Maroon 5’s Jesse Carmichael
When three-time GRAMMY Award-winning Maroon 5 took the stage as headliners at the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII Halftime Show, Santa Monica College alum Jesse Carmichael was right there in the limelight.
“It was a thrill to be onstage putting on our best show and showing people sides of the band they might not have heard,” said Jesse, the band’s keyboardist/rhythm guitarist.
Jesse and future Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine and bassist Mickey Madden were in 10th grade at Brentwood School when they formed a band, Kara’s Flowers. The day they recorded their first demo tape, they played at a beach party in Malibu, “and a producer was walking his dog on the beach and heard us; he came up, and I had a [demo] tape in my coat pocket and gave it to him. The next day, they gave us a recording contract.”
That fortunate encounter led to an album and a “major label by the time we were done with high school,” but it was a shifting time in the music world. The band was dropped, but the record label “had to pay us to leave, so we got to take a little time off — and that’s when I went to Santa Monica College.”
“Jesse was a star student — straight As, very humble and modest,” said SMC music professor David Goodman. “I don’t think he learned as much from me as I learned from him.”
“I really fell in love with the music program at SMC,” said Jesse. “Dr. Goodman was such a great teacher. It was a very inspiring time.”
While at SMC, Jesse was also launching a career with Maroon 5, a Los Angeles band that would go on to become “the most successful group in the history of the Billboard Hot 100.”
He was thinking of transferring to UCLA, but everything took off with the band. “Someday, I will, because — this pertains especially to music — learning is such a lifetime experience. The more I learn about music, the more I realize what I do not know.”
He added, “I was always trying to fit in continuing education after high school and when we weren’t on the road.”
“I’m still working on musical literacy,” Jesse said. “I would love to be able to pick up a piece of sheet music and hear it in my head, or play it on an instrument, but that is something I need to put time into. And thus the endless [lifelong] education!”
Asked about future plans, he said, “My father was a filmmaker — I grew up loving photography and film, and I’m now getting more into that world myself, doing scoring work, shooting, editing, directing, and writing. That’s going to be part of the next chapter in my life.”
And Jesse and Maroon 5 “already have some new songs coming together for a new album, a continuation of the super-catchy, forward-thinking pop music that we have been focused on for the last couple albums.”
For more information about SMC’s Music Department, see smc.edu/music. To learn more about Maroon 5, visit maroon5.com.