Indy: Before making your current album [We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things], you took an extended break and settled back into life in San Diego. You even went back to playing gigs in a coffee shop. Why did you have to get back to the life you knew before you got signed and started having success?
JM: It was just an important time for me to withdraw from the music industry because I knew I wanted to write a new album, but I didn't want to be affected by the industry. I didn't want to write every song and wonder, "Is this going to make it on the record?" ... So I knew the only way to do that was just to unplug. So when I would write, it was strictly cathartic, it was strictly for the soul's purpose.
Indy: I take it that something must have been missing for you when you were touring behind your second record [Mr. A-Z]. What told you it was time to step away?
JM: I was just really burned out. I had become so comfortable with how everything worked that I could pretty much live a day on autopilot and not have to have any feeling. I knew how to answer every question, I knew how to perform every show. And that's not what I want to do. I want to be jazzed up night after night. I want the songs to be true. And I really do want to connect with people.
Indy: So how does your live show sound now?
JM: It's funny, I think the sound is stripped-down, but we do have eight people this time. That's because we include a horn section. The biggest difference is we have no electric guitar and [we have] horns now. Horns are such a big part of the album, I couldn't leave those at home. They really do make it a party.
At Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Sept. 19.