Q&A: James Valentine of Maroon 5
California pop-rockers Maroon 5 captured their first of three Grammy Awards in 2005, when they were crowned Best New Artist, and the group has already logged more than 15 million albums sold worldwide.
Last September, the band released its latest effort, "Hands All Over," which was produced by studio legend Robert John "Mutt" Lange. The collection notched a No.2 debut on The Billboard 200 album chart and spawned the Grammy-nominated single "Misery" in the Best Pop Performance By a Duo or Group with Vocals category. In December, "Hands All Over" was certified gold, with sales of more than 500,000.
Most recently, Maroon 5 made waves with the release of the new song "Moves Like Jagger," a duet with Christina Aguilera, with whom frontman/rhythm guitarist Adam Levine shared coaching duties on NBC-TV's "The Voice." The song, which made its debut on "The Voice" last month, hit No. 1 on the iTunes Top Songs chart.
"Moves Like Jagger" is a quintessential Maroon 5 power pop-hit with an upbeat, funky tune and catchy lyrics. In addition to releasing its new song, Maroon 5 is co-headlining a summer tour of North America with Train. Kicking off July 22 in Chula Vista, CA, the outing is scheduled to visit 40-plus cities.
SoundSpike chatted with Maroon 5 lead guitarist James Valentine about his side project JJAMZ, how he and his Maroon 5 bandmates kept busy as Levine tackled "The Voice," and what fans can expect from the tour. Besides Levine, Valentine is joined in Maroon 5 by keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bassist Mickey Madden and drummer Matt Flynn.
SoundSpike: Are you still at home?
James Valentine: Yes. Actually, I'm in my car but I am in Los Angeles. I'm driving to a recording studio where I'm working on a record with my side project called JJAMZ [Jason Boesel, Valentine, Alex Greenwald, Michael Runion and Z Berg], which I come in and work on when Maroon 5's not doing stuff when Adam's off doing "The Voice."
What can you tell me about the project?
It's cool. It's different. We have this great singer Z Berg. Her name is Elizabeth but she goes by Z. She was the singer in the band called The Like. There's her and the singer who was previously in a band called Phantom Planet. Our drummer was formerly in a band called Rilo Kiley. We were all friends and we were casually getting together over the last few years when we were all around and working on songs together. We actually have a whole record done now, so we're going to put it out at the end of this year.
I was going to ask how the band keeps busy with Adam on "The Voice."
Jesse stays pretty busy; he's always working on his own stuff. Mickey, he has a side project. Matt's kids keep him pretty busy when we're off the road.
Are you looking forward to your tour?
This is going to be an amazing tour. It's great to be outside with this energy with people coming out to shows this time of year. It's great to go out and see the whole world, but we love the American fans. We're very much looking forward to this tour. We spent a lot of time touring internationally this year. It's great to return home. There's no place like home. We love our American audiences, of course.
With Train, it's a great bill.
I think it will be a great bill, too. I think there's a lot of crossover with our fans. I think fans of Train can be converted over to the Maroon 5 gospel and I think fans of Maroon 5 can be turned on to Train. It's a great little exchange.
Tell me about the song "Moves Like Jagger." How was it to record with Christina Aguilera?
I actually wasn't in the studio when Christina came in and laid down the stuff. I heard that it all went very well. I heard the track. It sounds great. We recorded the rest of it before she came in and laid her part down, of course.
It must have been exciting to do something different.
It's definitely a more dancey sort of track. It's fun. It'll turn people on to a new side of us.
So on to "Hands All Over." Did you record it any differently than your last couple records?
Our process is pretty much the same, but what's different is we flew away to Switzerland and did the actual tracking of the record out there. We've always recorded our records here at home in Los Angeles. That was a bit different to be out there and be a little more isolated. Of course to be working with Mutt, which was an extreme privilege. He was an amazing fella.
What was the most important thing you learned from him?
I think the most important thing was patience. He has so much patience, taking as much time as it takes to come up with the right part or the right sound. I know there's an impulse in the studio or when you're doing anything is to move on, to get something done. He's more concerned with getting something right than getting it done for the sake of getting it done. That does take an extreme amount of patience. I think observing that is very valuable for us.
How was it to work with Lady Antebellum on "Out of Goodbyes"?
Jesse and I had written the guitar parts for that, and Adam came in and laid down the song really quick and it turned out to be a country song. We said, "Wow, that's interesting. We just wrote a country song." Lyrically it sounded like, "Wow, this could be a male-female call-and-answer thing. We started brainstorming who would sound good on this. Lady Antebellum came up and they were willing to do it. We sent them the files. Working with them -- I don't know if you could call it that. We sent them the file and they sent it back. We didn't meet them until after the record was already out. But they did beautiful stuff over it so we were very pleased.
It must have been amazing when they said yes.
It was great. It was really magical to hear it come back and hear all that extra stuff on it. It was like, "Wow, that's not the same song we sent."
Have you started writing new material for Maroon 5?
We're always assembling ideas. We have probably one fully formed song that will go on the next record. Beyond that, we have, like, literally hundreds of nuggets of ideas that will eventually grow into songs.
What can we expect from the live show?
Well, we constantly get the feedback that people prefer the way we sound live, for whatever that's worth. They're always saying, "Oh wow, that's amazing. I like you guys better live than on the record." So expect something a little different. I think when we perform these songs live, it's a little more raw. It's a little more unleashed and we get to stretch the song out a little more. Now that we've got three records out, we have a pretty good catalog of songs that people know. We can pretty much pound the crowd with songs that they want to hear. We're not one of those bands that won't play their most famous songs. We put all the crowd favorites in there. Even the Train fans who aren't as familiar with us they'll still know some of the songs.
22 - Chula Vista, CA - Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
23 - Paso Robles, CA - Grandstand at California Mid-State Fair (w/ Train)
24 - Los Angeles, CA - Hollywood Bowl (w/ Train)
27 - Albuquerque, NM - Sandia Casino Amphitheater (w/ Train)
28 - Morrison, CO - Red Rocks Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
31 - Mount Pleasant, MI - Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort (w/ Train)
2 - Charlotte, NC - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
3 - Virginia Beach, VA - Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach (w/ Train)
5 - Camden, NJ - Susquehanna Bank Center (w/ Train)
6 - Bethlehem, PA - PNC Plaza at Steelstacks (Bethlehem Musikfest)
7 - Mashantucket, CT - MGM Grand at Foxwoods (w/ Train)
9 - Saratoga Springs, NY - Saratoga Performing Arts Center (w/ Train)
12 - Wantagh, NY - Nikon at Jones Beach Theater (w/ Train)
13 - Mansfield, MA - Comcast Center (w/ Train)
15 - Hershey, PA - Hersheypark Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
17 - Nashville, TN - Bridgestone Arena (w/ Train)
18 - Indianapolis, IN - Indiana State Fair Grandstand (w/ Train)
19 - Des Moines, IA - Iowa State Fairgrounds Grandstand (w/ Train)
21 - Clarkston, MI - DTE Energy Music Theatre (w/ Train)
22 - Toronto, Ontario - Molson Canadian Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
24 - Columbia, MD - Merriweather Post Pavilion (w/ Train)
25 - Syracuse, NY - New York State Fairgrounds (New York State Fair)
26 - Holmdel, NJ - PNC Bank Arts Center (w/ Train)
28 - Louisville, KY - Freedom Hall at the Kentucky Expo Center (w/ Train)
30 - West Palm Beach, FL - Cruzan Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
31 - Tampa, FL - 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
1 - Alpharetta, GA - Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre at Encore Park (w/ Train)
4 - Kansas City, MO - Starlight Theatre (w/ Train)
5 - St. Paul, MN - Minnesota State Fair Grandstand (w/ Train)
7 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - MTS Centre (w/ Train)
9 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Credit Union Centre (w/ Train)
10 - Edmonton, Alberta - Rexall Place (w/ Train)
12 - Abbotsford, British Columbia - Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre (w/ Train)
13 - Auburn, WA - White River Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
15 - Concord, CA - Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord (w/ Train)
22 - Oklahoma City, OK - Oklahoma City Zoo Amphitheatre (w/ Train)
23 - Dallas, TX - Gexa Energy Pavilion (w/ Train)
24 - The Woodlands, TX - The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion (w/ Train)
27 - Moscow, Russia - Crocus City
28 - St. Petersburg, Russia - The New Arena
30 - Helsinki, Finland - Cable Factory
2 - Copenhagen, Denmark - Lille Vega
3 - Hamburg, Germany - Docks Konzerte Disco
4 - Berlin, Germany - Huxleys Neue Welt
6 - Munich, Germany - Tonhalle
7 - Zurich, Switzerland - Volkshaus
9 - Padova, Italy - Grand Teatro
10 - Rome, Italy - Atlantico
11 - Milan, Italy - Alcatraz
13 - Vienna, Austria - Gasometer