|Photograph source: maroon5.com
Early last September, word of a secret concert at RIT had emerged. By Sept. 10, following the official tour announcement, the College Activities Board revealed that Maroon 5 will be performing at the Gordon Field House on Nov. 6 as part of the band’s exclusive “Back to School” college tour. With guitarist James Valentine “off at a wedding with his girlfriend,” front man Adam Levine probably “writing some music,” and bassist Mickey Madden and drummer Matt Flynn all back in LA, keyboardist Jesse Carmichael phoned in from his Culver City home to answer a few questions.
Reporter: Why did you start the “Back to School” college tour?
Jesse Carmichael: It’s always been one of our favorite places to play (on college campuses) because the energy from the kids is so exciting, and it’s basically where we got started too. Back in 2002, when we started touring, we did a lot of shows around colleges. That was always a lot of fun. Plus, none of us really went to college, so... it really is back to school for us.
R: Based on past tours, which city was your favorite and why?
JC: The best show we’ve ever played was in Seoul, Korea. The audience was the most pumped up of any audience that we’ve ever played for in our entire life. We rocked out to 20,000 people, everyone holding a glowstick in their hand and jumping up in the air and screaming the entire time. It was sort of a psychedelic... living seaweed... organism. It was just incredible.
Touring used to make me feel like the world was such a small place; you could just get on a plane and suddenly you’re in Australia ... But, when you actually go to all these cities, ... you realize that there are so many people, and everybody is just trying to make the best of it. It’s kind of overwhelming; it doesn’t feel like a small world at all.
R: I heard that the band spent some time in Switzerland over the summer recording. Why Switzerland and what was it like?
JC: That was amazing. We went there because of producer, Robert John “Mutt” Lang, who is a legend in the music business, and we recorded in his studio up there. So it was a perfect opportunity for us to leave all the distractions of LA, really get isolated with each other, and see what music came out of that.
R: Where do you usually draw inspiration from when composing music?
JC: From everywhere. Anything is something that can inspire you whether or not it’s a positive thing or a negative thing. Anything that you see or you hear or you read about or experience is all part of the inspiration. It could be music that you love, or it could be music that you hate; and nobody really knows where stuff comes from, music-wise.
R: The band uses a lot of social media to spread the word and to communicate with fans. Whose decision was that and what’s your opinion on how social media is being used in the music industry?
JC: It was all of our decision because it’s just fascinating to everybody how connected everything is these days. I mean, Twitter is the latest thing to really get everybody’s attention … I think that it’s just fascinating that you can be in direct communication with people all around the world with just a few clicks on your cell phone. It really makes this whole speeding up of technology process feel much more real. You know, where is it going to be a year from now? Totally telepathic?
It’s so exciting because you think about a concept like dictatorship or some sort of brutal state-run government trying to brainwash its citizens with certain lies about the world. It’s not going to work anymore with people being able to get information instantly from other people in countries all around the world. I think it’s a great way for people to come together and for the whole propaganda machine to break down. I hope people will use it for good. That’s all I’m saying: There’s a potential for people to use this for just inane sort of boring stuff or for really positive change.
R: In an interview with Rolling Stone, Adam stated that he believed the band is reaching its peak and after one more album, might disband. What’s your take on that?
JC: You never know, right? I hate to say anything one way or the other because you just never know.
R: Why did the band change its name from Kara’s Flowers to Maroon 5, and how did that impact the band’s career?
JC: We already made a real push for it as Kara’s Flowers, and it failed pretty much across the board. And when we met James Valentine and I started playing keys instead of guitar, we decided that it was a pretty new band. All the songs sounded different, and we had gotten off of our old record label. We were totally unaffiliated with anything in the business, and so it was a totally fresh start for us. That was just a great decision because sometimes you just got to separate yourself form the past. Start fresh.
R: So why Maroon 5 particularly?
JC: As everyone should know by now, we have never told the story of what our band’s name means, except to Billy Joel. Once. When Adam was drunk at a restaurant and broke our sacred oath... So, I’m not drunk right now, and I’m not going to break the oath.
R: If you could tell anyone at RIT anything, especially budding musicians, what would it be?
JC: I would say that I hope that anyone who is playing music is having a great time and that it’s improving the quality of their life. As long as they keep their motivations really pure, no matter what they’re doing, it’s going to be a great experience no matter what happens.