Adam Levine knows a little teasing goes a long way. That’s why the Maroon 5 superstud — who’s fronted the funky pop-rock band since its Grammy-winning debut, Songs About Jane, dropped eight years ago – is up for talking gay porn and solving problems in bed. Sex, though, is customary for the group — after all, they named their third album Hands All Over. And put a bare-naked babe on the cover.
That’s just the line Levine, 31, likes to cross, as he tells us. The gay-friendly guy also discussed his hotness eclipsing the band’s music, being domineering, his new fashion venture and freaking out uptight Americans.
Your first gay interview was with The Advocate, right?
Yes. Was that a gay interview? It’s so funny — a “gay interview.”
Before that, did you know you had a big gay following?
If you have a big following, a certain percentage of your big following must be gay — which, of course, I embrace with open arms.
What’s the significance of the title, Hands All Over?
An album title is almost meaningless — the ring of what you’re saying and the combination of words is what really matters. Naming an album is a very weird process; it doesn’t exactly have to mean anything. It just has to feel good.
This one definitely leaves room for interpretation. It could be sexual, or it could simply mean that you have your hands in every musical genre: rock, country, pop, soul. There’s even a disco sound on some of the songs. Is that what you were going for? Yeah, there’s definitely a sound that is ours, and there’s definitely a little bit of ’70s in what we do sometimes. You could say funk, maybe chic.
“Never Gonna Leave This Bed” left me wondering: Do you solve all your problems in bed?
(Laughs) That is certainly not a bad place to solve your problems! I also liked the double meaning there, because “Never Gonna Leave This Bed” could sound like you’re really depressed and you just want to sit and eat Ho Hos and be a slob, and also a place you can escape to with someone you care about.
In the “Misery” video, you seem to be enjoying those beatings a little too much. Is aggression a turn-on for you?
Not really, actually. I mean, aggressive, yes. I like to be in control. I don’t want to be dominated or anything like that — definitely not to the extent in the video. Getting the shit beaten out of me is not my thing.
Not even in bed?
In bed? No, no, no. I don’t like any kind of real pain in bed. Maybe the illusion of pain.
Do you feel like your looks overshadow your music?
I definitely think it overshadows our music. It doesn’t bother me, but one really doesn’t have anything to do with the other. And that’s all I can really say.
As flattering as it is to be considered attractive by anybody — which it is, it really is — it doesn’t really make me feel good when people judge what we do based on that. It’s just really silly because our music became successful on its own merit.
Is the band ever envious of you being … you?
No, I don’t think so. They’re not the types who want it.
I’ve heard that after this album you might disband. And then what? Do gay porn?
I’d have to be in a real low place to do that because, unfortunately, as much as I love the gays, I am not one of them (laughs). But if we stop selling records, who knows? What were we talking about, other than gay porn?
Will the band still be around after this album?
I don’t think that the band’s going anywhere. I just say that to fuck with people. And I’m sure that they have no desire to go solo. I may do things on my own and experiment with different people and try different things with different artists. I’ll always do collaborations, but I don’t want to be a solo artist.
If I were ever going to do something, maybe I’d start another band. But I’m not interested in it just being me — “Hey, look! It’s me, Adam Levine! And here’s my album!” It’s super uncool. I’d much rather be in a band. And I think I’m going to be in this one for a long time.
Why are you more comfortable around gay men than most straight guys seem to be?
Because there’s a lot of homophobic straight guys. Listen, I think the more secure you are with your sexuality, the more it doesn’t matter. I have straight friends and gay friends. I was raised in a place where we were a little ahead of our time with being accepting and tolerant of everybody. L.A.’s a different place to grow up; there’s obviously a huge gay community there. It was never weird or taboo.
It’s actually really astonishing that homosexuality is one of the last remaining acceptable prejudices. Like, it’s still acceptable to a certain extent for people to be homophobic. And it’s really disgusting, because being homophobic is no different than being racist or sexist. For some reason, people still think it’s OK to call people a faggot, and it really pisses me off.
I do press with gay and straight magazines; it doesn’t make a difference. People need to get real and realize that this needs to stop. But I’m happy about Prop. 8. That’s amazing. I hope it sticks.
You’ve also said that the United States is too uptight about sex. If it weren’t, how would you take advantage of that?
I would probably be the same. I’m always inspired to go too far, so I’ll probably do that with this album — make some video or something. I enjoy making uptight Americans feel uncomfortable. It’s sex! Who cares? People are more obsessed with censoring sex than censoring violence. That makes no sense to me. Same reason I don’t understand why marijuana is not legal and cigarettes are.
Do you smoke pot?
I write songs … of course I smoke pot!
How will your fashion line, 222, be different from other celebrity lines?
The difference is that I’m designing a lot of the stuff, and it’s going to be good. I’m really passionate about this. This is going to be really special. We have the best cuts, best fabrics, best everything. And it’s really simple. We’re trying to make this as clean and flawless as possible.
Were you this fashionable when you were a teenager?
No, I was into wearing the dorkiest things I could find. I loved vintage shopping. I was definitely a bit of a rebel at the time because I went to school with a bunch of people that were eventually going to become doctors and lawyers, and I wanted to be a musician. That was a rebellious move in my sheltered private-school world.
On the MTV show When I Was 17 you said you were gross when you were that age. What would you tell your 17-year-old self now?
I wouldn’t change a thing. Part of being a kid is not knowing what the hell you’re doing, and the journey of figuring it all out is part of life. And I wouldn’t tell myself anything, because I wouldn’t want to wind up in any other place.