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Interview:
Maroon 5 at Little Caesars, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

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Success has been sweet as, well, "Sugar" from Maroon 5.



During the past 16 years, the group has released six studio albums, all platinum or better, including last year’s "Red Pill Blues," which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200. Maroon 5 has also scored 10 Top 5 singles -- the latest of which, "Girls Like You" with guest Cardi B, is No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 -- and three Grammy Awards.



And frontman Adam Levine has established his own star as a regular judge on "The Voice," as well as in acting and business concerns that include fashion and liquor.



Maroon 5 maintains, however, and the group -- rumored but no confirmed to be the halftime act for Super Bowl LIII -- is currently on the road for a tour that will take it into mid-2019...



• Guitarist James Valentine says that "Red Pill Blues" "definitely continues what we were doing on 'V'," which means collaborating with hot producers and songwriters under the direction of executive producer J Kash. The lineup includes Charlie Puth, Diplo, Benny Blanco and more, and the album also features guest appearances by SZA, A$AP Rocky, Julia Michaels, LunchMoney Lewis and, on the deluxe edition, Kendrick Lamar. "We've always wanted to be part of the conversation of what's going on in contemporary music," Valentine, 39, says by phone. "We've been that way since the beginning, so we're continuing that. It's the same sort of approach, which was let's get together some of the best producers, all the best producers in the world. If you look at the track listing there's a lot of different and really talented people. That was the approach on 2014's 'V,' and it was kind of working, so why change?"



• "Red Pill Blues displays a bit of a sonic switch, however, with a sound that's more ambient and chilled out than its predecessors. "I really think there's something to be said that we're certainly not spring chickens anymore, and that laid-back vibe, to me, sort of feels more mature," Valentine explains. "It's a little minimal -- definitely more minimal thank, say, (2012's) 'Overexposed,' which was us really going all-out in a full, technicolor pop, kitchen-sink sort of approach on every track. A lot of these tracks are pretty sparse, as far as what's going on. But there certainly are some tracks that have more of a kitchen sink approach, too, but mostly we wanted to keep that sparse minimalism that's the sound of the trip-hop and R&B records, and allowing that space for Adam's voice."



• Levine may eclipse the rest of the band, but Valentine says that's something he and the rest of the Maroon 5 crew have come to accepting grips with. "Y'know, even before 'The Voice' it was very clear that Maroon5 was a band fronted by Adam Levine. A lot of bands run into problems, or break up, because there's a couple of guys in the band that want to be that guy, and we were all very comfortable with Adam being the focal point from day one, so that was never really an issue. So even after 'The Voice' boosted his profile even more it wasn't really different in terms of the dynamics of the band because that was the agreed-upon dynamic. I think everyone's really comfortable with that. I'm just so grateful we've been able to keep the band together the whole time, 'cause it's a hard thing to keep a band going."



• The guitarist adds that the situation ultimately makes everyone else in the band's life easier. "I think everyone's really grateful that we all have pretty low-key lifestyles; We can go wherever we want, and basically live a normal life, and Adam has to deal with a lot of other things having such a big public profile, and he's suited for that, and I don't think the rest of us would really want to sign up for that. It's a lot."



• Playing live, meanwhile, lets Maroon 5 present itself as a full band, according to Valentine. "On the records, it's always more about the song and not about showing what we can all do as instrumentalists. But when we take these songs out live, we get to do these live arrangements of them that usually are different and showcase more of the band. We do things different right now because these songs are created in the studio, and then it's a process of getting the songs and thinking, 'All right, what are we going to do here?' and figuring that out. And then that evolves as we tour and figure out what works and what doesn't. That's been something that we've done from day one, and it's exciting, too."



Maroon 5 and Julia Michaels perform at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 30, at Detroit's Little Caesars Arena. Julia Michaels opens. Tickets start at $49.50. 313-471-7000 or visit

Web Site: www.313Presents.com

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