Like others before him, Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine is trying to ascertain if headlining the 12th Annual Honda Civic Tour comes with perks -- like maybe a free Honda Civic?
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"Oh, I don't know -- I wish," Valentine tells Billboard with a laugh. "I've got to talk to people and find out if we can get a discount or something." The group did design a customized edition of the car, but that goes to a lucky fan via a drawing. But with or without any little extras, Valentine says he and his bandmates are looking forward to the 34-date North American trek, which gets underway Aug. 1 in Maryland Heights, Mo., and runs through Oct. 6 with Kelly Clarkson and rotating openers Rozzi Crane, Tony Lucca ("The Voice" finalist who's signed to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's 222 Records label) and PJ Morton, the band's touring keyboardist.
"I think it's gonna be a great show," Valentine says. "I mean, Kelly is one of the greatest performers of our time. Think about how long she's been around now. What a freakin' voice. It's going to be awesome to go on after her every night, 'cause that's gonna really force us to bring it. When there's a great performer in front of us it kinda lights a fire under our ass. I know we had that on this last (North American) run with Neon Trees; Tyler Glenn was out there doing his full Freddie Mercury, and I think it pushed Adam to reach deeper every night. I know Kelly will force that, too."
Valentine says Maroon 5 will be modifying the lavish production and M-shaped stage it took to arenas last year and earlier this years, but he's still confident the group will deliver visually as well as musically. "That was more production than we ever had before, and I think it really, really benefited the show," Valentine acknowledges. "I think it was really fun to do a sort of spectacle. We've figured out how to bring some of that into the outdoor venues as well, so I don't think anyone's going to be disappointed. There's going to be a lot of stuff to see."
The Honda Civic Tour represents a bit of a victory lap for Maroon 5 and its campaign for its 2012 album "Overexposed," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 in 2012 and has been certified platinum. "Love Somebody" is out as the set's fourth single, following "Payphone," the Hot 100-topping "One More Night," and "Daylight." "This is the last run around the U.S. for the 'Overexposed' cycle, as they would call it," Valentine notes, though Maroon 5 is headed back to Europe for eight show sin January. "It's gonna be a lot of fun to sort of end this chapter and then move on to what's next."
Maroon 5 has, in fact, already started writing for its fifth studio album -- which will see keyboardist Jesse Carmichael returning to the band after taking a hiatus for "Overexposed." Valentine says the album is "still sort of in the early stages. We definitely have a couple of amazing songs that will be on the record...I think we're going to really find out where it's going in the next few months. We've been so blessed; most bands don't stick around this long. I always thought there was the chance that this group could go to the distance and become one of those groups that's around forever, but I certainly wasn't positive that would happen. So our success now just makes me all the more pleased."