Love on the Line
Maroon 5 escaped to Switzerland to record their new album of sultry pop. Will it be their last?
The blonde bitch who greets me at the door of Adam Levine’s gated Los Angeles home won’t leave me alone. She follows me through the foyer to the dusky living room, where she moves to the floor, arching to show off her midsection. As soon as I sit down, she begins to lick my toes while Levine and keyboardist/housemate Jesse Carmichael watch approvingly. The action wouldn't seem out of place in one of Maroon 5's titillating music videos - except that this fine lady is a golden retriever named Frankie. ‘She’s a lover,” Levine says, giving his panting pup a warm rub.
While Levine, who’s channeling Paul Bunyan with his red-and-black plaid shirt and dark boots, has no compunction discussing Frankie’s personal tendencies, he’s made it a point to avoid sharing that part of his life with the press. But if you’re really interested, you needn’t look further than his band’s music. On their first two albums, the double-platinum Songs About Jane and It Won’t Be Soon Before Long, Levine didn’t shy away from singing about his romantic exploits, messy break-ups and unrequited lust.
Their new album, Hands All Over, covers similar territory. “I don't like to say anything that doesn't pertain to what I know, what I'm going through or what I’m experiencing,” says Levine, flopping his legs over the arm of his leather chair like a restless kid. “It's so funny. Everyone’s like, ‘You write all these love songs about sex and relationships.’ And I'm like, ‘What else is there?’" Things have changed, though. He now admits he has a girlfriend. “He’s settled down,” says Carmichael, who's also spoken for. "His Lothario days are over."
Last summer the band - guitarist James Valentine, drummer Matt Flynn, and bassist Mickey Madden round out the lineup - took a break from their fast-paced L.A. lifestyle and retreated to Lake Geneva, Switzerland, to record with legendary producer Mutt Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard). According to Levine, Lange was the first person in a long time to tell the band that they could do better. “Usually in our position, that’s not something anybody ever says,” says Levine. “We’ve got a lot of ‘yes’ men everywhere. I don't know why we weren't subjected to that kind of production. You don't ever want to feel like you're in a position where you're impervious to criticism.”
Despite receiving the super-producer treatment, longtime fans are sure to be happy with Hands All Over; there's even a surprising country-duet with Lady Antebellum singer Hillary Scott called "Out of Goodbyes." Levine says the band made the record they wanted to make and didn’t worry about people’s reactions. “I want to just be whoever I am at the time,” says Levine. “I'm not going to pander to anybody, or if it’s what my fans want. If I’m not being myself, I'm doing them a disservice.”