As [Dead & Company] go along, we pick up new songs for John [Mayer] to learn—and for Oteil—but mostly John. It’s a giant learning process for him. We bring old stuff in and make it new, and it sounds different with John and Oteil than it did with our former bandmates. There’s still a lot to be said in this music. We’ve revamped the Rhythm Devils sections [on this upcoming tour]. It’s a new roller-coaster ride with new sounds and new ideas. The band seems to be humming. It feels good; everybody’s happy and everybody seems to be smiling.

We’re going to keep the tempos up when we can, and we’re going to play our hearts out. That’s the bottom line here: Making sure that we’re up to speed, so to speak, playing the songs at the right tempo. And we play them all in different ways: The songs can sound good slow or sound good fast, sound good loud or sound good quiet. We’re experimenting with quiet now. After years of ridiculous volumes, now we’re learning the soft side. And I like it. We want to be well-versed on everything—to go slow and fast, play loud and soft. So dynamics are a big part of this band. The Grateful Dead could be quiet as a mouse and then explode like a lion.