky ones is about 60-40.

The captive audience aside (a record label person and his tour manager hover nearby in a conference room of a Toronto hotel) you get the impression that it's just the 25-year-old artist's way of dealing with what he calls "the unnatural situations" that arise from being a bonafide pop star.

The Connecticut native's 2001 major label debut, Room For Squares, sold three million copies. It also spawned the Grammy-winning hit, Your Body Is A Wonderland.

Heavier Things, released three weeks ago, debuted at No. 1 in the U.S. and No. 3 in Canada.

He appeared as the musical guest on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live last weekend, and performs an Intimate And Interactive show tonight on MuchMoreMusic (8-9:30 p.m.).

And now Mayer -- who's based in New York City -- has his first major headlining tour ahead of him. It includes a Nov. 5 date at the Air Canada Centre.

"All I ever really wanted was the opportunity to make another record," he says. "The periphery of it now is as you would expect. I've been through this once before.

"So a little bit of the novelty is gone. And the novelty is what kind of anaesthetizes you at the very beginning. It's such a new experience that it's intoxicating. (I'm) not jaded but (I'm) feeling the need for a little more freedom in how this actually works.

"But, I understand, this is what you earn money doing. You don't earn money playing your favourite guitar solo or being on stage and looking at beautiful women in the front row and playing to them. That's not earning money.

"Earning money is having to do a soundcheck while your ears are stuffed up 'cause you got off the plane that day.

"If you think about the percentage of what comes naturally to what doesn't, it's like 2% of this whole thing revolves around what I initially got into this for."

Mayer, whose analytical lyrics, sexy voice, slim six-foot-four frame and dark good looks have endeared him to many a female fan, doesn't think they make up the majority of his audience.

"The listening audience for the record is probably wider than the people who come to shows," he said. "I think there's a certain type of person who likes a record and still doesn't want to go out to see a show.

"But there are a lot of girls."

As for his sex symbol status, Mayer, who once dated TV/movie star Jennifer Love Hewitt, shrugs and says simply: "It's par for the course, I guess. I don't really believe in it enough to lean into it, and I don't despise it enough to denounce it. I see it as actually something that has nothing do with me.

"Someone making a sign that says, 'Marry me, John,' feels more like, 'Oh, I see what's happening. I guess that's the effect someone's getting.' But I don't feel responsible for it."

He does admit, though, that the top-charting debut of Heavier Things didn't catch him completely off-guard.

"I was surprised, not so much the day it came out surprised, but surprised in slowly realizing, 'Hey, wait a minute. This makes sense that this could be the best-selling record of the week,' " he said.

"The surprise doesn't really come when you win Wheel Of Fortune or Jeopardy. The surprise comes when you're going to be on the show.

"Nothing comes as a surprise anymore when you're in a career where people forecast and project. But the surprise came more on my own, sitting in the studio, and going, like, 'Wow, this seems like something that really might take off.' "


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