In the past almost-decade, Jason Mraz has graduated from park concerts to club shows to radio station holiday hodgepodges to this, his first-ever headlining amphitheater tour.
That probably has something to do with a career that leveled out shortly after his debut single, the breezy, tongue-twister, “The Remedy,” then surged five years later with the inescapable acoustic affirmation, “I’m Yours.”
The song broke the Billboard Hot 100 record by hanging around the charts for 76 weeks and was nominated for a pair of Grammys.
Not to be defined by that piffle, Mraz, 35, quickly returned to the charts with “Lucky,” his sweet duet with Colbie Caillat; earlier this year, a scruffier, slightly brawnier Mraz revisited his sensitive side with another acoustic-based dose of musical encouragement, “I Won’t Give Up.”
His two-month “Tour Is a Four-Letter Word” run – a playful take off on his latest album, “Love is a Four-Letter Word” – brings the Virginia-born, California-transplanted singer-songwriter to Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood this weekend.
He had time for a brief chat earlier this week from a tour stop in Tampa, Fla., to talk about the live show, politics and being green.
Q. This is a big tour for you. How have you had to adjust the staging for amphitheaters? Bigger band? Different arrangements?
A. All of the above. We’re reviving a lot of old songs I couldn’t pull off live [before] and there’s a lot more technology on stage. We’ve got large screens with beautiful content and close-ups of the band. But the key point is having a good time. The goal is for our songs to flow from the stage like the audience is used to.
Q. Did you pick Christina Perri as your opener?
A. I did. It was she who inspired me to work with my producer [Joe Chiccarelli], and we got to spend some time together and duet together. [Marz and Perri sing “Distance” from Perri’s album, “Lovestrong.”] It made perfect sense to join forces for a summer tour. She’s such a powerhouse. She’s always laughing and having a great time with everyone backstage.
Q. What’s inspired this new manly look with the long hair and beard?
A. [Laughs] When I made the last album I really retreated. I moved into a quiet little room in downtown Los Angeles for a couple of months and it was like being in a cave, and when I came out I have a beard and long hair. Then I got home [to San Diego] and took the mirror off the bathroom wall and replaced it with a sign that says, ‘You look amazing.’ It changed my whole outlook. I want to make great music and when I’m not making music I want to better the world.
Q. You’re doing a lot of ‘green’ things on this tour, aren’t you?
A. Absolutely. We’re eating food from local farmers every night and traveling with reusable filters. We’re planting trees in select cities and encouraging fans to carpool to the shows and giving them discounts.
Q. Will you be doing any political campaigning as the election gets closer?
A. Yeah, probably so. I think the swing states, especially. Personally, this isn’t a partisan issue, but I think a four-year term is too short because no matter who you are, you’re going to be met with opposition so you spend the first two years dealing with that and then it’s time to start thinking about campaigning so you have zero time to get anything done. I applaud [President] Obama for all that he has done and would love to see him have another four years to complete his mission.
Jason Mraz with Christina Perri. 7:30 p.m. Saturday. $23-$59.50. Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood, 2002 Lakewood Way, Atlanta. 1-800-745-3000, http://www.ticketmaster.com/.