Maroon 5 Brings Hits And New Music To Fraze
By Alan Sculley
No one would suggest that Maroon 5 hasn’t had a good run since releasing its debut CD, Songs About Jane,
But one thing that, in at least one important way, hasn’t been easy for the band has been its live shows. It’s not a question of the group’s playing skills or ability to engage a live audience. It’s been another basic issue, and now that it is resolved, guitarist James Valentine says Maroon 5 is especially happy to be touring.
“When we toured the first time around, when our first record was out, we were on the road for nearly four years off of one album, which was really challenging, which is why we had all these bizarre covers,” Valentine said in a recent phone interview. “We kind of got a reputation for these sort of out-there covers that we did. But it was just because of a lack of material. Now with the three records, it’s really great because we do have a lot more choices. So in rehearsals, we’ve been going through some of the older songs, getting them ready, so we can vary the show from night to night, which we really couldn’t do as much before. It’s great because we can put together a set with songs that people really love.”
The third CD Valentine mentions is Hands All Over, and it arrives in stores Tuesday, September 21. It follows the 2007 CD, It Won’t Be Soon Before Long and Songs About Jane, two previous albums that between them have sold more than 15 million copies and generated a string of radio hits including “This Love,” “Harder To Breathe,” “Sunday Morning” and “Makes Me Wonder.”
The band, which also includes singer Adam Levine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, bassist Mickey Madden and drummer Matt Flynn, wrote most of the music for the CD in its home base of Los Angeles.
Then the group traveled to Vevey, Switzerland near the majestic Swiss Alps to record the CD with famed producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange, who first rose to fame as producer of elaborately produced Def Leppard CDs such as Pyromania and Hysteria – two of the band’s best selling albums.
Those CDs showed that Lange could be meticulous in assembling tracks, and while Hands All Over came together in four months – far more quickly than the aforementioned Def Leppard albums – Lange was actively involved in reshaping songs on the CD.
“He was definitely pretty critical,” Valentine said of Lange. “If you look at the records he’s done, he’s interested in crafting songs to reach a very wide audience, a very huge audience. That’s a particular craft that he’s perfected. So yeah, if something was not up to his standards, it would be tossed aside and reworked. That was really great. I don’t know, we’ve certainly worked with great producers who have had great ideas, but I don’t know that we’ve ever thrown as many ideas away until we were totally killing it (as on this CD).”
Valentine said some songs were written quickly for Hands All Over, while others, including the first single, “Misery,” were quite a struggle. This was not a new phenomenon for Maroon 5.
“It kind of feels like the most popular songs or the most well received songs that we make come out of the most struggle,” Valentine said. “You would think it would be the other way. I always hear of songwriters talking about how that one came out so easy. But like that was the case with ‘This Love.’ That was the case with ‘Makes Me Wonder.’ And on this record, ‘Misery,’ we had this idea for a chord that was great, and for over the course of months, the whole time we were there in Switzerland, we were trying to come up with the right verse and bridge and connect it all together…At certain points, it was like man, this song is not even going to make the record.”
“Misery” is something of a prototypical Maroon 5 song. Propelled by a bouncy beat, it is a danceable upbeat pop/soul rocker with the kind of stick-in-your-head chorus that made songs like “This Love” and “Harder To Breathe” irresistible confections. “Don’t Know Much” follows a similar path, although it’s a bit more
Other songs, though, find Maroon 5 expanding its musical reach. The title track is one of the harder rocking songs the band has recorded.
Another stylistic twist comes with the song “Out Of Goodbyes,” a country-ish ballad that features contributions from the popular country band Lady Antebellum.
“We didn’t consciously sit down to try to write a country song, but we had these chords, and Adam sang these lyrics over it, and then we decided it would be nice to have like a female call-and-response sort of thing,” Valentine said. “Then we were lucky enough to have Lady Antebellum put their thing on it.”
Maroon 5 will perform Tuesday, August 31 at 7 p.m. at the Fraze Pavilion, 695 Lincoln Park Blvd., Kettering. Kris Allen, V.V. Brown and Miggs are also on the bill. Tickets are $55 (orchestra) and $40 (lawn/terrace). Tickets can be purchased at the Fraze ticket office, all Ticketmaster outlets, by phone at 1-800-745-3000 or online at
www.Ticketmaster.com. For additional information, visit www.Fraze.com
Reach DCP freelance writer Alan Sculley at firstname.lastname@example.org