Maroon 5 Says Adam Levine Is 'Exploring the Lower End' of His Voice on 'Red Pill Blues'

Mauro Pimentel/AFP/Getty Images
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 performs during the Rock In Rio Festival at the Olympic Park in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Sept 16, 2017. 

If Maroon 5's new Red Pill Blues sounds a little more chill than its predecessors, that's not by accident.

"I really think there's something to be said that we're certainly not spring chickens anymore, and that laid-back vibe, to me, sort of feels more mature," guitarist James Valentine tells Billboard. "It's a little minimal -- definitely more minimal than, say, Overexposed, which was us really going all-out in a full, Technicolor pop, kitchen-sink sort of approach on every track. A lot of these tracks are pretty sparse, as far as what's going on. But there certainly are some tracks that have more of a kitchen-sink approach, too, but mostly we wanted to keep that sparse minimalism that's the sound of the trip-hop and R&B records, and allowing that space for Adam's voice." The approach, Valentine adds, made an impact on Adam Levine's singing throughout the album.

"It's using a lower part of Adam's voice, which he's really loving exploring right now," Valentine notes. "He's known for his really high, reedy tenor in, like, 'Makes Me Wonder' and anything like that, and on this album he's exploring the lower end of his range, which he's just really enjoying singing. So he's gravitating towards those sorts of keys and that sort of vibe."

Overall, Valentine -- who co-founded Maroon 5 during 2001 as the group switched from its previous incarnation as Kara's Flowers -- sees Red Pill Blues as logical step forward from 2014's V, collaborating with hot producers and songwriters in order to keep Maroon 5 "part of the conversation of what's going on in contemporary music. We've been that way since the beginning, so we're continuing that. It's the same sort of approach, which was let's get together some of the best producers, all the best producers in the world. If you look at the track listing there's a lot of different and really talented people. That was the approach on V, and it was kind of working, so why change." Red Pill Blues was executive produced by J Kash and marks Maroon 5's first album with longtime cohort Sam Farrar as a full-fledged band member.

The album also features guest appearances by SZA, LunchMoney Lewis, A$AP Rocky and Julia Michaels, who will be Maroon 5's opening act on the road next year. "It's always exciting when you're working with some of these guest artists to send the tracks off, and then it's like, 'Oh, the files are in! Let's hear what we got!'" Valentine says. "That's always really exciting, especially when it's good. It's a real blast." The guitarist is also looking forward to reinventing the new songs live when Maroon 5 plays Dec. 30-31 in Las Vegas and then kicks off a tour on May 30 in Tacoma, Wash.

"On the record it's always more about the song and not about showing what we can all do as instrumentalists," Valentine says. "But when we take these songs out live, we get to do these live arrangements of them that usually are different and showcase more of the band. We do things different right now because these songs are created in the studio, and then it's a process of getting the songs and thinking, 'All right, what are we going to do here?' and figuring that out. And then that evolves as we tour and figure out what works and what doesn't. That's been something that we've done from day one, and it's exciting, too."


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