By E.J. Judge

With “Love on the Weekend,” John Mayer released his first single since “Who You Love” with Katy Perry in 2013 — if you exclude his cover of Beyoncé’s “XO” the following year — to widespread acclaim from fans and critics alike. The track will appear on his upcoming studio album, The Search for Everything, expected for release in 2017 and, again, his first solo effort in more than three years.

Related: John Mayer Returns with ‘Love on the Weekend’

The break wasn’t a separation from music, but more a sabbatical from “John Mayer” the product. The past several years has seen Mayer be a part of a band— Dead & Co. (former Grateful Dead members Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Bill Kreutzmann with Mayer, Oteil Burbridge, and Jeff Chimenti)—instead of being THE band, which has done wonders for him as a musician.

“It was one of the greatest things, if not the greatest thing, that happened to my career since actually having a music career,” Mayer told Fresh 102.7’s Karen Carson. “It’s opened so many doors. It’s excited me again.”

Mayer utilized a variation of the old “tools in your tool box” metaphor to further describe the positive effects his time in a band with talented and seasoned professionals has done for his career.

“You have a certain number of crayons in your box and, as you keep making music, you have to keep using those same crayons to make new music and it gets increasingly difficult as time goes on. And for me, the Dead & Co. project just totally infused just a whole new world of music into my life.”

Millions of albums sold and several Grammy wins as a solo artist would signify success for a musician, but Mayer disagrees, saying, “I make a good John Mayer as a person and I don’t make a very good John Mayer as a product. I don’t run it very well.”

Dead & Co. has given Mayer the ability to walk away, or as he says, “I just keep walking and they don’t stop me”; he shows up to record, rehearse, walks on stage with his guitar, and goes home. The obligations of being a purely solo artist no longer weigh him down and he’s “ready to do that in my life now.”

“It’s forced me to look at it from a different perspective which is so much healthier,” adds Mayer before clarifying, “I am not IT. I do IT. But I am not IT.”

See the full interview with Mayer now at Fresh 102.7.

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