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New work process suits Maroon5 to a "V"

By Gary Graff
Digital First Media/GraffonMusic on Twitter

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Adam Levine may seem to have his hands full with reality TV (“The Voice”), acting (“Begin Again”) and fashion.

But Maroon 5, the band that provided his launch pad for these other star-making endeavors, remains a full-time concern — albeit in a different manner from before.

“The dynamic of the band has changed a lot in general, as well as in the way we’ve approached making records,” says guitarist James Valentine. “We used to spend such a long time making records, I think because we toured so intently that making the records was a little bit of a vacation for us from the road.

“But now our touring schedule is a little more relaxed because we have Adam doing (‘The Voice’), so while he’s doing the show we just work on the music and one thing rolls into the other anymore.”

That was the case between 2012’s platinum “Overexposed” and last year’s “V,” Maroon 5’s fifth album, which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 after its Aug. 29 release, spawning the Top 10 hits “Maps,” “Animals” and “Sugar.”

“We didn’t really stop recording after we finished ‘Overexposed,’ “ Valentine, 37, recalls. “On ‘Overexposed’ we started working with outside producers and writers and we just kind of kept the process going after we finished that record because we built great relationships with these guys. The writing and recording just keeps going, and (‘Maps’) seemed as much like the fifth single off of ‘Overexposed’ as it did the first single from (‘V’).”

Formed in 2002 after the demise of the band Kara’s Flowers, Maroon 5 was an out-of-the box success with its 2002 debut, “Songs About Jane,” a five-times-platinum phenomenon with the Top 5 hit “She Will Be Loved.” None of the band’s subsequent albums debuted lower than No. 2, and if the creative dynamic has indeed shifted — original keyboardist Jesse Carmichael took a nearly three-year hiatus and Maroon 5 broadened its collaborations — Valentine sees the changes as for the better.

“I think it’s a natural evolution for us,” says the guitarist, who was not part of Kara’s Flowers but joined as Maroon 5 was forming. “The sounds that we’re interested in right now are coming from lots of different arenas, lots of different worlds. It’s not the way we used to make records. And it’s about wanting to be part of the dialogue of what’s happening on radio.

“It’s more of a producer’s medium right now. It’s about experimenting with more of these electronic elements and more of the beats and seeing where that takes us. That seems more exciting right now.”

On “V” Maroon 5 returned to “Overexposed” adjuncts such as Ryan Tedder, Benny Blanco, Shellback and Max Martin, adding new associates such as The Monsters and The Strangerz, Jason Evigan, Sam Martin and Birmingham Groves High School grad Mike Posner (on “Sugar”). Grammy Award-nominee Sia Furler co-wrote “My Heart is Open,” which features Levine’s onetime “Voice” cohort Gwen Stefani.

Valentine says, “People probably don’t realize that for the guys in the band, (Stefani’s group) No Doubt was a really important band in that they worked their way up from the same clubs here in southern California that Kara’s Flowers played up from, so they used to go see No Doubt in the ’90s and they were always role models for what could happen.

“So it’s cool for all of us, as just sort of fan boys, to have her on the record. And Adam wouldn’t shut up about how cool she is as a person. A lot of times when you meet your idols, it’s a letdown, but it’s the opposite case with Gwen.”

Another key change for “V” was Carmichael’s return, which Valentine says gave Maroon 5 a boost.

“It’s been great to have him back,” Valentine says. “We’ve been catching him up on the inside jokes, all the names we’ve sort of developed for each other in the last two years of touring. We’re getting him reacclimated.

“Y’know, we’ve been touring and making records on this constant cycle for our entire adult lives, so the fact that he wanted to step back for a couple of years might have proved he’s the only sane member of the band.”

Valentine expects the craziness to continue apace for the foreseeable future. And while recording is taking a back seat to touring he says Maroon 5’s collaborators let it be known they have ideas for when the band returns to the studio.

“I know a lot of our fans would love to hear us make another ‘Songs About Jane’ type of record, and I think as some point we’ll go back in and make a record in that sort of way,” Valentine says. “But (‘V’) is not that type of record, but we like it and we like the way we did it.”

• Maroon 5, MAGIC! and Rozzi Crane

• 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 18.

• The Palace of Auburn Hills, Lapeer Road at I-75.

• Tickets are $29.50-$125.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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