The band Train has been a radio chart topper with hits like “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Drops of Jupiter,” and “Meet Virginia.” Train’s new album, “Bulletproof Picasso,” drops this September and only time will tell if another monster hit is on the horizon. Train front man, Pat Monahan, recently stopped by to talk about the new album, the departure of drummer Scott Underwood, and the secret to staying relevant.
Congrats on “Bulletproof Picasso.” Where did that title come from?
It’s actually the title of a song on the album. It’s also, without knowing at the time, a way to describe Train—having dodged bullets all these years and still existing as artists.
“Bulletproof Picasso” is the band’s new album, as well as your 7th studio effort. What I love about Train is the consistency and timeliness of each album. “Bulletproof Picasso” follows the platinum selling, “California 37.” Is there a certain type of pressure that goes along releasing an album after a platinum selling one? What expectations does the band have for this new album?
There’s always an enormous amount of pressure, but it’s all self-induced. We don’t stress about the actual album, but writing this was difficult because we want to do our best work. We also want to make a connection with people. We want to make Train fans psyched, but also earn new fans. And doing that after 20 years of being a band is just not always easy. So the pressure is all about us.
Original Train member, Scott Underwood, recently departed the band. How difficult was the change in regard to learning curve, chemistry, etc.?
We miss Scott. Scott’s a great guy and a great drummer. We think that he’s going to be happier doing what he’s doing, which is expressing himself as an artist and writing and doing that with other artists. So we’re psyched for him. Also, we have a great new drummer named Drew Shoals and he’s a lovely addition. He brings a whole new fire and energy to what we’re doing, as a band that’s been around doing it for a long time. So it’s fun for us, too.
The band has a history of monster hits, including “Hey, Soul Sister,” “Drops of Jupiter,” and “Meet Virginia.” The first single from “Bulletproof Picasso” is “Angel In Blue Jeans,” another song soaring up the charts. Describe your songwriting process. When you sit down to write a song, do you start with music or lyrics or both?
Songwriting is always different. Usually it’s a music piece that inspires melody that inspires a lyric. But it comes in many different ways--like ‘Drops of Jupiter’ was a poem that then became a melody and then became a song. So there’s no right or wrong way to do it, but none of the ways are easy.
Are there any songs on “Bulletproof Picasso” that have a more sentimental meaning than others?
Yeah. There’s a song called ‘Give It All’ and a song called ‘Don’t Grow Up So Fast.’ Those are the two heartstring moments on the record for me, but there may be others for other people.
“Bulletproof Picasso” doesn’t officially come out until September 2014. With it still being a couple months out, how difficult, in this day and age, is it to cut down on illegal downloads and album leaks? Is that something the band is concerned about?
We’re not an album leak kind of band, and with the fact that there are so many ways to get this record, we really care less about how people get it and more about the fact that we hope that they get it. Of course, if they got it on iTunes or something it would benefit us and our record company more in a financial way, but that’s not where we’re at right now. I think, if people stream it, or steal it, or whatever they’ve got to do to get it, I’m glad that they’re going after our record instead of another record, because there are millions of others they could choose from.
The band has been around for 20-years. With music being cyclical and what’s popular today may not be what’s popular tomorrow, how do you stay relevant when the industry continually changes?
This is the hardest thing in the world to do, but our most proud accomplishment. I don’t know how to do it. I just know that young people are the ones to listen to when it comes to music. They are changing the gateway to people’s ears and how people listen to music. Writing with young people and being around them is smart for a band like us, although everyone who co-wrote this record with me is around 60.
Many bands are finding success via pledge platforms like Kickstarter. Does this medium appeal to you and do you see Train ever doing something like this for their fans?
Well, I’m not sure this is doing something for fans as getting back from fans, but I think it’s lovely for people. I’ve been a contributor to people’s Kickstarters because I believe in their music. I think it’s a great platform for some artists. So far, we haven’t had to do that, but if we ever do, then we hope our fans will back it and like the work that we do for them.
Thank you for taking the time. Good luck on the album.
Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He also is the author of the novels, The Extraordinary Life of Shady Gray, Hello Lesbian!, Hello Fabulous!, and Anonymous. Visit him at www.tanamor.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.