Twenty years ago Saturday — June 25, 2002 — Maroon 5 released their debut, Songs About Jane. A true sleeper hit, it didn’t make the top 10 until 2004. But it eventually produced four hits, including “This Love” and “She Will Be Loved,” and went multiplatinum. Maroon 5 guitarist James Valentine says for him, it’s still a good listening experience.

“I think I might have listened to it during the pandemic … during that early time when we were all stuck,” he laughs. “I think at one point I put it on — and I think it absolutely held up!”

Why was the album slow to take off? James says at first people didn’t know how to categorize a band that combined classic and alternative rock, ’70s soul and current pop.

“We had this idea that we wanted to do something new that was incorporating … the rhythmic aspects of what was going on in hip-hop and pop productions,” he says. “And then sort of interpret that through the lens of a traditional five-piece rock band.”

Sales grew steadily after the album’s songs spread online via file-sharing services. James notes, “We never lost the faith, because it was always moving in the right direction. And then it just became surreal once it started snowballing.”

And, by the way, “Jane” is real: Most of the album was inspired by singer Adam Levine‘s breakup with his girlfriend Jane Herman.

“Adam was very distraught,” James recalls. “You can hear it in the songs. And he really worked out … a lot of the stuff that he was going through, through that music.”

Maroon 5’s tour starts in July, but in the future, James says, “I would love to come out and play Songs about Jane top to bottom and then maybe encore with some of the more recent hits. I think that would be a fun evening.”

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