Marvin Gaye, Tupac Inspire Maroon 5’s Latest Album

Two pictures were on the walls of the Switzerland studio where Maroon 5 recorded their latest album. One was of Marvin Gaye and the other of Tupac Shakur.

Frontman Adam Levine knows the resulting CD, Hands All Over, will never be mistaken for a Tupac record or music by Gaye. But both men still provided plenty of musical inspiration for the album.

“Those were two people that did whatever they wanted to do, and artistically, just kind of followed whatever path they wanted to follow,” he said.

His five-member band expresses a similar freedom on Hands All Over, their third album, released last month. The Los Angeles-based rockers recorded the CD – which mixes pop, rock, R&B and country sounds – with veteran producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange. Levine said it was the “best recording process we’ve had in our lives.”

Photo: AP Photo / NBC
NBC "Today" show, New York City

The Associated Press: Talk about the songwriting behind the album.

Levine: If I was upset about something I would turn it into a love song. It would always be a love song that was the model for how I was feeling. So it was just feelings, things I was going through. (There were) lot of things in Switzerland I was going through. I wrote a lot of lyrics. It was just 24 hours of creativity ’cause it was a really serene place. Just honesty. (That’s) the main focus on all of the records, but especially on this one was really raw, kind of truthful, human emotion.

AP: Is there ever a subject you don’t want to write about in a song?

Levine: It’s never really been a business thing for me. It’s hard. … I heard some famous story about somebody who’d go in every day and just write something to write something, and I’d love to get to that point in my career, in my life – just that kind of prolific songwriting. But I just don’t. It has to be something that I’m going through. If it’s not then it’s hard for me to write down. So yeah, there’s times when I really don’t want to write a song.

AP: Who would you like to write a song for?

Levine: I don’t know if I want to write a song for anybody. I think it has to start off for me, and then if it makes sense for another singer or artist or whatever, that would be cool. I don’t really ever have a desire to write a song for somebody other than myself, you know. If it doesn’t start off that way at least, it doesn’t ring true to me.

AP: Why is the record called Hands All Over?

Levine: Album titles are funny. … “Hands All Over” is kind of evocative. … It’s mysterious and kind of sexual and I’m not sure what it means, but it sounds really good so we wanted to use that as our album’s name (laughs).

Photo: Owen Sweeney /
University of Delaware, Newark, Del.

AP: In the video for first single, “Misery,” you’re constantly attacked by your ex. Had you ever done anything so wrong in a relationship to deserve a similar beating?

Levine: I don’t know if I’ve ever done anything that deserves a beating like that. Being set on fire and thrown off buildings and hit by cars is pretty brutal. I mean, everyone’s done wrong. I’ve done wrong, you know. It’s part of life. It’s kind of how you deal with those mistakes that’s best.