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Interview:
Train at DTE, 5 Things To Know
 

By Gary Graff
ggraff@digitalfirstmedia.com, @GraffonMusic on Twi

» See more SOUND CHECK

Train rolled out of San Francisco in 1993 and has stayed on the rails ever since, to tune of 10 albums and a batch of hits including “Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me),” “Calling All Angels,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Meet Virginia” and “Drive By.”

It’s mixed some detours along the way, including the holiday album “Christmas In Tahoe” and last year’s “Train Does Led Zeppelin II.” But frontman Pat Monahan and his band came back on track with his year’s “A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat,” a Top 10 set that’s launched the singles “Play That Song,” “Drink Up” and “Lottery” and has the group on the road again for its summer Play That Song Tour...

• Monahan, 48, says his goal with “A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat” was to maintain Train’s relevance in the pop marketplace, including keeping its sound as contemporary as possible. “My job is to try to be current and at my highest level,” the singer says. “When you play music to be competitive in the marketplace the way it is today, you’re writing from the heart but it also has to sound like something current or you’re gonna be dead. When jack White comes out with another record he’s going to have to have some modern sounds or people probably aren’t going to care. It’s hard to compete with Ed Sheeran; I could probably be Ed’s dad, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to be at the same level as Ed Sheeran> I think this record is just as good as an Ed Sheeran album; I love Ed Sheeran, but I think this is a great album, and I think it sounds just as current as he does.”

• Monahan adds that new collaborators such as Neff U (Ron Feemstar) and Idap (William Larsen) helped Train achieve that contemporary sound he craved. “I’d show up with a smile every day, like I was so blessed to be there,” Monahan recalls. “I was super inspired by that attitude. As far as creative people they were just so inspiring. I just loved working with them.”

• “A Girl, a Bottle, a Boat” is Train’s first album without guitarist Jimmy Stafford, leaving Monahan the lone founding member left in the lineup. “Jimmy’s still around,” Monahan says. “He just did our cruise. He does some things but he has a young family, and a couple of years ago we went to Australia and he was like, ‘Man, I just don’t want to do this like you do. I’ve got little kids and I kinda want to spend time with them.’ I have little kids, too, but I’m just so obsessed. I’ve written every lyric and melody in this band since the beginning of it. I just feel like I want to keep making that magic.”

• Train puzzled some fans and other observers by covering Led Zeppelin’s second album in its entirety for release last year. But Monahan says there was a definite purpose behind it. “Doing ‘Led Zeppelin II’ let me show people what a bad-ass band I have,” Monahan explains. “That’s fun for me because they are such high-level musicians, and I don’t get to show that off in other ways unless you come and see us live. Nobody today is talking about rock ‘n’ roll or guitar solos, so this gave us a chance to do that.”

• Monahan also has some surprising ideas for what he’d like to do next. “I wrote so many songs that didn’t make this album, but I think the next thing I’m gonna do is record some new Christmas songs and add those on to (2015’s ‘Christmas In Tahoe’),” Monahan says. “And I want to record a Johnny Mercer cover album. I was thinking about who were the most inspiring writers that inspired me, and he was definitely one of them. And then I want to make a record with a female and then I’ll go write with these other (Train collaborator) guys again. I’m not slowing down, I’ll tell you that.”



If You Go:

• Train O.A.R. and Natasha Bedingfield

• 7 p.m. Sunday, June 25.

• DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township.

• Tickets are $29.50-$79.50 pavilion, $25 lawn with a $75 lawn four-pack.

• Call 248-377-0100 or visit palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff

 



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