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Train, Maroon5 make for smooth summer touring partners

for Journal Register Newspapers

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If management had its way, Train and Maroon 5 would actually have been touring together in 2010.

But it was not to be — until this year.

“We all got too busy too quick and there hadn’t been enough time to plan it out, so we couldn’t do it,” recalls Train frontman Pat Monahan. “And then a year later things worked out for all of us.” But after last year’s mixed fortunes at the box office, a concerted effort was made to make the pairing happen this summer.

“The touring business took such a hit last year that I think a lot of people were afraid to even go out this year,” Monahan notes. “So it turned out to be a good idea, because this tour has been not just fun, but it’s doing really well.”

It’s not too hard to figure out why the pairing is successful. Train rolls in with a batch of hits including “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” and the Grammy Award-winning “Calling All Angels,” while its 2009 album “Save Me, San Francisco” was a comeback effort that’s spawned the five-times platinum, ukulele-driven Top 5 smash “Hey, Soul Sister.” Maroon 5, meanwhile, has seven Top 10 singles — including “This Love,” “She Will be Loved” and the chart-topping “Makes Me Wonder” — from its three albums, two of which are multiplatinum.

“We get along great, and we’re having a really fun time,” Monahan says. “Train and Maroon 5 are really like San Francisco and Los Angeles; we’re the same state, yet we’re really different. So you get both the south and the north parts of the state, musically, and it all fits together on radio — if radio was California.”

Maroon 5, meanwhile, is also riding a bounce from TV thanks to frontman Adam Levine’s star-making turn as a celebrity judge on NBC’s “The Voice,” which has proven to be as beneficial to the band as it has been for the singer.

“We were really nervous about the show,” says guitarist James Valentine. “It didn’t seem very cool to us when we first heard about it, and we were really worried.

“But it turned out to be such a great thing. You’re exposed to a whole new audience, and now every day somebody comes up to me and says, ‘I didn’t really know your band, but then I saw Adam on the show and I went back and bought the records, and I really like them.’ So it’s been great.”

And while the rest of Maroon 5 is not shy about giving Levine “a lot of grief now that he’s a reality TV star,” the guitarist says, the show also gave the band its new single — “Moves Like Jagger,” a collaboration with Levine’s fellow judge Christina Aguilera that the troupe performed on the June 21 episode of the show and has become “a great addition to our live set, too.”

“It’s a lot of fun to play,” Valentine says of the Top 10 “Moves Like Jagger.” “It’s kind of exciting just in that there can be that fast of a turnaround and that you can put out a song that fast, and we’re so happy that people have been responding to it.

“We were thinking about maybe just saving it for our next record, but there was this opportunity to put it out and play it on ‘The Voice,’ so we thought, ‘Let’s just throw this out to the world,’ and it’s really been exploding.”

Both Maroon 5 and Train are, in fact, already thinking about their respective next albums. Valentine says that after several-year gaps between its last two releases, his band hopes to put out its next album “sooner rather than later ... and hopefully have something out by next year, earlier next year.”

The group has mobile studio equipment on the road as well as recording software in its laptops, and the guitarist says “we have literally hundreds of ideas that can become Maroon 5 songs” in hand.

Train, meanwhile, is “about 75 or 80 percent done with writing the next album,” according to Monahan, who expects the group to be in the studio by November or December with producer Butch Walker. If all goes well, a new single will be out in February, with an album following in March or April.

“We all feel like it’s an evolution from (‘Save Me, San Francisco’),” Monahan notes. “I think we’re cautiously optimistic that this will not just be a continuation but will be even better than that. We feel like we’re following up our most successful work.”

And after the success of “Hey, Soul Sister,” the new batch of material already includes a ukulele song in the track “The Least I Can Do,” though Monahan acknowledges some a bit of a split in the Train camp over whether the group should return to that particular musical well.

“The truth is that everybody has basically warned us, ‘Please don’t put the ukulele on the record,’ but I struggle with that,” Monahan says. “That song is super islandy and I love it, and (ukulele) just feels right for it. So I don’t know what the rules are going to be with the ukulele, but you put on whatever feels right.”

Until it’s studio time, the two groups will continue their summer tour, which has gone well despite a couple of glitches. They were scheduled to play this week at the Indiana State Fair before last weekend’s tragic stage collapse; the show was moved to the Conseco Fieldhouse arena, with proceeds going to the Indiana State Fair Remembrance Fund.

And original opening act Gavin DeGraw has been off the tour since early August, when he was attacked in New York’s East Village. He returns on Aug. 24. “It was just a huge bummer because everyone was having a great time and it was a great show,” says Valentine. “Of course, it’s been a horrible ordeal for (DeGraw), but we’re looking forward to having him back out with us.”

Monahan and Valentine, meanwhile, have been busy trying to fit a game of tennis into their travels — “even though he’s going to school me,” Monahan predicts. But Valentine, who plays regularly on the road, isn’t taking that for granted.

“I know a lot of guys who roll like that, and they turn out to be pretty good,” he notes with a laugh. “Maybe that’ll start to cause some bad blood between the bands if he beats me, y’know?

Train, Maroon 5 and Nikki Jean perform at 7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 21, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are sold out. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com for more information.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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