Maroon 5 topped the Billboard charts with the platinum-selling Songs About Jane, the majority of its members were playing under a different moniker: Kara's Flowers. Founded in Los Angeles in September 1995, Kara's Flowers quickly established itself as a popular hometown draw, building a following of loyal fans while its members were still in high school. Classmates Adam Levine (vocals, guitar), Jesse Carmichael (guitar), Mickey Madden (bass), and Ryan Dusick (drums) had yet to stumble upon the neo-soul that would make Maroon 5 such a success, but their hook-laden pop tunes nevertheless caught the attention of Reprise Records, who signed the quartet and sent them into the studio with legendary producer Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Goo Goo Dolls, Michelle Branch). The band's resulting debut, The Fourth World, was released in summer 1997 to lukewarm response, and Reprise responded by cutting the young group from its roster. By this point, however, the bandmembers had all graduated high school, and Levine and Carmichael left the coast to attend the State University of New York. There, the two developed an interest in soul, gospel, and R&B, with Carmichael embracing the keyboard as his primary instrument and Levine changing his vocal technique to mimic the soulful sounds of Stevie Wonder. Returning home, the pair met up with their remaining bandmates, incorporated James Valentine as a second guitarist, and pursued a different direction as Maroon 5. The group would go on to become one of the most popular acts of the 2000s.