It’s understandable that Adam Levine would admit to “going a little mad” as Maroon 5 embarked on the follow-up to their multiplatinum, Grammy-winning Songs About Jane.
“It’s one thing making a record, but it’s another thing making a record when you’ve had all this success and there’s all this pressure, and you say you don’t feel it and pretend you don’t, and then one day you wake up and it knocks you in your face,” the singer said.
Levine responded to the pressure by, well, partying.
“I worked my ass off for four years, and I thought, ‘I’m going to eat cheeseburgers every day and play poker and go out and have drinks and enjoy myself a little,’ ” he recalled of his days living at Hollywood hotel Chateau Marmont. “And I did that, and that gets old quickly. Then you get up and realize it’s time to start getting serious. You learn how to cook and start inviting friends over. I thought, ‘OK, let’s grow up and focus on making this record amazing.’ ”
In the end, Maroon 5 made an album Levine is “genuinely thrilled” about called It Won’t Be Soon Before Long (see “Maroon 5 Won’t Feature ’800 Guest Stars’ On Next LP” ). It’s due May 22, around the time the band will be hitting the road for another four years. (OK, maybe not four this time.)
“It’s been a trying process,” Levine said. “We wanted to kill each other at times, hug each other at other times. It’s a very different record. It still sounds like us. My voice is very identifiable. That’s the common thread. But the beats are different, more angular, straightforward, not as smoothed out and bouncy. A little harder.”
The Best New Artist Grammy winners worked in their Los Angeles home with four different producers on the album — Mike Elizondo, Mark “Spike” Stent, Mark Endert and Eric Valentine — whose collective résumés feature artists ranging from Eminem to Fiona Apple to Queens of the Stone Age to Keane to Madonna.
“It brought diversity,” Levine said. “All the people who contributed did amazing things, and without any one of them, it wouldn’t have been as balanced. Having different perspectives is so important because you get holed up and you get cabin fever, and sometimes you need someone from the outside to come in and do something that otherwise is so obvious.”
Founding Maroon 5 member Ryan Dusick worked as musical director but bowed out as the band’s drummer due to joint and nerve injuries he sustained over the years of touring (see “Maroon 5 Book Goes Backstage At Jane Tours, Addresses Drummer’s Health Struggles” ). Matt Flynn, who filled in for Dusick on the road, took over.
“Unfortunately, Ryan, as much as we love him and as painful and horrendous as it was having to part ways with someone who was a co-founder of the band, he couldn’t play anymore — at least not to the ability that he once could,” Levine said. “We’ve spent every day since then thinking about it and trying to repair our relationship so that everyone’s happy. There is no bad blood, and everything is copasetic. We contemplated everything, but at the end of the day, it didn’t work.”
The album’s title comes from a mantra the band adopted early on in the recording process.
“It’s kind of a more eloquent version of ‘Hurry up and wait,’ ” Levine explained. “Ringo [Starr] had these Ringo-isms in the Beatles where he would say something that didn’t make sense, but if you thought about it in more abstract terms, it makes perfect sense. It’s one of those. I think it fits everything that’s happened in our career. And it helped us become more patient. And it’s easy to get ahead of yourself in a band. I get an idea and I want it to happen right away.”
The album’s first single is called “Makes Me Wonder” and should hit radio airwaves in a few weeks.
“The lyrics are a really bizarre hybrid of me being in a failing relationship at the time combined with a new element of my failure to understand or trust what’s going on with the leadership of our country,” Levine said. “I never set out to write a preachy song, which is why it’s disguised as a love song. And it is a love song. Thematically, it actually made sense to include both of those.”
And is there still pressure?
“I really think [the album] will be big, but it’s not my life,” Levine said. “If not, I’ll paint houses.”