GX: What was it like for you and the rest of the band when Songs About Jane (J Records, 2002) blew up in 2004?

M5:  You know, it never really felt like overnight success, as most people saw it. It was always just a steady progression, so when it came, it was all the sweeter for us. We definitely celebrated without letting it get to our heads. 

GX: How did you stay upbeat when you were just another struggling L.A. band?   

M5: It’s hard to stay positive in this business, but we’ve consistently been one of the more driven bands, and that always brings success. Once the ball started rolling, it seemed like every week brought better news. Our record went platinum on the day of the band’s ten-year anniversary, so that was a big sign that our perseverance had been worth it.

GX: When did you finally feel like you had “made it”?

M5: Being the musical guest on Saturday Night Live (in May 2007) was the big milestone for me. I grew up watching that show, and I’d always dreamed about being on it. There were so many other moments that were huge for us too, like going platinum, winning two Grammys, and our first arena tour we did with John Mayer. Those are all pretty high up there.

GX: Not bad! What about opening for The Police and The Stones?

M5: Oh my God! Those moments were surreal. We really didn’t think it got much better than opening for The Rolling Stones, but then we got the call about The Police, who are easily one of our biggest influences. When we met Sting and the rest of the band, it was over! Those were probably my favorite shows to date.  

“People in the industry always come up to us after shows and are wowed by our performance. I really don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted by that.”


GX: Describe a Maroon 5 show.

M5: People tend to be surprised at our live shows. Because we’ve had such commercial success with MTV and radio play, I think people assume that we aren’t legitimate musicians. People in the industry always come up to us after shows and are wowed by our performance. I really don’t know whether to be flattered or insulted by that (laughing).

GX: Is the Live Friday The 13th CD/DVD (J Records, 2005) an accurate snapshot of your shows?

M5: Somewhat. You know, I really felt that that recording came out a bit too clean. In that sense, I’m not sure that it fully represented us. Our shows tend to be a lot looser, yet more aggressive, which is really the part of our performance that takes people back. After the first song, you can see the looks on people faces, like, “Whoa, they’re not just a bubbly pop group after all.”

GX: What’s your favorite part about being in Maroon 5?

M5: I know it sounds cliché, but really, it’s the fact that we’re all best friends outside of the band. It’s such a privilege to tour the world with these guys and still have the excitement of little boys in a garage band. There’s nothing that comes close to the feeling of that union.

GX: And do you all have the same taste in music?

M5: Yes and no. Certain music—undeniably good stuff—has obviously influenced [the sound of] Maroon 5, but my taste sometimes branches off from the others. I think that’s what makes it work so nicely, though—the whole “opposites attract” thing.

GX: What are you listening to right now?

M5: Johnny Otis, early My Bloody Valentine, Lil’ Wayne’s Dedication III,

The Police, The Who, and a lot of Motown and hip-hop. My listening really depends on the day and how I feel. I do make an effort to convey my influences into my playing.

GX: And how would you describe your playing?

M5: I try to play simple, rhythmic lines that fall behind the beat. I save melody for special moments in my playing. Most of what I do is a push/pull, back-and-forth with the drums.

GX: Does your onstage approach differ from your studio style?

M5: Yeah, actually. Live, I play a lot punchier and harder. I try to blend with the kick as much as possible and really “James Jamerson” it.

GX: How hard was it losing longtime drummer Ryan Dusick in 2006?

M5: It was a really difficult thing for us to let Ryan go. He’s one of my best friends, and we clicked in every sense, on the stage and outside of music.

GX: So what caused his departure?

M5: Ryan is a very hard-hitting drummer, and over time, he developed nerve damage in his arms that really hurt when he played. It got so bad that for some shows, he had to take it really easy, and that was just killing his spirit. And it killed us to watch him go through that.

GX: How did you find Matt Flynn, and how is he different?

M5: Ryan is a swingy, groovy, jazzy drummer, and Matt is more of a rock drummer. We needed a drummer overnight, and Matt was recommended by Gavin DeGraw, who he was playing for. It was very lucky for us that things worked out so well.

GX: How is It Won’t Be Soon Before Long different than your previous albums?

M5: This one is more soulful and a bit more Motown. We were so detail-oriented, really focused on every little aspect of the songs.

GX: Overall, was this is a more confident album for you guys?

M5: Definitely. We knew exactly what we wanted with this one, and we didn’t stop until we got it. Everything we did was more concise, more intense, and more honest.  

GX: So how do you guys write your material?

M5: There’s no real formula. Adam writes a lot of songs on guitar, Jessie writes a lot on piano, sometimes we just jam and something comes of it. My role varies because I love filling the holes in with groove. Placement is a huge thing to me.

GX: What was it like working with Mike Elizondo?

M5: Mike is possibly the nicest and most sincere guy we’ve ever worked with. He’s always so mellow—he literally has no ego whatsoever. He was at the top of our list for producers, so when he agreed to do it we were thrilled. He was a big part of helping us convey what we wanted to convey.

GX: Did it make you nervous to work with Elizondo because he’s a master bass player?

M5: Ummm, yeah—big time! Most great bass players master one style of music; Mike has mastered all of them. He could literally kill any line I wrote on the album, but instead he loved what I did and had great respect for my playing.

GX: Did having him behind the boards make you a better bass player on the album?  

M5: Absolutely. He had my back on everything—the way I finger picked, where I was playing on the fretboard, my note selection. His ear was open to every little facet of what I did. It took a lot of pressure off me.

GX: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring bands and musicians?

M5: Relinquish your ego. Become one with your bandmates. Learn the basics. Expect struggle. Love what you do, and if you ever stop loving what you’re doing, stop doing it. Music is all about the passion of playing, and when that’s gone, there is no point in continuing.


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