Q&A With Maroon5's Adam Levine
Excerpted from the magazine for Billboard.com.The following interview with Maroon5 frontman Adam Levine is excerpted from a Billboard Stars special feature that appears in the June 4, 2005, issue of the magazine.
The 16-page special section dissects the success the band has seen, from selling more than 4 million copies of its 2003 Octone/J Records debut "Songs About Jane" in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan, to radio and touring.
To purchase a copy of the issue, click here.
You've been on the road so much, have you had a chance to work on the next album?
No, not really. We've been a little distracted by all this amazing s*** that's been going on. We're not putting ourselves under any pressure to deliver anything so quickly. Also, I think the world can use a little break from us at this point.
Have you had a chance to enjoy your success?
We don't want to bask in it too much; we still want to treat everything as though there is something on the line, which there most certainly is. We want to prove something with our second record that we didn't with our first. It's kind of a daunting task, but I think if we just continue to be honest with ourselves and keep working hard the way we have been, everything will be cool.
What specifically do you want to prove with your second album?
I'm not sure what we want to prove, but I know we want to do something different and unexpected. I think that is safe to say because our musical tastes have already changed since we made the first record, so there is going to be a lot of different-sounding material.
When did you realize the band was a success?
There have been so many of those moments and milestones over the last couple of years I can't pick one as the quintessential moment. It took years to realize that we were in there. As far as we were concerned we were a success when the record went platinum. That's a huge success. Eight million records [sold worldwide] s more like an acid trip.
How important was it for you to establish yourself as a touring band before you had radio and video hits?
That was the goal behind the band in the first place. We had to establish ourselves as a band first and foremost, and all the other stuff would come into play later, like MTV and radio. The record was out a year before they even paid attention to us at all.
We're not going to ride on the coattails of that kind of mass media stuff to maintain a career, but it's nice to have all that other stuff, too. It even makes it prettier, but we certainly don't have to have that forever. We don't rely on anybody other than ourselves to tour, which is very cool.
Sometimes when an artist becomes a sex symbol, as you have, he or she isn't taken seriously as a musician. How do you feel about that?
That's because they're jealous. We play music for ourselves, we have a great time doing it, and we are good musicians. If we were fat and ugly we'd be critically acclaimed. It's absolutely true.
Because that whole [sex symbol] thing comes into it, it changes people's perception of our band. It's kind of an unfortunate byproduct of the way we are marketed. We're starting to take more control of that. All those things will be altered and hopefully repaired by the time we make the next record.
It was in college that you started getting into R&B. What do you listen to now?
I'm a huge fan of every kind of music. My biggest pet peeve is when you ask people what kind of music they're into and they say "indie" or "I like rap." Shut up. That's not true. You like everything.
I love every single kind of music. I like at least one aspect of every genre of music. I think everyone does. People aren't very honest with themselves. I was kind of snobby for a while, but I realized that even the most saccharine, sugary pop song can be the greatest thing ever. But so can a 25-minute crazy avant-garde fusion gnarly Herbie Hancock jam from the '70s.
There's so much great s***out there. I'm getting better at appreciating more of it. I think I can probably even open my mind a little more.
What advice would you give to young bands starting out?
Value each other's opinions. Don't let anyone take over, don't let a tyrannical narcissistic a**hole frontman become the center of it all.
I think that any band that wants to make it has to apply [each member's] strengths equally, and it'll work. We've worked it out based on a lot of humility and a really nice democratic way of doing things. There's no resentment, there's no hard feelings, there's no bad blood; we're all really happy people and totally stoked to see all of this working out so well. We have really healthy relationships with each other.
I learned everything from these guys. We all taught each other something valuable.