Maroon 5 recalls jamming with Prince and figures out how to balance his influences

In 2002, Maroon 5 released Songs About Jane, which went on to sell something like a bajillion copies around the world. Consequently, the band hit the road for so many years that it didn't have time to record anything other than live albums until this year's It Won't Be Soon Before Long. The result is more Maroon 5 than Kara's Flowers, the band's previous garage-rock incarnation, and delivers a lot more consistency than Songs. We recently chatted with unnaturally good-looking frontman Adam Levine about playing with Prince, balancing influences, and the title of the new album.

New Times: It's not every musician who gets to jam with Prince.

Adam Levine: I had invited all the musicians I knew to my house, and he was one of them, and he ended up stopping by with his band. Kind of took over, obviously, and started playing for a little bit, and there was some sort of technical issue. He immediately put the guitar down and said, "Let's go to my place; jam there. Bring your party over to my house."

Maroon 5: It's easier to breathe now.
Maroon 5: It's easier to breathe now.

NT: So how late does "Mr. Goodnight" stay up?

Levine: Until the wee hours, until pancake time.

NT: Did you have pancakes with him?

Levine: They offered, actually. Believe it or not, they offered, but we were too tired.

NT: How does Maroon 5 balance its strong R&B influences with the energetic rock you all grew up on?

Levine: I think the interesting thing about that is that we're all concerned with, I think, the same end goal. I think that our opinions on how to get there were very different. I know James [Valentine, guitarist] is a big proponent of having it just be more live. I, personally, am on the other end of it, and I like it to be just extremely simple and not particularly unleashed, I guess. So I like it very contained for the record's sake and for the radio's sake, because I think that, personally, my goal is to make records for the radio and make live concerts for live audiences.

NT: And where does the new album title come from?

Levine: Somebody said it. Who was it? We think it might have been Jesse [Carmichael, keyboardist], but it was just one of these strange, nonsensical things that winds up making a lot of sense in some weird, abstract way. I guess it's the closest thing to what a Ringo-ism would have been, like the Beatles when he said, "It's been a hard day's night." You kind of understand what he's saying, but you don't really at the same time. And it was just really apropos, as far as what was going on. We had been on tour forever, not knowing when it was going to end. It was just one of those mantra-like things that had a lot of significance for us. What better to name our second record?

 
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