With the band’s third album, Hands All Over, now on the shelves and an Aussie tour pending, we thought we’d give guitarist James Valentine (pictured far right) a call…
Hi James. Been up to much? We had an interesting week last week as we played at the Critic’s Choice Awards. They were honouring Quentin Tarantino and we were like the house band and we played a couple of songs from his films like “Stuck in the Middle” and “Son of a Preacher Man”. That was fun, learning new material and stuff.
Anyone you’d love to work with? I would love to collaborate with James Murphy from http://www.tntdownunder.com/article/2487125971.html[LCD Soundsystem]. He’s a great producer, engineer and artist. He would be top of my list. I met him once, at a dinner in New York. It was kind of a weird thing. I sort of cornered him, I probably scared him!
Do you get starstruck? Oh yeah, absolutely. I’m really not good at meeting people like that. I do get very starstruck. These other guys grew up here in LA where you just learn how to act around people, just play it cool. But I grew up in Nebraska where there’s not a lot of celebrities going through, or anybody, ha. So yeah I freak out all the time. I’ve dropped glasses, and always say the wrong thing. I’m pretty self-conscious.
How did it feel when you first made it big as a band? Well, it was a shock, but it happened in a very healthy way because it took us a couple of years for that first single to take off. It was actually quite gradual. Plus the other guys had already been signed and dropped from a label once so there was already that experience of failure, so I think we were a little bit more prepared than a lot of bands.
What do you do while travelling? I’ve become very well read. And you know now with all the technology there’s plenty of ways to distract yourself. You just go into your own world.
Do you get to see much of Australia when you tour here? We do, the first time we went to Australia, we had some good times, going out, doing a lot of the tourist stuff, holding a baby wallaby, stuff like that was pretty cool. I think we’ve got some days off after Perth this time so I’m sure we’ll get into some trouble.
Do you get nervous before gigs? You know, I don’t really get stage nerves. When we’re going out there playing for our fans who have bought tickets, as soon as you hear the crowd, once the lights go down, and you feel that goodwill, it’s hard to get nervous.
Do you still have to pinch yourself? Absolutely, and that’s when you really get to experience that, when you come back to somewhere like Australia and check in with those fans we haven’t seen for a while across the world and you realise people are singing along. That’s awesome. When you’re in front of those people you can’t help but feel pretty stoked.
Did you have a back-up plan? Yeah, I started in university studying advertising. That was a pretty practical thing that I could have done. I mean I got through most of my programme, I just had one more semester to finish but during that time I was playing at night and my band decided to move to Los Angeles to seek our fame and fortune. I never really looked back. A couple of my really good friends found a bit of success in the advertising world and they have a great time. It would have been interesting, but I don’t think I was really cut out for anything but music.
As a band, you’ve done a lot to raise environmental awareness. How important is that to you? You know, there’s lots of opportunities to talk about stuff when you’re put in a position like we are. It’s just one of these issues that can benefit from increased awareness. Nobody wants to hear a musician preach about these sorts of things, but I think whatever we can do to increase peoples’ awareness that our actions are having a permanent effect on the planet is a good thing.
Maroon 5 play Perth (May 1), Melbourne (May 5), Sydney (May 6), Brisbane (May 7) and Adelaide (May 9). See www.ticketek.com.au