It’s not stalking; it’s admiring or studying. Magic! singer Nasri Atweh will be found lurking in the wings of the Maroon 5 stage or out front with the rest of the audience after his band finishes its opening set night after night for Adam Levine and company, which have been playing together for more than 20 years.
“We’re on tour with Maroon 5 right now which is a huge opportunity,” Atweh told press backstage at the Juno Awards last night. “We play in front of 15,000 people a night and we’re just learning. I am actually going and watching Adam Levine every night saying ‘How is he controlling this?’ and ‘how does he work the stage this big?’ And the guys are watching their counterparts.
“We’re a new band. We’re not in any rush, but it’s a very quick start and we know that but we’re not in a rush to make it a quick second or third. We’re just chillin’, making the music we love.”
The members of Magic!, while they got together and all live in Los Angeles, hail from Toronto and had a No. 1 smash around the world with “Rude” before getting their live chops together as a unit; they were busy at the time finishing up their debut album, Don’t Kill The Magic. Atweh, guitarist Mark Pellizzer, drummer Alex Tanas and bassist Ben Spivak will be supporting Maroon 5 all over North America in March, into April, then over to the U.K. and Europe in late May until mid-June.
Tonight, Magic! play their hometown’s biggest arena, Air Canada Centre, a date which falls one day after the band appeared on Canada’s biggest awards show, the Junos, an hour away in Hamilton, Ontario — and won a few Canadian trophies.
“We got in at midnight Saturday,” Atweh told Billboard. “Sony had to put us on a private jet, which we’d never been on before. It went very fast. We had to get here.”
Magic! took home single of the year for “Rude,” breakthrough group, and producer for so-called fifth member Adam Messinger’s work (with Atweh) on Magic!’s album; they performed a medley of “No Way No/Rude,” and talked about the music education charity MusiCounts, to which they donated $100,000 including sponsoring Teacher of the Year, Steve Sainas. “Rude” is the ninth reggae song to hit No. 1 on Billboard Hot 100 and the sixth Canadian band, of any style, to have a No. 1 hit in the U.S.
Backstage, the singer, who has a successful songwriting career for everyone from Pitbull and Chris Brown to New Kids on the Block and Justin Bieber, said, “I call it a good start because, here’s the thing, it might not always go this way and if you actually look at the history of most bands, it doesn’t always go their way. You come back with another great song, and then you come back with a song and it doesn’t work as well. Our main thing is to build on any positive thing that we can.”
The song, whose video has racked up 445 million YouTube views since getting posted December 2013, is about a guy asking his girlfriend’s dad for her hand in marriage and he says, “No.”
“Some people are playing it at their weddings, which makes absolutely no sense,” Atweh says. “I think they like the song and they like the ‘marry that girl’ part.”