Maroon 5 in 'Early Stages' of New Album

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Maroon 5

The band has a batch of "darker songs," but the set's still seeking a direction.

Though the band is still touring to promote 2012's platinum "Overexposed," Maroon 5 is already at work on its follow-up, according to guitarist James Valentine.

"It's still sort of in the early stages," Valentine tells Billboard. "We definitely have a couple of amazing songs that will be on the record. I think we just really like making music now, and I think we're more prolific than ever. But at the same time it's going to be awhile before the record comes out, so maybe some of the stuff we're doing now will fall by the wayside by the time we actually put it out. But we've got some great stuff started, and we're all very excited."

A sense of direction for the album has yet to be defined, however.

"I thought I had a handle on that, but it kind of keeps changing," Valentine says with a laugh. "There was a first batch of songs that seemed like they were darker and maybe a little more organic-sounding, but now there's some other songs that... it's hard to describe, and I think we're going to really find out where it's going in the next few months."

Valentine confirms that keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, who took a sabbatical during the "Overexposed" cycle, will be back on board for Maroon 5's next endeavor, though he won't be returning to the road until that album is released.

"We figured that was the most simple way to do it," Valentine explains. "It's an unusual sort of thing, I guess, but there's no clear rules as to how to do that. I think it's completely understandable he wanted to get off the carousel for a second, but I do get the impression that he's eager to get back."

Maroon 5 is also in prep mode for the Honda Civic Tour, which kicks off Aug. 1 in St. Louis, Mo., with Kelly Clarkson and rotating opening acts -- including Tony Lucca, the former "The Voice" contestant who's signed to Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's 222 Records label, and PJ Morton, who's been keeping Carmichael's keyboard chair warm during his absence.

"I think it's gonna be a great show," Valentine predicts. "It's going to be awesome to go on after (Clarkson) every night because that's gonna really force us to bring it. I like it when there's a great performer right in front of us; it kinda lights a fire under our ass. On this last run we had Neon Trees and Tyler Glenn out there doing his full Freddie Mercury, and I think it pushed Adam to reach deeper ever night. I know Kelly will force that, too."

Maroon 5 is also planning a European tour later this year before it wraps up the cycle for "Overexposed."