It's been a four-year wait for a new Maroon 5 album - "Hands All Over," produced by the legendary Robert John "Mutt" Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, The Cars) drops Sept. 21. But you don't have to wait till then to hear singer Adam Levine's distinctive voice on new tracks, as the L.A. band performs Thursday night at downtown Miami's Bayfront Park. Of course, Maroon 5 will serve up all the hits as well, including "This Love," "Harder to Breathe," "She Will Be Loved" and "Makes Me Wonder." Guitarist James Valentine talked to Miami.com about the show.
So tell us about the new album - what do you think of it?
Well, this is usually what happens - I think it's our best record so far [laughs]. I think we've learned some stuff from the experience of making all those different records, so we're just honing that craft. And certainly having Mutt Lange's help didn't hurt.
How much of a difference did he make, and how did he help you?
More than anything, his attitude of just making sure that every single part was the best it could be. Every instrumental hook, every line, every melody really had to meet some high expectations, and he's got patience to allow the time and space for that to happen, so that was really important.
So he actually had you guys rewrite some guitar riffs or melodies, kind of like George Martin did for The Beatles?
Yes. There were a lot of demos we brought in where he was like, "OK, that's cool, but ... OK, the beat's cool, so let's start from there and see what else we can do with that beat [laughs]. With the title track, "Hands All Over" - that was originally just this weird keyboard sample. It's hard to describe, but it was this little, four-second loop, and he was like, "That's amazing - we need to do something with that." And then we'd start building the song over that, and tearing it down as we built it, trying more and more ideas.
Is the new material more upbeat?
Stylistically, it's still within the Maroon 5 universe that you'd be familiar with from "Songs About Jane" or "It Won't Be Soon Before Long." With that one, we were branching out and trying on some different styles, and I don't think everything totally worked, so I think we came out of that experience honing in closer on sort of what the Maroon 5 sound is. It's a pretty upbeat record - there's not a lot of the slower moments. I think that might be from us just knowing that it's more fun to go out and play more upbeat songs on the road.
Will we hear most of the new album at the show?
No. We've sort of held back - you'll probably hear three or four of the new songs. We're sort of waiting for the record to come out, on Sept. 21. It's kind of weird to go out and play new songs for people. You never know what the reaction's gonna be. Songs that have gone on to become huge hits for us, the first time we played them in front of people, we got a lukewarm response amid songs like "This Love" or "Sunday Morning" that they've known and loved for years.
A couple years ago in Miami, I think the day after you opened for The Police, you played a really cool, intimate show at Studio A downtown, where you took requests and it was very informal. Do you have more fun doing stuff like that, or playing in front of thousands of people?
Those smaller gigs are a lot of fun, especially something as off-the-cuff as that was. But right now we're having a lot of fun, because we spent a lot of time rehearsing versions of this new set. I think we've spent more time in rehearsal than we ever have, and it's been paying off on the tour so far, because the shows have been really exciting, really dynamic. While playing in clubs is fun, because you're up closer and it's more impromptu, there's nothing like the feeling of getting thousands of people united, just getting all that energy together.
Adam has been quoted as saying Maroon 5's days might be numbered after one more album. Care to comment on that?
I don't know - that was something that he said. But I think the longer we're at this, the more we realize how much we love doing this. Ten years ago when we started touring, it was hard to imagine wanting to do that for the rest of our lives. It's pretty exhausing, but then you realize you never get sick of this. That's what I've come to understand about a lot of those bands that are still doing this, like the Stones - it's like, "Why would you still wanna go out on the road? Just retire and enjoy your life at home. But you realize that that part of you that likes to be onstage in front of thousands of people doesn't just die. So I don't know - we might be at it longer than that. I think Maroon 5 will probably always exist, no matter who is a part of it. Maybe not everybody as a band will be able to handle it, but I think everybody's in this for the long haul.
What do you think of Miami?
We love Miami. I had a great time in Miami celebrating my 30th birthday, and I flew in my best friends from growing up in Nebraska. We had an incredible South Beach weekend. We really love it, and it's definitely one of the highlight cities on the tour. I just love being on the strip there and being able to walk down to the beach - those beaches are so beautiful. It's a great city.
Adam Levine (left) and James Valentine of Maroon 5.