Maroon 5 Guitarist James Valentine on Touring, 'Frenetic' Record Cycles

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Maroon 5's Red Pill Blues Tour has been going in earnest for nearly two months now, and guitarist James Valentine says the best thing about it has been giving fans a different, and in many cases harder-rocking, version the group's material. 

"Some the most common feedback that we've gotten is, 'Oh, I didn't understand how much you guys actually rock. It's way louder than I thought it would be!'" Valentine tells Billboard with a laugh. "I get it; I think, definitely, the last few records have been more electronic in their production but at the end the day we're a rock band, so we get in a room and figure out how to take some the electronic elements and flesh 'em out with real instruments and interface some the studio sounds with the raw elements a rock band, which can be a challenge sometimes

"I think that's what makes it unique and what people really enjoy about the live experience," he continues. "We always tread the studio differently than a live gig; We craft those records for the radio, but live we want to give it a different experience."

That sounds like impetus for another live album, to succeed 2005's Live -- Friday the 13th (not counting the 2008 iTunes exclusive Live From Le Cabaret). "We've talked about it," Valentine says. "The last one was while we were still touring Songs About Jane, so there might be something in the works. It's definitely probably time for that."

The current tour is, course, in support last year's Red Pill Blues, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA. Valentine reports that "What Lovers Do" and "Wait" have been going over particularly well live -- along with covers Michael Jackson's "Rock With You," Alphaville's "Forever Young" and frontman Adam Levine's "Lost Stars" -- though the guitarist adds that it's been a bit odd to wait six months after a new album to get on the road. 

"It's a little weird for us that the album was out that long, and that's unusual for us," says Valentine, noting that Levine's commitment to "The Voice" and the birth his second child prevented Maroon 5 from going out earlier. "I feel like when we're out on tour, that's when we really get to see how the fans are interacting with the songs, and I think the response has been amazing and that was something we were hoping for. You never what’s going to happen, so we're... really happy with it."

The Red Pill Blues Tour is currently booked in North America until mid-October, with the fall season The Voice looming for Levine. And there's no movement yet towards a next album, according to Valentine.

"Y'know, I think we've been working for so long, at such a sort frenetic pace; For the first 12 years our career we were never not in some part a record cycle," he explains. "At the beginning this year, we were around in town (Los Angeles) but I think everybody kind just took a break to focus on their own lives for a second, which is kind new for us. We've tried to create a little more space just to live life in between everything."