Philippine Daily Inquirer
Adam Levine on PH, ‘The Voice’
LOS ANGELES—“When we go to the Philippines, we are always blown away by how much they (the Filipinos) love us,” said Adam Levine, Maroon 5’s frontman and a judge-coach on “The Voice.”
“They got lots of love for Maroon 5 over there,” added the musician who has performed three times with his Grammy winning band in the Philippines. Fit and trim, he was a GQ man personified in a slim suit in this recent chat.
He is a Los Angeles native, one of the rare ones who actually hails from La La Land. “Born and raised, baby,” he quipped. “Down the street. Cedars-Sinai (the hospital, which is a few minutes away from Four Seasons, where we were). One of the only ones, by the way.”
Raised in the affluent LA enclave of Brentwood, he has known actors like Jake Gyllenhaal and Jason Segel since kindergarten.
“Yeah, it’s a great place, man,” Adam told me about the Philippines. “The excitement that we feel when we go there is tremendous. When you go that far from home and you’re that loved by an entire group of people, you’re like, wow, they really appreciate this. We’re always surprised like, wow, they really love us that much. It’s very cool.”
On his third concert trip to the Philippines last September, he and two of his bandmates found time to play a quick round at the Manila Golf Club, as reported by the INQUIRER.
Asked about watching versions of “The Voice” in his trips around the globe, the 37-year-old brought up the one in the Philippines, where my fellow PDI columnist, Lea Salonga, is one of the judge-mentors. “It’s funny because I’ll be in the Philippines or somewhere. I’ll do a double take because I’ll think to myself, oh, that’s not me. It’s the Filipino me. But it’s crazy—the reach of the show has been like a dream, almost.”
He said about “The Voice of Holland,” which started it all: “When we saw what the show had done on a smaller scale in Holland, we were pretty blown away.”
On the end of “American Idol” and the steady popularity of “The Voice,” he commented, “To me, ‘The Voice’ and ‘American Idol’ are so different. I was wary to sign on to ‘The Voice,’ but at the same time, I thought it was so completely different than anything I’d ever seen before. I was like, this is really cool, and it had its own merits that didn’t have anything to do with anything else.”
Adam dished about one of “The Voice’s” entertaining aspects—fellow judge Blake Shel
ton’s razzing of his hair.
“He’ll ask me, ‘What can I say about your hair today?’ I’ll be like, ‘You can say that it looks like cotton candy.’”
Halfway through our talk, Adam, prodded on what he is really like away from a probing journalist, said, “I’m pretty weird and goofy and not like this. I’m being awesome right now ( laughs). I am speaking clearly and my thoughts are complete.”
On becoming a dad in a few months—his Namibian wife, Victoria’s Secret Angel
Behati Prinsloo, is five months pregnant with a girl—Adam shared, “The baby can’t come fast enough. I’m so excited. That’s what we are built for. I’m ready.”
In the meantime, Adam cowrote a song, “Go Now,” for “Sing Street” by John Carney, who directed “Once” and “Begin Again,” which marked the singer’s first starring role. For the latter film, Adam also sang “Lost Stars,” which earned a 2015 Oscar best song nod. John collaborated with Adam on “Go Now.”
The charismatic singer-composer is seriously interested in acting. “I would love to be in more movies. I have to find the right ones.”
Adam identified with “Sing Street’s” story of a boy in 1980s Dublin who starts a band and moves to London. “The movie really… was like putting an Irish mirror to my childhood, because these kids dressing like their heroes and writing songs to get the girls—that’s what we did when we were young.
“Playing music with a band is a place that you feel like you belong. It’s empowering to be in a band, and so I loved all of that.”
So what did it entail to write a song for a movie set in the 1980s? “Ah, mostly cocaine,” he answered with a laugh. “I am just f***ing kidding.
“A lot of times, people get carried away with the neon, crimped hair and the weird, dumb part of the ’80s. They don’t realize that there was actually amazing music that was groundbreaking. Great bands and artists.”
Speaking of bands, Adam performed at Troubadour, the legendary West Hollywood rock club, when he was only 12 years old.
“It was amazing. I wasn’t the singer. I was a guitar player. But I got to sing one song, ‘Rockin’ Robin.’ I thought I was pretty good. The band didn’t think so, because I got kicked out of the band a week later. Maybe I was a threat or something.
“I remember that was a wild time. It was actually, strangely enough, the night that the (1992) riots in LA broke out.
“My mother had vivid stories of driving to the place in West Hollywood to see us play. People were shaking and rocking her car. It was a sad day. Sad that I have to remember both the greatest day of my young life and one of the worst days in LA’s history.”
The way he and his later band were discovered in Malibu is straight out of a Hollywood movie script. “We were probably 17, and we played at a party. We had just made our first demo, and we were in high school. This guy— Tommy Allen— was jogging on the beach with his dog and he heard our band playing.
“He got our information, and we gave him the demo, then that was it. That was the beginning.”
He volunteered his interesting songwriting process. “I write songs in the shower, when I can’t sleep,” he began. “I’ll never sit down to write a song because, if I do, it’ll be horrible.
As to how he has evolved as a songwriter, Adam admitted, “I might kick my a** a little bit. I’m a little bit lazier, a little more complacent, not quite as creative as I used to be because it’s impossible to be.
“It’s impossible to be as creative as you were when you were totally f***ed. When you were like, all right, I have to make a life for myself. You’re younger, so your emotions are all twisted and you don’t understand how to live. You’re trying to make it and you’re like, what am I going to do?
“There was a desperation that you can never duplicate ever again. It’s much harder to write music now because you have to learn and find new ways to be sincerely creative.”
This music star did not mince words about record companies. Last year, he also slammed record labels affiliated with “The Voice” for failing to launch the show’s winners to stardom, unlike “American Idol,” which has made hit record stars out of its victors and several finalists.
This time, he criticized the labels in general. “Record labels are done. They’re finished, because it’s karma. Record labels have treated people unfairly since the beginning. They’re corrupt; they’ve been corrupt; they’ve done awful things. Record labels have to release our records so I can say anything I want.
“They have no choice because we’re one of the bands that they have that’s going to be able to do anything for them, so I can really say anything. Sorry, guys, but ‘You know we don’t like you, but we have to deal with you.’ They’ve done a lot of bad things for artists, taken their money and spent too much of everyone’s money.”