Madden began playing in junior high school, playing in garages along with friends Jesse Carmichael (piano/keyboard) and Adam Levine (singer/guitar). The bands Pearl Jam and Nirvana were among their influences. In 1994, with the addition of Ryan Dusick (drums), the band Kara's Flowers was formed.
After the break-up of Kara's Flowers, Madden attended classes at UCLA. After Madden attended college, the group reformed with the addition of James Valentine (guitar).
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