Maroon 5's James Valentine spills on the band's later chart topper and tour, and why DC will always be a home away from home.
Maroon 5’s latest album draws upon electronic dance music, reggae, and the ’80s.
The multiplatinum and three-time Grammy Award–winning band Maroon 5 is growing up. “We blinked and we were in our 30s, and we’re still doing this thing,” says lead guitarist James Valentine. “It’s kind of strange.” Strange or not, the band’s success on the pop charts has been phenomenal: 2011’s “Moves Like Jagger” is one of the bestselling singles of all time, moving more than 14 million copies. With the release of their fifth album, V, the band migrates to new territory, influenced by everything from reggae to electro-pop. In advance of their March 2 show at the Verizon Center, Capitol File sat down with Valentine to discuss the genesis of the band’s latest record, the new elements they’ve injected into their sound, and what sets their DC fans apart from all others.
Tell us about creating the new album.
We never really stopped recording after the last record; we kept on collecting songs. And because we were on the road, we were e-mailing a lot of ideas back and forth. It wasn’t a traditional “Oh, let’s camp out in the studio for a year and make a record.” It was a lot more scattered than that.
This album has a different sound than your previous releases.
This is a continuation of something we started on Overexposed but really doubled down with this album. We went deep into this electro-pop sort of territory. So I think that’s different than any of the other records. I think the songs do have that sort of Maroon 5 sound, which you can break down to the funky guitar and, of course, Adam [Levine]’s voice at the center of that. It still has those aspects, although there’s much more of the electronic dance and ’80s elements.
How did you decide on V for the title?
It was the fifth record, and [we’re] Maroon 5—it seemed to be a very obvious choice. Five has been my lucky number as well my entire life. I was born on October 5. Of course, I’d like to think V is for Valentine, but the other guys might disagree. [Laughs]
What do you love about touring?
I actually really like the routine of being on tour. When you make music for a living, sometimes there’s not the routine you have in most normal jobs, which is a benefit. But sometimes you crave some sense of normalcy. I get that on tour, because we wake up and we have a show at night and a sound check at a certain time, and someone tells me where to be.
You have played dc many times before.
I love DC. We were able to play the presidential inauguration and some different events at the White House, like the Christmas tree lighting ceremony—which was amazing. But also, as we were coming up, I remember a lot of crazy nights at the 9:30 Club. We played there, like, a million times. I have very fond memories of those days.
What makes the dc crowd special?
DC has always been really supportive of us. Even back in the early days, the 9:30 Club was one of our favorite places to play because there was a real warmth to the crowd. It wasn’t our hometown, but it felt like one of those hometown stops when we started playing there. We really appreciate those people who came out early and supported us back when there wasn’t a lot going on for us. We’ll always love them.
And now you’re playing the Verizon center!
We’ll be going about our normal day backstage at the venue and a lot of times it doesn’t even hit me until that moment right when the lights go down and the crowd goes insane. Then you look out and you’re like, “Oh yeah, this is weird.” And we do it every night, and it’s awesome. That’s not supposed to happen, so we feel very blessed. March 2 at 7:30 pm at the Verizon Center, 601 F St. NW. For tickets, call 202-397-7328, or visit ticketmaster.com.