Train frontman Pat Monahan has been writing songs for a good long time now -- and with some success, including six Top 20 singles.
But, he says, it doesn't necessarily get easier with experience.
"I think a song is better if it's told in a way no one's ever told it before, and that's a high mark to hit," says Monahan, 44, who co-founded Train during 1994 in San Francisco. "It's very difficult to write and be artistic in today's culture of America, or anywhere, I guess, in civilization that has the Internet because you're exposed to anything and everything. So how are you going to tell a story that hasn't been very told before?
"And it's very difficult because it's all about love -- lost love or gained love or why you're in love or what happened when I left you and all of that. So how do you tell it in a way that hasn't been told 30,000 times already? It's hard."
Monahan says part of his strategy is to "use as many proper nouns as possible" in his songs. But the biggest change of the past few years, which has led to hits such as "Hey, Soul Sister," "If It's Love," "Marry Me" and "Drive By," has been a new perspective on balancing his musical ambitions with real-life concerns.
"Let's face it; what you and I do, or what anyone does for work, it doesn't compare to spending 15 minutes with someone that you feel you were born to be with," Monahan explains. "I think music is very important. It changed my life. I needed music to survive, and maybe on some level I provide a bit of that for someone out there.
"But when you pull it away and the next generation of people take over and all you have is decency and friendships and love, that's what's important. So I learned you can't do (music) at the expense of those other things, but if you have both they can really enrich each other."
Train, the Script and Gavin DeGraw perform at 7 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $29.50-$75 pavilion, $20 lawn with a $60 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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