The Mosaic Interview: Maroon 5
Keyboardist Carmichael talks about band’s future plans
Published: Monday, November 16, 2009
Updated: Tuesday, November 17, 2009 04:11
Maroon 5 visited the university last night and performed a sold-out concert to thousands of fans at the Bob Carpenter Center. The event was the Student Centers Program Advisory Board's fall concert.
The band, whose first major record debuted in 2002, features lead vocalist Adam Levine, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael, lead guitarist James Valentine, drummer Matt Flynn and bass guitarist Mickey Madden. The band followed up its platinum first album, Songs About Jane, with It Won't Be Soon Before Long in 2007. Hit singles from the album include "Makes Me Wonder" and "Wake Up Call." The band is currently working on their new album, which will be released early next year.
Popular worldwide, Maroon 5 has been touring college campuses across the United States as part of their Back to School Tour. On Friday, Carmichael spoke on the phone with The Review about the band's upcoming album, musical inspiration and friendship over the years.
Obviously, you are the keyboardist for the band, but you used to play the guitar. Do you still play guitar sometimes?
Yes, I still play the guitar sometimes. More so now than in the past because we just added a member to our band — a guy named Tommy King. He's singing with us so that frees me up a bit. Depending on the show, I may still play the guitar but mostly I play the keyboard. I just play in the songs whatever is needed.
What would you say is your favorite song that you guys play?
You know with anything like that, my favorite song just changes from night to night. Even just moment to moment depending on what kind of mood I'm in.
The band was previously called Kara's Flowers, but where did the name Maroon 5 come from?
Have you ever heard the story about how we don't tell anybody the story about where the band name came from? It is a true story. We took a sacred oath to never share the origins of the band name with anybody. And the only time that's been broken was when Adam got drunk and told Billy Joel — true story. But I'm not about to make that mistake. I'm not drunk and you're not Billy Joel.
The band is coming out with an album in 2010. Is that still in the works?
Of course it is. We are going to get it out as soon as possible. We are going to finish it as soon as this tour is over. We go back to Switzerland where we have been recording all summer and put the finishing touches on it. And it should be out in April or May of next year. We have not decided on a title yet. We'll let you know as soon as we know.
The rumors say that you guys might break up after the album comes out next year. Is this a possibility?
Yeah, I think Adam started that rumor and it could be true, could not be true. There's no way to know because it's in the future and we don't know anything about the future. That's my take on it.
How did you come to pick Fitz & the Tantrums to tour with?
We didn't know them personally, but Adam had gotten a hold of their CD and he was a big fan. All of a sudden we found out that they were available to tour. So we asked them to come out.
Do you help write lyrics for the songs at all? Or is that mostly Adam?
Adam has written all the lyrics to all our songs so far. Every once in a while we give him a note or two about changing something, but they all come from his imagination, which is fast.
Your first album Songs About Jane was inspired by Adam's experiences with a past girlfriend. Where does your musical inspiration come from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere. You know, it could be just something you see on a street or on the news or in a newspaper or in a movie or in a book or, you know, live. It could be something good or something bad. It could be a band that we love that inspires us to write a certain type of song. Or it could be a band that we hate that inspires us to make sure we don't make a song like that. Just comes from anywhere. It's a total mystery, I think — where these things come from.
What has been your inspiration for the new album?
Well, you know, for a while now we've just been through following the idea that you just have to write stuff that comes to you naturally. The last couple albums have just been writing whatever comes to us in the moment. I don't know where it comes from specifically. I think the album is a good reflection of where we are in life. You know like thousands of little markers of what's going on in our lives at this period.
The band has had some changes in members over the years. You and Adam started the band way back in junior high school. Are all of you very tight friends in the group?
Adam, Nicky and I have been together since we were 12. We are all tighter friends than we've ever been before and we keep getting closer, which is great. A lot of bands actually tell us how jealous they are of the fact that we are so functional. Sometimes, I think the norm for bands is to have a lot of issues, but we're lucky to be feeling just like family.
The university campus is very excited to have you perform at the Bob Carpenter Center on Monday night.
These are the best shows that we've ever put on, so I'm really excited for everybody to come out and see us. We're all very happy with how we sound and we've had an amazing time on these shows so far. So we're really looking forward to coming out there on Monday.