Adam Levine has a driving range in his front yard, though it’s unclear how often he gets to use it. The 35-year-old frontman of L.A.’s Maroon 5 was at home in Encino recently preparing for a weekend jam-packed with promotion for the band’s new album, not to mention final rehearsals for a performance on MTV’s Video Music Awards. And after that? Meetings related to Levine’s other job as a coach on NBC’s “The Voice,” which begins its seventh season on Sept. 22. His golf swing, in other words, would have to wait.
Maroon 5’s fifth studio disc, “V,” due Tuesday, follows 2012’s “Overexposed,” which sold more than 1 million copies and spawned four top 10 singles. Those are impressive statistics for any act, but for Maroon 5 they’re also a validation of its decision — unusual for an ostensible rock band — to recruit some of pop’s highest-profile songwriters and producers.
For the first time in Maroon 5’s history, you collaborated with Top 40 wizards like Max Martin and Benny Blanco on “Overexposed.” They’re back for “V.”
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Honestly, it’s a huge relief for me, because for a long time it felt like making an album was this daunting task, and I had to be at the center of it. It wasn’t fun anymore.
Because you were trying to do it all?
I was trying to control it all. But if you want to be a band that’s going to be around for 20 or 30 years, you’re going to have to change what you do at some point. We developed a really nice system on the last record — we found songs we were passionate about, developed them and put our stamp on them — and I think we all started to enjoy ourselves in the studio. This time we kept it going but looked for different types of songs.
And from some different songwriters. “Sugar” was co-written by Dr. Luke, who’s known for huge hits by Katy Perry and Britney Spears.
The second I heard that song, I was totally blown away. It was a really cool opportunity to go in a direction that I’ve always wanted to go in — kind of bridging the gap between things that I love about soul and funk and Prince but also very poppy. I’d never been able to quite master that idea.
His approach suggests that although strong songwriting is timeless, the way it’s delivered evolves with taste. It says that great rock bands adapt.
Every single one of them. [In the '60s and '70s] it was all about capturing the feeling of the live performance on a record. That’s not the way it is right now. Even the most organic songs on the radio, there are no drum fills, because they’re trying to create the consistency of an electronic beat.
As slick as the songs are on “V,” many of them still have really biting lyrics about soured relationships.
To me there’s something so sickly sweet about so much pop; it has to be subverted in some way. I hesitate to use the word “edge,” because it’s not like there’s anything edgy about Maroon 5. But if I don’t add my personal edge to it, it tends to get very soft. Max Martin, Benny Blanco, Ryan Tedder — those guys’ No. 1 priority is: What’s gonna hit? My No. 1 priority is: How is it gonna hit? And my No. 2 priority is the same as theirs.
“The Voice” will start airing again soon. Is the show still fun for you?
It’s really fun. I was working with somebody yesterday who’s making a guest appearance — I’m not supposed to say who — and they were saying that being on the show made them realize they actually had stories to share that could help people along in their careers. I don’t think you stop to realize you have this wealth of experience until you’re forced to. Granted, the money I get paid to do it is amazing. I’d be lying if I said that weren’t a big part of it. But it’s not the biggest part.
Did you think the show would last as long as it has?
No. I thought it’d be a risk and a paycheck.
When you’re assessing these projects — TV stuff, your Kmart clothing line, your collection of Adam Levine fragrances — how do you decide what’s a smart move?
Can I control this? There’s not a single one of my contracts that doesn’t have full creative control, because if you lose creative control over things like that then you’re in big trouble. Listen, the fragrance? Not very successful — didn’t do what we wanted it to do. But do I think it smells good? Do I think it was designed well? Do I stand by what I did creatively? One hundred percent.
Does that go for the commercial you did for the acne treatment Proactiv?
I had horrible cystic acne all over my face when I was 14 years old. If I was one of these people who’ve done [a Proactiv commercial] who’d never had a zit in their life — where they had to paint one on their face — I wouldn’t have done it. It wouldn’t have made any sense.
Adam Levine Doesn’t Care If You Like Him (But He’d Really Prefer That You Did)
You might know Adam Levine Or his band, Maroon 5, singers of the catchiest white-people music of our time. Or maybe you’ve seen him on The Voice, where he is the unrepentantly bro-y coach with the groomed stubble. Maybe you even own some music—chances seem good, since people have downloaded more Maroon 5 songs than songs by Justin Timberlake or Jay Z. Chances are also good that you find him strangely uncool. Because, well, there’s just something about him, and he knows it
*Adam Levine wrote this headline. See what we mean about being self-aware?
“Okay. Let’s get into this: What are the characteristics of a douchebag?” says Adam Levine, pushing aside the remains of his egg-white omelet. We’re sitting at Blu Jam, a diner near where he lives in the nondescript Los Angeles suburbs. We’ve been discussing his role in Begin Again, the new movie musical in which he plays a character kinda like Adam Levine: a talented, ambitious indie musician who, after achieving mainstream success, starts acting a little bit like a, well…you know. “Let’s define this,” says Levine, turning on that twinkly-eyed smile, the one that has brought many a groupie to her knees. At 35, Levine’s face is still boyish, the biceps peeking out of his red Hawaiian shirt formidably toned. Later someone will post a sneaky cell-phone photo of this exact moment on Twitter, and a fan will comment: “Damnnn.”
“A douchebag is a really specific thing,” he says. “Okay?”
The waiter comes over.
“We’re talking about douchebags,” Levine tells him.
“Oh, okay,” the waiter says. “That’s a long conversation.”
“No shit!” Levine says. “I just said the same thing.”
Adam Levine is one of the biggest pop stars in the country, if not the world. Along with his band, Maroon 5, he’s responsible for some of the most ubiquitous earworms of the past decade, songs like “This Love” and “Moves Like Jagger,” one of which you’re probably humming right now just by virtue of having read the words. His enthusiastic coaching of aspiring singers on The Voice has made Levine a household name. He has his own microphone-shaped fragrance and a clothing line at Kmart selling faster than you can say “Coachella-inspired,” and he has deployed his considerable personality to sell acne medication, smartphones, and of course, his own music. In 2012, 5 million people downloaded Maroon 5’s “Payphone,” a fact that is especially impressive when you consider most of them probably don’t even know what a pay phone is.
Tinseltown is filled with plenty of good looking men, but there is only one lucky guy that gets to take home the title of Sexiest Man Alive for the year 2013.
Decided on by People magazine, this year’s chosen man goes to none other than Maroon 5 front man, Adam Levine!
“As a musician, you have fantasies that you want to win Grammys, but I didn’t really think that this was on the table,” the singer tells People in this week’s cover story. “I was just
amazed and stunned and it almost seemed like they were kidding, but they weren’t, so that’s cool.”
But before all you ladies out there get too excited about the announcement, keep in mind that Levine is almost off the market as he just got engaged this year to Victoria’s Secret stunner, Behati Prinsloo.
“I didn’t think marriage was for me for a long time,” the 34-year-old dished about his soon-to-be nuptials. “I was ready when I was ready. That’s about as simple as it could possibly be.”
The Voice Season 5
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