Maroon 5 rides wave of popularity

Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's newfound exposure on NBC's reality talent show “The Voice” hasn't cut into the regular job he still shares with his four bandmates. Maroon 5 will perform Thursday at the Zoo Amphitheatre for a co-headlining gig with Train.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Published: September 16, 2011
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For a band that wilted after one album as Kara's Flowers, then took two years to get off the ground as a reinvented pop-rock/R&B hybrid, Maroon 5 is now in full platinum-and-gold bloom on the music charts, playing to packed houses all around the world and boasting a sex-symbol lead singer who's starring on the most popular freshman show of the TV season just past.

But frontman Adam Levine's newfound exposure on NBC's reality talent show “The Voice” hasn't cut into the regular job he still shares with his four bandmates, and Maroon 5 will be clocking in at the Zoo Amphitheatre on Thursday for a co-headlining gig with their fellow pop-rockers in Train.

“Oh, I think that's been such a positive thing on so many different levels,” Maroon 5 keyboardist-guitarist Jesse Carmichael said of Levine's television sideline. “One, obviously, it's brought a lot more attention to the band. And, two, it was the first time since we've been together for the last 20 years that we ever had somebody really sort of branch out and do something different with their lives that didn't involve the rest of the guys.”

Levine, Carmichael, bassist Mickey Madden and drummer Ryan Dusick spent the latter half of the '90s as Los Angeles-based alt-pop band Kara's Flowers, releasing one album on the Reprise label that failed to take root in the collective conscience of the music-buying public.

Regrouping as Maroon 5 and adding guitarist James Valentine, they adopted a more rhythm 'n' blues-influenced sound, releasing their debut album “Songs About Jane” on Octone Records in June 2002. But it took a good 17 months for the album's first single, “Harder to Breathe,” to find favor on mainstream radio.

The next single, “This Love,” became a hit with a lot of help from a sexed-up video featuring Levine and a scantily clad female, and “Songs About Jane” finally entered the Billboard Top 10 in August 2004, more than two years after its initial release. Two more singles, “She Will Be Loved” and “Sunday Morning,” boosted the album's sales to 2.7 million by the end of that year.

An extensive round of touring ensued, opening for such acts as the Rolling Stones and John Mayer, finally taking its toll on original drummer Dusick, who was replaced in 2006 by Matt Flynn, former drummer for Gavin DeGraw. Maroon 5's sophomore effort, “It Won't Be Soon Before Long,” finally came in May 2007, and although its sales fell short of the first LP — which eventually topped 4 million — the second effort still managed to go double platinum and produce the hit single “Makes Me Wonder.”

Producer's touch

The band's third album, “Hands All Over,” debuted at No. 2 on Billboard's Top 200 upon its release last year, producing the hits “Misery” and “Never Gonna Leave This Bed,” with a lot of help from superstar producer Robert John “Mutt” Lang.

“He really pushed us more than anybody else has ever pushed us,” Carmichael said. “He'd made a lot of classic records, and I think we all sort of came to the table with this sort of respect for him and the stories we'd heard about how meticulous he was and the incredible success that he's had as a producer and as a songwriter and as a musician and singer.

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IN CONCERT

Maroon 5 and Train

With: Matt Nathanson.

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Where: Zoo Amphitheatre, 2101 NE 50.

Tickets and information: (800) 511-1552 or www.zooamp.com.

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