It's a busy time for Maroon 5. The touring band is enjoying the benefits of having a lead singer (Adam Levine) on a popular show like "The Voice" and on Thursday the "Makes Me Wonder" rockers will play at the Indiana State Fair, donating their performance fees to victims of Saturday's concert tragedy there.
On the musical front, Billboard.com caught up with guitarist James Valentine on Monday and talked about the "Voice" effect, missing recovering tour mate Gavin DeGraw, and how they plan to unleash their next album "sooner rather than later."
"We've sort of taken our time with our last two studio albums, for a couple of different reasons," Valentine tells us, noting that 2007's chart-topping "It Won't Be Soon Before Long" was following the massive success of the quintet's 2002 debut "Songs About Jane," while last year's "Hands All Over" came in the wake of "our first break from the road in many years."
"But this time," Valentine says, "we're going to turn around a lot quicker and hopefully have something out by next year, earlier next year. We've got a mobile recording rig. We're gonna try to start writing songs while we're out here on tour, so hopefully that'll go well." Valentine adds that "we have literally hundreds of ideas that can become Maroon 5 songs," and that he and keyboardist Jesse Carmichael in particular use Apple's Logic recording software to work on. "You can do a tremendous amount with just your laptop," the guitarist notes. "We basically carry studios around in our backpacks, so we're always able to create no matter where we are -- literally on airplanes, on buses and a lot of hotel rooms."
Maroon 5 does have one new song it's performing during its summer co-headlining tour with Train: "Moves Like Jagger," which features Christina Aguilera, frontman Adam Levine's fellow judge from NBC's "The Voice." Maroon 5 and Aguilera performed the Top 10 track June 21 on the show, and Valentine reports that "it's a great addition to our live set, too. It's been a lot of fun to play.
"It's kind of exciting just in that there can be that fast of a turnaround and that you can put out a song that fast, and we're so happy that people have been responding to it," Valentine says. "We were thinking about maybe just saving it for our next record, but there was this opportunity to put it out and play it on 'The Voice,' so we thought, 'Let's just throw this out to the world,' and it's really been exploding."
Valentine says the rest of Maroon 5 is not shy about giving Levine "a lot of grief now that he's a reality TV star," but he adds that "The Voice" has been nearly as good for the band as it has been for its lead singer. "There's been a huge bounce for us," Valentine says. "We were really nervous about the show. It didn't seem very cool to us when we first heard about it, and we were really worried. But it turned out to be such a great thing. You're exposed to a whole new audience, and now every day somebody comes up to me and says, 'I didn't really know your band, but then I saw Adam on the show and I went back and bought the records, and I really like them.' So it's been great."
Valentine adds that he's not surprised coach Levine had the winning first-season contestant, either. "He's one of the most competitive people that I know, and I think that's a big reason the show works," Valentine explains. "He loves to compete, and while we're on tour we get in bitter, bitter battles over stupid things, like 'Halo,' the video game. We'll get into endless competitions. He hates to lose. So once I heard the set-up of the show, I was like, 'Oh, he's definitely going to be playing to win, and I would hate to be facing off with him in any sort of competition.' "
Meanwhile, Valentine says Maroon 5 and Train are looking forward to Gavin DeGraw's return to the tour on Aug. 24. DeGraw has missed several shows after being attacked on Aug. 8 in New York's East Village, suffering a broken nose, a concussion and facial lacerations. "Matt (Flynn), our drummer, used to play for Gavin so he's been talking to him and (DeGraw's) recovering and should be able to come back out," Valentine says. "It was just a huge bummer because everyone was having a great time and it was a great show. Of course, it's been a horrible ordeal for (DeGraw), but we're looking forward to having him back out with us."