A 2003 interview with Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
By Melody Alderman
PS: First question I have is something I thought was really interesting about you guys. You have a very different industry situation than nearly any other artist around. You have the backing of a label that is actually using artist development to launch you, which is unfortunately strange in today’s music industry.
ADAM: Yeah, what a novel concept right? It’s pretty incredible that the nature of the business is changing so much. Major labels can launch pop stars really easily. It just involves a lot of money and throwing it at everybody and having a pretty face and a catchy song that you hire a songwriter to write. It’s simple. That kind of formula’s really easy but as far as a rock ‘n roll band, you gotta go hit the road and you gotta do so many things to develop yourselves. Nobody is going to give a shit about you if you try to just launch yourself without having any sort of background or history. So, it’s been amazing. I think you have to have a label that knows that the internet is a factor. People are going to be downloading your record which is a good thing, you know? There’s a lot of different things that are changing I feel like the record industry is opposed to it but to try to go against the grain is just silly. You have to kind of go with the flow. Our label is very aware of all of the things that are changing about the business and that’s probably one of the reasons why it’s working for them and for us.
PS: Well record labels have had the upper hand for so long and now everything’s shifting.
ADAM: Yeah, and everyone’s whining and crying about losing control. The sales are down but then, come on. They still have a lot of control. They should, rather than freak out and start trying to go guns blazing and regaining all the control they should kind of adapt so that they can use that as a tool. I mean, hopefully they will. I’m not pro-record business but they are smart.
PS: How has it been being involved in this situation as opposed to the way you were dealt with when Kara’s Flowers was signed?
ADAM: Well, Kara’s Flowers was pretty much the opposite of what we’re doing now. Like, how the label Octone is doing a grass roots approach and having us tour for a year before they try to blow us up and artist development and all that stuff. Kara’s Flowers was just floating up the wall beneath the sticks. Make a record quickly, put it out. No touring base, no nothing. Just try to make it happen right out of the gate and it just doesn’t work. Even if it was to work, it still doesn’t because you may become famous or successful or sell a million records or win a Grammy but it will all die away so quickly. I just feel like to have longevity at this point, you gotta earn it. You gotta have a base. You gotta kind of suffer a little bit. Tour as a band for a year and do all of the shit that rock bands are supposed to do in order to achieve it. Otherwise it’s kind of this weird, flimsy, soulless fame that goes away really quickly.
PS: So, Songs for Jane. I take it that you and Jane weren’t in a very good place when these songs were written because it’s a great break up record. If you’re going through a break up, then this is the album to listen to. I’ve been listening to it very loudly.
ADAM: Yeah, well I did. It’s weird because it is definitely a concept record if you really think about it. Not every single word is about her but I was trying to just go with the record, lyrically, while making the statement, ‘This relationship isn’t working. It isn’t working. I hate you. You’re a bitch. Fuck you, but I love you and you’re amazing and I hope things can work out but if they can’t then fuck you.’ Then finally at the end it’s like, ‘Alright, it’s not gonna work out but let’s do this peacefully,’ That’s really kind of what happened. I think that it’s a really nice story if you really pay attention to it.
PS: What do you think the emotional or lyrical content would be like if you were to work on a new record today, at this point in your life?
ADAM: Oh God, uhm… there are a couple of lingering songs that we haven’t developed yet that are lyrically in the same theme. They were kind of just post Songs About Jane. I was still harping on things even shortly after we wrote lyrics for the record. There will be a couple more Jane songs probably but it’s kind of the end of that phase. So there will be a couple of those. I don’t know. I mean, I went through a period where I was kind of emotionally detached from everyone, especially girls, so I wrote. I kind of started to focus on other people’s relationships to find inspiration because I wasn’t finding any in my own life. "She Will Be Loved" was actually written from a friend's perspective.
PS: One of the ways your music is being introduced to people is by opening for a lot of major acts like Matchbox Twenty, Sugar Ray and now you guys are touring with Counting Crows and John Mayer. How are the egos in situations like that when there are that many musicians sharing a common stage?
ADAM: The egos? The egos are probably just fine because they’re all in successful bands. We’re just rookies but I mean, we’re opening up for them so I don’t think there’s any real problem. Everyone on the tour has been unbelievably cool to us. They’ve all believed in what we’re doing. It’s been really harmonious. Everyone has been awesome. There have been no ego problems, at least, not that we’re aware of. I don’t think you have much of an ego… well, maybe you do have ego problems, but when you’re headlining a venue with like ten thousand people screaming your name, I’m sure they’re pretty confident in what they’re doing.
PS: So your guys’ album came out a year ago. Have you noticed a shift in things yet, like more people at the shows, more recognition?
ADAM: Definitely. That’s the most amazing thing in the world to experience. You know, the fact that we can be playing in an arena at this point and there’s a substantial amount of people who know who we are and they’re cheering. They’re singin’ the words. It’s like not real. I can’t get my head around it. It’s crazy. You never believe it. You never believe that out of that many people there’s going to be a chunk that’s gonna be able to make enough noise or make a dent all the way for you to hear. You know what I mean? You’re like, oh my God. These are actually for us? It’s crazy.
PS: When will you know you’ve made it? What’s a situation or experience that could happen that would make you feel like, ‘Okay, we’ve definitely made it.’
ADAM: Probably never. I mean, it’s weird ‘cause I am so grateful and appreciative of every step of the way of what we get and can maintain. But, there will probably never be a moment where I say, ‘I’ve made it.’ Maybe there will be. I mean, I think that I’m so constantly dissatisfied, always wanting more which is terrible and I need to get over that. I’m incredibly competitive because I grew up playing sports and then I switched to music so it’s a part of my nature. I still wanna be the best, which is awful because it has nothing to do with music so I gotta kind of get over that. But I think I’ll definitely reach a day where I say, ‘I’ve made it.’ I think to a larger extent we already have made it, you know? We’re touring in a bus and we’re selling records. People are buying our record and coming to our shows screaming our names, giving us gifts and drawing pictures of us. I think that’s definitely success on a certain level.
PS: I’m sure you’ll be headlining soon. Many people have told me they've heard the record and loved it.
ADAM: I know it’s crazy. People like this record. It’s very, very odd. I mean, it’s weird too because I truly think when you hear it, I don’t want to sound arrogant or anything, but every single person that we’ve ever talked to who says they love our record has said, ‘You guys are going to be fuckin’ huge.’ It’s a crazy thing to hear it. I think that we’ve actually believed it all along so it doesn’t make our heads any bigger but it’s crazy. What a crazy thing to think about, us being really huge and the fact that everybody that has our record believes that too. It’s so unfathomable in so many ways. I’m so excited. We’ll talk again when we are huge. We’ll talk about how crazy it is.
PS: But at that point don’t you think you’ll have gotten to a place where you’re used to it and you’re kind of over it when it becomes just a way of life?
ADAM: Over it? I don’t know about over it. Maybe used to it or accustomed to it. I don’t think Beyonce’ goes home everyday and says, ‘Can you believe I’m famous? Oh my God, it’s so crazy. I can’t believe it.’ She’s just famous, successful, sold billions of records and she is probably very appreciative of it but probably used to it at this point. Maybe she goes home and freaks out everyday. She can’t believe it. I doubt it though.
PS: Maybe she goes home and freaks out in front of her mirror.
ADAM: (in a high voice) ‘I’m on TV!’ No, I think it’s ideal if you never really lose that innocence and get excited about things. Like if you’re going to be on TV or you’re going to be doing something you’ve wanted to do for a long time, to not take it for granted and be jaded and say, ‘Oh God, I gotta do this shit again?’
PS: What experiences have you had with hearing your single ‘Harder To Breathe’ on the radio?
ADAM: We finally saw our video last night. We stayed up until four in the morning just to see it on VH1. I’ve been determined to do it. So that was exciting kinda but kinda lackluster. I’m not crazy about the video. It’s just boring. I don’t know. It’s alright. I don’t dislike the video. I just don’t love it, you know?
PS: I understand that Stevie Wonder has been a huge influence on you. Have you had a chance to meet him yet?
ADAM: No. My girlfriend just met him though. I can’t believe it. She was doing a charity event and she just shook his hand and he said, ‘Hello I’m Stevie.’ ‘Hi, how are you doing?’ It was so cool. She played music and he played live. She called me from the place. It was just an intimate gathering. It was like the shi-shi benefit thingy. She called me and he was playing "Higher Ground." Stevie Wonder playing live and I was like, ‘God! Uhh!' I’m really bummed that I missed it. It was crazy. But yeah, I have not met him yet. Hopefully I will meet him someday.
PS: So maybe that’s when you know you’ve made it. Stevie Wonder calls you and says he wants to work with you.
ADAM: If Stevie Wonder calls me I will know that I’ve made it! If Stevie Wonder knows who I am. If Stevie Wonder knows, has heard of, knows of our music, I will know I’ve made it.
PS: So aren’t you happy I didn’t even ask you about the musical transition from Kara’s Flowers to Maroon 5? When I was doing research, every interview I read they asked you that.
ADAM: I’m gonna just be like, ‘You know what?’ Next time someone asks I’m just gonna be like, ‘Listen, I really don’t want to talk about that. Let’s talk about Maroon 5.’ I mean, it was so long ago. The interview is for Maroon 5. I understand people want to talk about it. It makes perfect sense but I’m just sick of talking about it. I’m so sick of ‘How did you guys meet?’ You know, dah dah dah dah dee…
PS: Who’s Jane?
ADAM: Exactly. I like you so, so much. You’re my favorite person in the world.
PS: Seems like a good note to end on. Thanks Adam.
rainbows and butterflies,
it's compromise that
moves us along, yeah
My heart is full and
my door's always open
You can come anytime you want"
Song * She Will Be Loved
Album * Songs About Jane
as we all tried so hard to remember
The way it feels to be alive
The day that he first met her
Something’s gotta change
Things cannot stay the same
You make me think of someone wonderful, but I can’t place her"
Song * Goodnight Goodnight
Album * It Won't Be Soon Before Long
To love you so hard for so long
So much stronger than before
But so much harder to move on
And now the bitter chill of the winter
Still blows through me like a plague
Only to wake up with an empty bed
On a perfect summer day"
Song * I Can't Lie
Album * Hands All Over