Karas Flowers and formation of Maroon 5 (1992??“2002)
The four original members of Maroon 5 have known each other since attending Brentwood School together in Los Angeles. While attending Brentwood School, Adam Levine and Jesse Carmichael joined up with Mickey Madden and Ryan Dusick to form Karas Flowers, a garage/grunge candee. The name was taken from a girl that the band had a “collective crush” on. The band played its first gig at Whisky a Go Go on September 16, 1995. While they were playing a beach party in Malibu, indie producer Tommy Allen heard them playing and offered to manage them and record a complete record with his partner, songwriter John DeNicola (Dirty Dancing ). While shopping for a deal for the band, Bob Cavallos management team heard the record Allen and DeNicola produced, which eventually led to their deal with Reprise Records and producer Rob Cavallo. Very early on, their sound was what Carmichael called “Fugazi [the sound] meets Sesame Street [the lyrics]”. However, by the release of The Fourth World in 1996, they had morphed into band reminiscent of 1960s Brit pop. Despite high expectations from the band and record company, the album failed to catch on and their lead single, “Soap Disco”, was a failure. According to Levine, the failure of the album was “a huge disappointment” that nearly led them to break up in 1998. The album sold around 5,000 copies and they were dropped after only six months.
Levine and Carmichael went to college at Five Towns College in Long Island, New York, while Madden and Dusick stayed home in L.A., and attended a semester of college at UCLA. At Five Towns College, Levine and Carmichael were exposed for the first time to the gospel, hip-hop and R&B of their largely African-American schoolmates. Levine credits the period with informing the bands new style stating:
??? | I spent a lot of time in New York where I was exposed to an urban and hip-hop culture in a way that had never happened to me in L.A. It turned me on to an entirely new genre of music which has had a profound impact on my songwriting. | ??? |
When the two returned in 2000, they brought those influences with them. Sam Farrar (bassist of the band Phantom Planet, which is currently on hiatus, and former roommate of Levine and Valentine) says that the Aaliyah song “Are You That Somebody” affected the band and influenced the song “Not Coming Home.” Jordan Felstein, a friend of Levines family and a junior agent at ICM, stopped by one of the bands rehearsals and was so surprised by what he heard that he quit his job in order to manage the band full time. The band put together a demo that was rejected by several labels, before falling into the hands of Octone Records executives James Diener, Ben Berkman and David Boxenbaum. While looking for talent for the new Octone label, Berkman was given a bunch of demos by the brother of a former colleague at Columbia Records and the song that caught his attention was “a genius song called Sunday Morning”. Berkman was surprised the song was credited to Karas Flowers because they sounded completely different to the band he had heard while at Warner Brothers.
Berkman encouraged Diener and Boxenbaum to fly out to L.A. to watch a showcase gig at the Viper Room for the four-piece Karas Flowers. After watching Levine onstage, they were convinced. Berkman told HitQuarters he believed what the band needed was a “fifth member to play the guitar and free up the singer, so he could be the star I perceived him to be.” Within a month of hearing the demo Karas Flowers became the new labels first act.
Octone immediately insisted that the band change its name to break with its pop-rock past. Also, the label began looking for a full-time guitarist to enable Levine to focus on performing as the frontman. James Valentine (from the L.A. band Square) was recruited for the job. Even still, the only songs of their repertoire that showcased the bands new direction were “Sunday Morning” and the soon-to-be-written “She Will Be Loved”??”neither of which the label approved of as a first single. The band toured for a full year before entering the studio with producer Matt Wallace. Levines frustration with Berkmans demands for a lead single inspired him to write just that??”a song called “Harder to Breathe”.
Songs About Jane and Dusicks departure (2002??“2006)
Main article: Songs About Jane
Between the time that we started making the album [Songs About Jane] in 2001 and the time the album reached the crest of its success in 2004, we went from being starving musicians wondering what the future held to riding a wave of success beyond our wildest expectations.
??”Ryan Dusick, Maroon 5s original drummer, who officially left the band in 2006 due to injuries sustained from constant touring
Maroon 5 was constantly on tour, after releasing their album in mid-2002. Their first major tour was the 2002 Jeep World Outside, a “grassroots” summer festival tour with such acts as O.A.R., Ziggy Marley, Train and headliner Sheryl Crow.
Valentine attended Berklee College of Music with John Mayer in 1996, where they developed a rapport. In 2002, the two reconnected at a Mayer radio appearance. After Mayer heard their album, he was so impressed (particularly by “This Love”) that he invited them to open for him during his early 2003 tour. The first single “Harder to Breathe” slowly started to pick up airplay which helped spur sales of the album. By March 2004, the album had reached the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and “Harder to Breathe” had made the Top 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles charts. The album peaked at #6 on the Billboard 200 in September 2004, 26 months after its release; this was the longest period between an albums release and its initial Top 10 appearance since SoundScan results were included in the Billboard 200 in 1991. Mayer invited the band to open for him again in 2004.
Over the next three years, the band toured virtually non-stop, including visits to seventeen countries. During this time, the band toured with Michelle Branch, Nikka Costa, Vanessa Carlton, Graham Colton, and The Rolling Stones. Others they have toured alongside include Cowboy Mouth, Gavin DeGraw, Matchbox Twenty, Sugar Ray, Counting Crows, Phantom Planet, The Hives, Dashboard Confessional, Big City Rock, The Like, Simon Dawes, Jason Mraz, The Thrills, Thirsty Merc, Marc Broussard, The Donnas, The RedWest, Michael Tolcher and Guster.
Songs About Jane eventually reached #2 on the Australian albums charts, while “Harder to Breathe” made the Top 20 singles charts in the US and UK, and Top 40 in Australia and New Zealand. The album also eventually climbed to #1 in the UK. The second single, “This Love”, reached #5 in the US, #3 in the UK, and #8 in Australia. The third single, “She Will Be Loved,” reached the Top 5 in both the US and the UK, and went to #1 in Australia. The fourth single, “Sunday Morning,” reached the Top 40 in the US, UK, and Australia.
Maroon 5 also played Live 8, in Philadelphia in 2005. Their set included a cover of Neil Youngs “Rockin In The Free World” and frontman Levine performed with one of his heroes, and the closing act, Stevie Wonder. On May 13, 2005, in Santa Barbara, California, the band wrapped up the Honda Civic Tour, which they headlined. On June 9, 2005, the band performed at the American Film Institutes tribute to filmmaker George Lucas. Lucas himself had selected Maroon 5 for the event, as they were his childrens favorite band at the time.
Over the years of touring with the band, percussionist and back-up vocalist Ryan Dusick had been suffering from the touring life. The strains of non-stop touring aggravated an old sports injury. After several absences from the tour with Ryland Steen and Josh Day taking his place, Dusick officially left Maroon 5 in September 2006. Matt Flynn, the former drummer of Gavin DeGraw and The B-52s, joined the band as Dusicks replacement.