Here’s the deal. I’ve got some things to get off my chest. This issue isn’t going to mean much to anyone but myself and the odd “Marooner” who might stumble in. People on Facebook and non-Marooners on Twitter are likely sick of my alluding to the situation. That’s okay. Being that I pay the bill for this blog I get to write about whatever I want.
So for anyone who’s not up to speed I will give a brief summary. Jesse Carmichael, hippie keyboardist extraordinaire for Maroon 5, is missing in action. Oh, he’s not actually missing in the sense that no one can find him. I mean he’s literally missing in action–music action. Since January 12th, Jesse has missed all of the band’s public appearances and performances. This includes a gig at the House of Blues in L.A. (which, incidentally, is where the band lives), the Super Bowl, the Grammys and, today, Mardi Gras, where the band was Grand Marshal for the Krewe of Endymion parade.
We know that Jesse is not sick, nor does he seem to be depressed. We know this from Twitter, where Jesse has been tweeting cheerfully, as normal. At the time of this writing he is in Berkeley at a conference on craniosacral therapy. (Told you he’s a hippie.)
I should also point out that this is not the usual m.o. for Maroon 5. They first hit the scene ten years ago, and, as far as we know, none of the band members has ever voluntarily skipped band functions. There may have been some absences for illness or other unpreventable issues, but to just decide not to go, not just to one event but several? It’s unprecedented. (FYI, the band is not currently keyboard-less. They have been touring with a second keyboard player, PJ, and he has been there in Jesse’s absence.)
Needless to say, this has the Maroon 5 fan community in an uproar. I think what is bothering people (including me) the most is the utter silence from both Jesse and the rest of the band. All of them are merrily sailing along as though things are completely normal; as if they haven’t suddenly misplaced a nearly-six-foot-tall ginger-haired piano player. Not one of them has said a single, solitary word of explanation or even just plain acknowledgement that Jesse isn’t there. Are we supposed to not have noticed? News flash, boys: WE NOTICE. Do they think we’re stupid?
You know, I’m not one of those types who thinks that because someone gets famous he surrenders all right to privacy. I don’t think celebrities owe fans all the details of their lives. But when you are in a band that has been playing together for more than fifteen years, and has been on the popular music scene for a decade, and has millions of devoted fans, and one of your members suddenly stops showing up to work? Yes, you do owe some sort of explanation. Even if it’s a lie. I mean, if you, as a “regular” person just stopped showing up to work one day, there would be people demanding an explanation, right? That’s what really gets me. Okay, so maybe he’s having personal issues. Maybe he’s questioning whether he wants to continue spending his every spare moment being in a band that’s as busy as Maroon 5. And maybe he’s not ready to share that with people. Fine. So make something up. Play it down. Just SAY SOMETHING. Say that 2011 was a really long, arduous year for the band (it was). Say Jesse wanted to take an uninterrupted month off to relax before things really kick off again this summer. Don’t simply ignore the fact that he is not performing with the group any longer! How can they just pretend things are copacetic? I don’t think we, as fans, have the right to intimate details of Jesse’s life, but I do think we are owed some sort of answer to our questions…even if it’s a fib or has a publicity spin put on it. We are loyal fans, we support them, and we love Jesse. We truly care about his well-being. Do you know, when people on Twitter first started realizing he was MIA, he hadn’t tweeted in several days and we were honestly worried about his health. I was upset all day when I finally clued in what was going on and no one had heard anything from Jesse. Just poof...no explanation from the rest of the group, who were at the Grammys, and no word from Jesse. I had actual, genuine anxiety about his welfare and I know others did, too.
At first I was simply concerned and sad at the implications of this hiatus. Now some time has gone by, and the guys have had numerous opportunities to offer an explanation or, hell, just acknowledge the elephant in the room, yet they choose not to do so. I am still concerned and sad, but I am also angry and disappointed. Adam always goes on about how grateful he is to the fans and how much they (the band) love us, but is this gratitude? Showing us, very clearly, that we don’t matter; that we aren’t even worth a made-up excuse? Treating us like we are stupid and haven’t noticed the enormous hole where Jesse’s rig has been every show for the past ten years?
Since we have ruled out illness and personal tragedy (thank goodness!) there are only two potential explanations, the way I see it. One, Jesse is merely exhausted after their whirlwind year last year and wanted an uninterrupted month (or however long) off. Jesse is a very chill person; I don’t think he buys into the whole “rock star” thing, so I can see how it might wear on him. He might feel like he needs some time off to pursue some of his other interests. Maroon 5 had a packed schedule last year and it’s shaping up the same this year. I am not sure they ever had much more than ten days straight at home all of last year, so I can see how it would be hard to schedule any leisure activities. However, if the explanation is as innocent as that, then why not make an announcement? I’m sure there are plenty of people who have shown up to the events he’s missed, wanting especially to see him, so why not let them know he’s simply on sabbatical? No, I’m afraid the apparent gag order points to something more sinister; namely that Jesse is considering separating from the group for good…that he’s taking this time away to think about it, and the band is holding his spot and refraining from making any sort of announcements until he is 100% sure on his decision. (I do think if he’d already left for certain they’d have made the announcement.)
What does this mean? Well, I can’t say for sure what it’ll mean for Maroon 5. I do think it will change the band dynamic. Jesse and Adam are best friends and have been since junior high. Jesse is so creative and offers so much to the creative process. It will change them, for certain. As for me, it will change my feeling about the band, as well. As fascinating as I find Adam, I go to see Maroon 5 live to see Jesse just as much as I do Adam. I am not sure my heart would be in going to see them if there was no gangly, red-haired hippie behind the keyboards. I just don’t know. I don’t like it. I don’t think it will be good for the band. Selfishly, I don’t think it’ll be good for me, either. As I told Robert the other day, “It’s a good thing the Beatles were broken up before I was even born.” I get entirely too attached to and invested in my favorite bands and I take these things very hard. But until we have some news one way or another, there is still hope, and I’m going to hold onto it.
Big shout out to my Twitter pal, D., who wrote about this same issue on her Tumblr. If you’ll read it you’ll see that I am not the only one who feels this way. I agree with everything she says.