Maroon 5's Adam Levine never thought he'd be talking about a topic like nuclear proliferation, because, well, he's the lead singer of a world-famous rock band. Discussing the finer points of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty wasn't exactly on the job description.
And yet, when he was approached by the folks behind "Countdown to Zero" — the harrowing new documentary from the producers of "An Inconvenient Truth" that investigates the perilous state of global politics and the spread of nuclear weapons — about helping promote the film, he said yes.
"It's one of those issues where it's really easy to establish a stance on," Levine said. "It's more of a human issue, and it makes no sense whatsoever to me. I mean, I'm pretty certain it was a terrible idea to invent nuclear weapons in the first place."
So along with M5 bassist Mickey Madden, Levine shot a PSA that urges people to read — and, hopefully, sign — an anti-nuclear weapons petition co-sponsored by Take Part, an online community aimed at engaging members with social issues (find it here). The petition asks the U.S. Senate to ratify the recently-signed START agreement, which will remove a significant number of nuclear weapons from the arsenals of both the U.S. and Russia. And, in doing so, it may be the first step towards accomplishing what the "Countdown to Zero" film dares to ask: Why does any country need nuclear weapons in this day and age?
"The best way to do things with a delicate issue like this is just to present the facts, and that's what this film does," Levine said. "There are 'X' amount of weapons, and 'Y' amount of people have died because of them, and, oh, by the way, 'Z' amount of those nuclear weapons have gone missing over the years. To me, that was the most staggering stat. I mean, these are not cherry bombs! So while I'm not going to get on the soapbox, I do think that most people will admit that missing nuclear weapons is a bad thing — so why bother having them at all?"
And though he sounds like a well-trained expert now, things didn't quite go as smoothly in the Take Part PSA — which, by the way, is making its world premiere right here — as you can probably tell from the end result. Because unlike some other musicians who lent a hand (a list that includes Pearl Jam, Trent Reznor, R.E.M., Tom Morello and OK Go), Levine is still getting the hang of this whole "spokesperson" thing.
"Oh man, when we shot [the PSA], it was early and I wasn't really good at reading scripts, so I cursed a lot," he laughed.
"Countdown to Zero" opens in theaters nationwide on Friday (July 30).