John Mayer is well aware, more so than most celebrities, of the less-than-flattering reputation that precedes him: a vain, womanizing jackass who spends as much time shading his exes and giving bizarre interviews as he does actually making music. "I’ve inherited a younger man’s reputation,” he acknowledges in a new interview with The New York Times. “You can even break ‘bad boy’ into good bad boy and bad bad boy — I somehow managed to become a bad version of a bad boy.” But according to Mayer, that couldn't be further from the truth these days. And after reading his Times profile, we kind of believe him.
For example, Mayer opted not to dis his most recent ex-girlfriend, Katy Perry, when asked about a breakup song on his new album The Search for Everything, "Still Feel Like Your Man." But he does admit the song is about the pop star, and that that fact could stir up tabloid speculation about their relationship. “Who else would I be thinking about?” he said, matter-of-factly. “And by the way, it’s a testament to the fact that I have not dated a lot of people in the last five, six years. That was my only relationship. So it’s like, give me this, people.”
Mayer's social life these days consists of swiping right more than going out and partying, though; he's traded alcohol for pot, or, as he so poetically phrases it, “I’m actually very thoughtfully entering cannabis life." (Sounds a lot better than "I started smoking weed," doesn't it?) “It’s just lot of chatter,” he said of the exclusive dating app he uses (which he doesn't name but is definitely Raya). “We all talk to the same people. There are very few people actually meeting up.” Kind of sounds like 99% of people's experiences on dating apps, actually.
But don't get Mayer wrong: The Search for Everything is not exactly a breakup album, though that's how he began writing it. “There were times when tears came out of me, and I went, okay, John, this is not about an on-again, off-again relationship. This is something more profound."
The album was also an opportunity for Mayer to learn how to incorporate a culture into his art without appropriating it — a minefield that many of his peers have failed to navigate. The music video for "Still Feel Like Your Man" features elements of Japanese life and culture, including a geisha and people in giant panda suits. “I think we were as sensitive as we could possibly be,” he insisted. “Part of cultural appropriation is blindness,” Mayer continued. “I’m on the right side of the line because it’s an idea for the video that has a very multiethnic casting, and nobody who is white or non-Asian is playing an Asian person.” No whitewashing is always a good sign; we'll see how successful his efforts to avoid appropriating are upon the video's release. “Do I think that someone is going to tweet that this is cultural appropriation? Yes,” he added. “It’s going to be interesting to see.” As is everything an apparently reformed Mr. Mayer does next.