While we wonder just what we’ve been doing with ourselves, the group have gone to find success across the globe; turning out a further four studio albums including 2007’s Number 1 It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and their most recent, the polished and anhem-packed V.
We caught up with singer Adam Levine and guitarist James Valentine to talk about working with the likes of Sia and Ryan Tedder on the LP, collaborating with Gwen Stefani and to reflect on their seminal debut.
Congratulations on the success of V. How do Maroon 5 celebrate their big achievements these days?
Adam: “I celebrated by watching Sons Of Anarchy. It was good – I finished the sixth season and started the seventh. I like to keep things a bit more low key these days – during our iTunes gig I was drinking herbal tea from an actual teacup. James likes to party though.”
James: “I have so many fond memories of partying in my twenties, particularly in London. These days though, the hangovers are a real kick in the arse.”
It’s your fifth Top 10 album here in the UK and your second Number 1 album in America. That's pretty good going, isn't it?
Adam: “Because the record industry has taken such a dive, we’ve actually been right on track with the decline of the industry. We’ve been at the top of the bottom! I feel like every record we release sells a few less copies, but that’s in line with everyone else I guess. People don’t buy records anymore.
"That said, music isn’t suffering at all. I feel like there are no boundaries these days, whereas back in the day it was a lot more genre-based. It’s more prevalent than ever as well; in our cars, on televisions – it’s everywhere, and that’s a beautiful thing.”
You previously said you didn’t want this album to be a hit-packed as 2012’s Overexposed. That’s a bit risky, isn’t it?
Adam: “There’s never a plan – never. We don’t take risks, we just do what feels right. We don’t really know what we’re doing. My mantra is not to overthink things.”
These days a lot acts from outside the UK are influenced by and recording their music here. Would you consider recording a more experimental album in London?
James: “We’ve always looked to London, but I don’t think we could record an album here. We once recorded an album overseas and…
Adam: “It was a complete disaster. We’re on the road a lot and LA is our home, so it makes sense for us to record there.”
The list of producers and songwriters on V is pretty stellar – Sia, Ryan Tedder, fun.'s Nate Ruess. What was the process like for this album?
James: “Sia is just incredible. You sit down to talk to her and it’s like instant therapy. You can hear in her songs that she has an instinct for human nature. Her melodies are f**king insane as well, and it all just comes out of her. She works so quickly.”
Adam: “I’ve known Sia since she came on The Voice as a guest mentor, though I’ve been a fan of her music for a long time. Benny Blanco is like a beautiful freak of nature who’s good at getting everyone in the room and bouncing ideas around, and me and Ryan Tedder are like two lab rats in the studio.
“What’s great though these days is that you really don’t need to always be in the same room as producers and songwriters. We wrote this song with Benny and Nate Ruess that Nate had initially recorded the melody of into his phone. We were sat in a car listening to this rough mobile phone recording and we wrote a song around it. It wasn't until months later I ended up meeting him for the first time. There’s a million different ways to approach songwriting and changing it up like we did hopefully makes the finished album more interesting.”
You’ve teamed up on a track with Gwen Stefani for the album, which is one of only a few collaborations you’ve ever done. Are you quite choosy about that sort of thing?
Adam: “We don’t like to over-do it. We worked with Wiz Khalifa on Payphone which was his first venture into pop music and we were lucky to have him on that. We feel the same about Rihanna and Gwen. We don’t like to go with the current ‘feature artist’ and prefer to pick someone a bit more out of the box.
“There’s also a lot of talk about ‘selling out’ in the industry these days. To me, that is doing or saying something that you don’t endorse. Having every song on your record have a feature is far more of a sell-out to me than anything else. It shows a strange desperation to be successful. We want to have hits, but you have to combine that decision with tasteful choices.”
A lot of people didn’t think Gwen Stefani would release another solo album. Have you heard any of it?
Adam: “Perhaps. And if I had perhaps it was amazing. If had heard any of the early demos that Pharrell was playing, then maybe they’d be brilliant too. I love that we got to collaborate with her on our album and no-one else gets to do that!”
Your debut, Songs About Jane, is now 12 years old. Do you still have fond memories of that album and time in your lives?
Adam: “Absolutely. That was the album that did everything for us. I’ll always look back on it with so much fondness.”
James: “It opened us up to so many new experiences. I remember waking up every day feeling completely stoked! I think it resonated with people because it I think it did reflect the times. It combined stuff that no-one was putting together at the time.”
Adam: “I remember when it was deeply unpopular. Not even unpopular, just not even computable in peoples’ minds that a bunch of white guys were trying to do R&B. At that time there was [Justin] Timberlake and that was it. It didn’t really exist yet. Now when you watch The Voice you have no idea what they’re going to look like when you turn around. In the past things were meant to fit in their boxes much more. Looking back now I think we were being pretty courageous because the songs we were releasing weren’t the norm.
James: “It seems crazy now but back then people were trying to steer us to be more of a rock band. All of us had to be holding guitars. It sounds made up, but this was an actual conversation – the label had a set way of marketing us."
How more Maroon 5 albums do you have left in you?
Adam: “Five albums in, I think it’s important to take stock for a while. To have the success we’ve had, we’re the luckiest motherf**kers on the planet!
“We’re flirting with the idea of taking a small amount of time off. We’ve always been thinking about the next album and tour for ten years. We’re not going anywhere and we’re not going to disband, but after this album we’ll have a conversation and think about what the next move is.”
Maybe it’s time for a greatest hits?
Adam: “It’s in the works actually. Watch this space!”
Maroon 5's new album V is out now. Their world tour reaches the UK in May 2015. For dates and ticket info, visit their official website.