High School Music
The band began life as Kara’s Flowers, a high-school four-piece consisting of Adam Levine, Jesse Carmichael, Mickey Madden, and Ryan Dusick. They signed with Reprise Records (which is no small feat) on the strength of their independently released album, ‘We Like Digging?’. Under their new label they released 1997’s ‘The Fourth World’ to little fanfare. And while they ultimately parted ways with Reprise, it’s astounding all of this was accomplished before they had even been to college, which is where they went next.
The Wonder Years
Levine and Carmichael exchanged LA for NY, enrolling at the State University of New York. Their musical journey continued despite the nation-sized divide between them and the rest of their band members. In fact, some could argue the missing piece in the Maroon 5 puzzle (excluding the elusive fifth member who would show up shortly) is Levine’s delivery. What was a tempered pop vocal in Kara’s Flowers took on a more soulful cadence. Turns out the New York boys were getting into soul and R&B, with Levine gravitating towards the vocal stylings of Stevie Wonder.
He's Their Valentine
Jason Merritt/Getty Images
Before the band became 2000s hit machines, a couple of personnel changes were required. Jesse Carmichael traded his guitar for the keyboards, leaving a position open for James Valentine – the Eagle Scout and Mormon who counts John Mayer as a longtime friend (the pair having met at Boston’s Berklee College of Music in 1996.)
With A Little JJAMZ On The Side
When he’s not playing with Levine and co., Valentine plays with these guys – Jason Boesel (Rilo Kiley/Conor Oberst), Alex Greenwald (Phantom Planet), Michael Runion (solo), and Z Berg (The Like) -- collectively known as JJAMZ. What started out as karaoke hijinx became an opportunity for each band member to tread down a different path than the ones their daytime bands were taking them down. They have released one album, ‘Suicide Pact’, in 2012.
1 Album. 2 Live Recordings.
In 2002, the band, clearly confident that their best sound could be heard on stage and not in a studio, followed up their successful debut disc 'Songs About Jane' with not one but two live releases, '1.22.03.Acoustic' (2004) and 'Live – Friday the 13th' (2005). The former – an acoustic EP – features two covers: The Beatles’ “If I Fell” and AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell”. Apparently they were going for covers that rhymed. 'Live – Friday the 13th' was a CD/DVD release and features a cover of Oasis’ “Hello” and Bill Withers’ “Ain’t No Sunshine”.
Du Make Me Sick
Original drummer Ryan Dusick left the band officially in 2006 after sitting out two years of touring due to injuries to his wrists and shoulders sustained from constant touring. His replacement, Matt Flynn, who had already been touring with the band in Dusick’s absence, joined the band full-time.
'Jagger' Gives Them Satisfaction
The band released their third album in 2010, 'Hands All Over', an effort that hardly set the charts alight. Enter: “Moves Like Jagger” and its guest, Christina Aguilera. The earworm squirmed its way to the top of the charts in 2011, prompting the band’s record label to re-release 'Hands All Over' with “Moves Like Jagger” tacked on. Sidenote: The album was produced by Shania Twain’s former husband and songwriting partner, Robert “Mutt” Lange, who divorced Twain in June 2010, just a few months before the album was released.
She's Got It Covered
The album cover for 'Hands All Over' is a photograph taken by its star, Rosie Hardy, of Buxton, UK. The 19-year-old photographer took it in her bedroom in under an hour. With the album complete but no cover, Maroon 5’s management took to the internet, punching “hands all over” into the search field. They eventually landed on an early version of the photo used on Hardy’s Flickr page.
Maroon 5 Become The Maroon 7
Courtesy James Valentine/Instagram
Following the announcement that keyboardist Jesse Carmichael was taking a break from the group to focus on “music and the healing arts” in 2012, keyboardist and R&B singer PJ Morton filled in for him, eventually becoming a full-time member of the band and contributing to the band’s fourth studio album, 'Overexposed'. That same year, Phantom Planet bassist Sam Farrar a long-time collaborator with the band, joined them on tour as a sort of utilities man, adept at any number of instruments and effects. Farrar would become an official member in 2016. The Maroon 5 tour bus would be bursting at the seams.
Be Our Guests
Before the release of their anticipated sixth studio album, 'Red Pill Blues', the band released two standalone singles: “Don’t Wanna Know” and “Cold”. Each featured an American rapper, Kendrick Lamar and Future, respectively. Though the songs would show up on the deluxe version of the album, its lead single wouldn’t be released until August 2017: “What Lovers Do”, featuring R&B’s SZA. Another rapper, ASAP Rocky, would show up on album track “Whiskey”. Sidenote: Levine and Lamar had worked together previously when the Maroon 5 singer hosted “Saturday Night Live” and appeared in a Lonely Island short alongside the rapper.
Making A Big Production Out Of It
John Ryan, Noah Passavoy, OzGo, Phil Paul, Sam Farrar, Jason Evigan, J Kash (exec. prod.), Julien Bunetta, Afterhrs, Ben Billions, Charlie Puth, Diplo, Ricky Reed, Cirkut, TMS, Benny Blanco, The Arcade, Blueprint, Louie Lastic, Ryan Ogren, and Nick Bailey. What do these names have in common? They were all producers on 'Red Pill Blues'.