miércoles, 7 de abril de 2010

AmericanWay Magazine: Hands All Over, nuevo álbum de Maroon 5

Les dejo una entrevista que hizo la revista AmericanWay a Jesse y Adam, quienes hablaron de Hands All Over, su nuevo trabajo discográfico.

All style and no substance? Hardly. Los Angeles pop-rockers Maroon 5 set the record straight with their impressive upcoming new album.

Adam Levine has felt better.

It’s a typically balmy afternoon in Los Angeles, and Levine, front man of the multiplatinum-selling rock band Maroon 5, is hanging out in the kitchen of his funky Spanish-style home, nibbling on takeout sushi and recovering from a rowdy Thursday night that culminated in his belting out Guns N’ Roses’ “Paradise City” at a 40th-birthday bash for Hollywood party maven Brent Bolthouse. Jesse Carmichael, Maroon 5’s keyboardist, is here, too, as is Levine’s chummy personal assistant. As the three men chew over the merits of a handful of hangover remedies, Levine, 31, offers up an interesting medical idiosyncrasy — namely, that he hasn’t tossed his cookies since he was 9 years old, when he got sick after a screening of The Wizard of Oz at LA’s Cinerama Dome.

Might today bring that exceptional streak to a close? Unlikely, says the singer; at this point, he figures he’s immune to morning-after sickness. Plus, he admits, it’s been long enough now that the idea kind of intimidates him.

Given his fragile physical state, you could understand if Levine wasn’t exactly in the mood to answer questions. Instead, he brims with visible passion as he and Carmichael talk about Maroon 5’s forthcoming new album, Hands All Over, and especially about Los Angeles, the city that has served as the band’s base since 1995. That’s the year Levine, Carmichael, bassist Mickey Madden and drummer Ryan Dusick — then students at LA’s Brentwood School — put together a squeaky-clean pop group called Kara’s Flowers, which released only one album before attracting guitarist James Valentine and morphing into Maroon 5. (Dusick left the outfit in 2006 and was replaced by Matt Flynn.) Driven by Top 40 radio staples such as “Harder to Breathe” and “She Will Be Loved,” Maroon 5’s 2002 debut, Songs About Jane, got off to a slow start but went on to sell more than 4.7 million copies; the band’s sophomore set, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 in 2007 and moved another 2.1 million CDs.

Yet for all their commercial success, respect from tastemakers — you know, the folks who can’t get enough of Radiohead and Lil Wayne — has been harder to come by for Maroon 5, who’ve established a reputation for making what Levine describes wryly as “music for soccer moms.” (One Village Voice writer compared the band to “Journey and Huey Lewis and the News and any other prosaically sexy squad of hit makers who decide it’s their calling to entertain arenas full of potential Survivor contestants.”)

And this is where the group shares something with its home, for like Los Angeles, Maroon 5 is regularly mischaracterized as being all surface and no depth — a pretty face without a soul, to put it another way. Sure, the band’s music is sleek and catchy, but in a musical echo of LA’s behind-the-scenes diversity, it’s also full of weird chord progressions and dark lyrics about romantic disillusionment. And Levine and his bandmates — who are fans of everything from Thelonious Monk to Michael Jackson to Alice in Chains — can really play.

“They taught me in an instant what it means to be a real musician,” says Jason Segel, the Forgetting Sarah Marshall star who joined Maroon 5 onstage at shows in New York and Las Vegas last year. (Hit up You- Tube for the hilarious results.) “Any one of them is better than I am at any instrument you could present. Some people are born to do specific things, and each of these guys is meant to be a musician.”

Producer Mike Elizondo was more than impressed with Levine’s musical chops when they worked together on It Won’t Be Soon Before Long. He says Levine’s pretty-boy appearance has done him a disservice when it comes to winning respect.

“Because he’s the lead man and he’s obviously a good-looking guy, Adam can sort of be underestimated,” he says. “But the fact is that he’s an incredible musician with a great voice who writes amazing pop songs with melodies that stick with you.”

For his part, Levine says he tries not to sweat the credibility issue. “I do think it’s important to be taken seriously,” he allows. “But at the same time, you can’t jump through hoops for that kind of stuff. And at the end of the day you can’t take yourself too seriously. The more I learn about people and about our career and about life in general, I’ve realized that the less seriously you take yourself, the more seriously you’ll be taken.”

“And the happier you’ll be,” Carmichael adds.

“You just have to be who you are and hope that people like it,” Levine continues. “And if they don’t, then screw ’em.”

Levine’s devotion to LA is evident as soon as you enter his house. Framed Los Angeles Lakers jerseys share space on the wall with blown-up photographs of the singer sitting courtside at the Staples Center with Jonah Hill and Jack Nicholson. And when Levine saunters into his kitchen wearing a white sleeveless T-shirt, you can’t help but notice the large tattoo that occupies some prime real estate on his right shoulder: Los Angeles rendered in inky cursive script.

“I’m very romantic about my city,” Levine says. “I love what California stands for — being progressive and sort of thinking ahead. Californians are a very different kind of people, I think.” He singles out the dependably beautiful weather — “this amazing bubble of warmth,” per his description — as one of the place’s charms, while Carmichael, a surfer, points to the ocean. “It’s a great driving town too,” Levine adds, offering Mulholland and motorcycles as a match made in heaven.

“I’ve just always really loved it here and thought that I’d live here forever,” the singer continues. “I’ve never had any desire to live anywhere else.”

Despite their deep hometown pride, Levine and his bandmates felt they needed a change of scenery when it came time to start recording Hands All Over. The decision was made not just for the sake of inspiration but for the sake of efficiency. “We made the previous record here over the course of a year,” Levine says, “and I know that with all the distractions of home, this new one would have taken us two years if we’d stayed in LA.”

So instead they flew to Switzerland, setting up shop at producer Robert “Mutt” Lange’s studio on Lake Geneva. (“There wasn’t much to do there except enjoy the pretty scenery and jump in the lake,” Levine says. “It was awesome.”) Lange is the legendary (and legendarily reclusive) sonic architect behind such megaselling blockbusters as AC/DC’s Back in Black, Def Leppard’s Pyromania and Come on Over by Lange’s ex-wife, Shania Twain — records that make Maroon 5’s albums look like underground sensations by comparison.

“He thinks our success is cute,” Levine says with a laugh, “because it’s such a fraction of what he’s achieved. His pitch was, like, ‘You guys have sold some records and you’ve done pretty well.’ But that was what was so great about working with him: feeling like we had a lot left to prove.”

Carmichael says Lange pushed the band to improve and tighten its songwriting — “to make things better and to not just settle on the first try.”

“He pushes you, but he also really supports you,” Levine says. “He wants you to be inspired and he wants you to do it your way, but he also knows how to get the right results out of people — the right performances and the right songs and the right sentiments behind the songs.”

“It wasn’t just about doing things that were really hooky,” Carmichael says. “He wanted emotion. It’s all about connection for him. He thinks about connection on a lot of different levels; sometimes it’s lyrically, but most of the time he thinks about it sonically. What’s going to grab somebody’s ear in whatever country they’re in, whatever language they speak, and instantly connect with them?”

The result is the band’s most immediate-sounding effort yet, with airbrushed electro-arena guitars in the title track “Hands All Over” (think Def Leppard’s “Pour Some Sugar on Me”) and superthick harmony vocals in “Never Gonna Leave.” There’s one song called “Misery,” but it rides a bouncy bass groove and features a sunny Jackson 5–like melody. “Mutt and his engineer tweak every little tiny nook-and-cranny sound, so that you hear things popping out at you that you never thought you could hear,” Levine says. “It’s very overwhelming — you can’t ignore it.” Adds Carmichael, “We tried to put so much energy into the record that we were just exhausted when we were done recording.”

Levine says Hands All Over is the most Maroon 5-ish record Maroon 5 has made. “We don’t wear our influences on our sleeves on this record, which is cool,” he explains. “It’s exciting when you can’t necessarily put your finger on it. Say what you want about our band, but there’s no one like us. We have our own sound, and I think that’s what made us hard to place in the beginning. That’s what kind of made us weird. Our songs aren’t weird — they’re pop songs. But the context and who we are and what we believe in and how we dress, all that kind of stuff — it’s this weird combination of things.”

In some ways, the band itself is a weird combination of things. As Levine suffers from the aftereffects of his evening of overindulgence, Carmichael munches a salad of homegrown greens fresh from his backyard garden. (The keyboardist planted lettuce before he left for Switzerland and is now enjoying the fruits of his labor. “I reaped what I sowed,” he says. “It’s so true what they say!”) Valentine, meanwhile, once played guitar with ska-punk goofballs Reel Big Fish and these days pals around with brainy indie-rock types such as Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley.

All of those differences notwithstanding, Levine and Carmichael agree that the relationships among the band’s members have never been deeper. Carmichael compares the situation to a marriage, which sets Levine off and running. “If I could feel about a woman the way I feel about my band, I’d probably be married. That’s probably why I can’t hold a relationship — because I’m married to my band,” he says, laughing. “We all know that no matter what arguments we get into, or whatever creative disputes we have, we’re not going to break up over something like that. Once you get over the hump of 10 or 12 years, it becomes worth it to work through it.”

“We spend so much time on the road together that you have to think of it like a relationship,” Carmichael says. “That way, all this doesn’t feel like it’s impinging on our life. It is our life.”

Of course, there are still those other lives that do exist back at home — the ones with girlfriends and parents and siblings and dogs. And how do the musicians’ circumstances affect those?

“Negatively,” Carmichael admits with a laugh.

“There’s not a person on the planet who’s okay with it,” Levine says. “ ‘I love you, I’ll see you in a year.’ It stunts your growth, being in a band that works all the time.” He shakes his head. “Then again, I don’t know if I’d want to have a conventional life; I’d probably be bored.”

He thinks for a bit and then gives a little sigh. “I wouldn’t say it’s been difficult; it’s just been different. Sometimes the thing that you love is also the thing that you hate, you know? But 90 percent of the time, I’m like, ‘Thank God I do this, because I wouldn’t know what to do otherwise.’ ”

4 comentarios:

D i e go dijo...

Buenisima la entrevista, son musicos geniales..Espero que no se me hagan muy largos estos dos meses porque ya no aguanto a que salga el nuevo cd..Gracias por el blog es genial, tiene informacion muy buena. Sigan asi!

Pequee. dijo...

Gracias Diego!
La verdad yo tampoco puedo esperar 2 meses! me mata la ansiedad jaja!

Joha dijo...

Gracias por el comentario. Si, la verdad que ya la espera se esta haciendo larga :S Pero ya los vamos a tener de vuelta aca. El libro no es mio, de hecho es de mi amigo (Diego, el mismo que firmo aca) y lo compro por internet y le salio $100 la verdad que los vale porque es buenisimo!!

Un beso y el blog es genial!!

Brittany dijo...

Nice interview! I wonder when they will be performing in Argentina. They have so many fans there. Last year when I travelled to that country, I had rented one of those buenos aires apartments and my neighbor said she was a fan and was crazy about then.
I whish they went to BA so she would be happy!