Train's summer Picasso At The Wheel Tour is offering the San Francisco band a chance to rekindle one relationship, with Matt Nathanson, and start a new one with the members of the Fray.
"Matt's a good friend," Train frontman Pat Monahan says by phone from the group's tour bus. "We haven't toured with Matt since the Maroon5 co-headline tour we did five years ago. And with the Fray, we've never toured with them before. I've known the guys from the Fray for a long time, and they're just real sweet guys from Colorado.
"So it's a lot of fun."
The same can be said for being in Train these days, according to Monahan. The group -- best known for hits such as "Drops of Jupiter" and "Calling All Angels" -- has been around since 1993, releasing selling more than 10 million albums and 30 million songs worldwide and winning three Grammy Awards. At this juncture only Monahan and guitarist Jimmy Stafford remain from the original lineup, the singer says the current configuration is "the best sounding" version of Train yet.
"It's the most cohesive, lovely version of the band ever," Monahan, 46, reports. "There are always gonna be a couple of fans, like, from the first record, who are like, 'Dude, that's not Train.' But the alternative is Train does not exist. It's kind of like getting older; you might not want to, but there's only one other path, right?"
There will be new music coming down the track from Train in the near future, too. The group has recorded a holiday album, tentatively titled "Christmas In Tahoe," for releases this fall. And after touring Monahan says the band will be putting down the hammer on its eighth album and follow-up to last year's "Bulletproof Picasso," though he plans "on inviting people to come out and write with me all summer" to get a start on new material.
"That's something I did on the (2009) 'Save Me, San Francisco' record," explains Monahan, who also hosts podcasts from the parking lots of some of Train's shows. "I wrote with everybody. You could've jsut been a neighbor down the street and I'd be like, 'Cool, let's do it,' 'cause you never know where the magic lies, and it's all in a combination of people being in a room together."
Train, The Fray and Matt Nathanson
8 p.m. Wednesday, July 1.
DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.
Tickets are $29.50-$79.50 pavilion, $29.50 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack.
Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.
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