A Maroon 5 band member is breaking the pop group’s silence about the controversy surrounding its upcoming performance at the Super Bowl halftime show in February.
The band and its frontman Adam Levine have faced pressure to decline the NFL’s invitation in light of the league’s opposition to the Take A Knee movement, an effort led by onetime player Colin Kaepernick to protest racial injustice and police brutality.
While many other artists ― including Rihanna, Cardi B and Pink ― reportedly turned the NFL down, Maroon 5 is charging ahead. After months of speculation, the band was officially confirmed as the headliner for the Pepsi Super Bowl LIII halftime show last week. “Astroworld” rapper Travis Scott and Atlanta native Big Boi will also be performing.
Maroon 5 keyboardist PJ Morton is now giving fans some insight into the band members’ decision to accept the invite. They are “not focusing on the negative” ahead of the show, he said, although they support the voices calling for change.
“I think there are plenty of people — a lot of the players, to be honest — who support Kap and also do their job for the NFL,” Morton, who became an official member of the band in 2012, told People. “I think we’re doing the same thing. We can support being against police brutality against black and brown people and be in support of being able to peacefully protest and still do our jobs. We just want to have a good time and entertain people while understanding the important issues that are at hand.”
“We’re definitely not focusing on the things that don’t help, that are counter-productive,” he added. “We’re blocking out the noise. We’re just doing what we do. We look to have a good time.”
Morton didn’t indicate whether the band plans to send its own political message during the performance.
“We got some time before we get there, and whatever we do, I’m going to stand behind [it] and be proud to be up there doing what I do,” he said.
Since reports circulated last year that Maroon 5 was in talks to perform at the Super Bowl, a petition calling for the group to skip the big game has garnered more than 86,000 signatures. If they don’t drop out, the petition is now also urging Maroon 5, as well as Scott and Big Boi, to take a knee during the show in solidarity with Kaepernick and his fellow protesters.
Levine has long expressed his desire to check off the career milestone that is the Super Bowl halftime show, explaining back in 2015 that the band “very actively wants” to play the gig.
He has not made a comment on the upcoming show, only telling Ellen DeGeneres in November that “whoever is lucky enough to get that gig probably is gonna crush it.”