He’s only 32, but John Mayer can already feel the hot breath of younger artists down his neck. “I can't compete with [Miley Cyrus's]  ‘Party in the USA,’” he says. “Every year I'm getting older and I'm getting slightly more removed from the built-in invite into the top 40.”

Mayer may be prematurely predicting his demise: his fourth studio album, “Battle Studies,” has a lock on coming in at No. 1 next week, against such strong (and younger) competition from the likes of Norah Jones, Leona Lewis and “American Idol” winner Kris Allen.

We caught up with Mayer recently at a Burbank, Calif. studio where he was rehearsing for his forthcoming tour. While he still loves his time up on stage, he told us that some of the glamour and intrigue of touring has dimmed.

“When you’re in your 20s, there’s something heroic about pulling into Frankfurt, Germany, and getting in your room and pretending that you’re Jason Bourne and that you’re hiding out from the Interpol and you’re going to sleep here in this little room that’s dressed up like the underside of a little ship,” he says. “You’re going to sleep there for four hours and then you’re going to get up and put on your uniform and you’re going to zip over to the next place. I don’t really want to do that, but I don’t think that anybody should be surprised at my saying I don’t really want to do that, but what I really want to do is connect again with my fans and play music.”

Indeed, Mayer says playing on stage is “like being bulletproof ... I get onstage and for those 90 minutes, I see myself as not a mistake, as not a troublemaker, as not somebody who can't get his s--- together, as not a guy who has to explain himself because people go, "Are you a douche bag or not?" In those 90 minutes, I'm free from my own scrutiny. I'm in the moment and that's always great for me.”
Read the rest of our candid interview with Mayer on MSN Music.