"I lost my head for a little while. I lost touch and I didn’t want to ask for directions," Mayer, 34, tells Ellen DeGeneres in an interview airing Tuesday. "I did a couple really dumb interviews and it woke me up."
Calling it "a very strange time," a chastened Mayer says the conscious decision to step back for two years was the right choice, crediting it with "rocketing him into adulthood."
"I'm glad I actually stayed out of the spotlight," he notes. "Back then I would've said, 'Let me get out and do Ellen and explain myself.' It was like, 'No, idiot. Go away – be 33 and 34 instead of 28 for the fourth year.' "
The time off was productive, leading the guitarist to write and record Born and Raised, out May 22. Unfortunately, the return of a granuloma in his throat after surgery last October means Mayer is unable to sing, forcing the cancelation of his tour and necessitating another surgery, set to take place this fall.
"It's not a health concern whatsoever but it has taken me out of singing," he explains. "Tried to beat it the first time and couldn't. They cut this thing out, then they inject your vocal cords with Botox, which freezes [them] so [they] can heal without smacking up against the other side. I just need more Botox next time."
In the meantime, Mayer has moved to the Bozeman, Mont., area and begun work on his next album.
"I can't sing, so I'm writing," he tells DeGeneres. "I live in Montana – middle of nowhere. It's really excellent. You get to a certain age where you prepare yourself for happiness. Sometimes you never remember to actually get happy. I remembered to get happy."