Train rolls into town this weekend

May 18, 2017
Train singer Pat Monahan says he’s really excited about the band’s current tour, which comes to Austin this weekend. Mike Coppola/Getty Images for T.J. Martell

Whether it’s one of the band’s early hits like “Meet Virginia” or its recent smash, “Play That Song,” almost everyone knows a Train song.

So when the band rolls into the Austin360 Amphitheater on May 20, you can be sure there will be plenty of folks singing along.

We recently checked in with lead singer Pat Monahan about the band’s 20-plus-year history and what fans can expect at the upcoming show.

Austin360: How are you feeling about the current tour?

Pat Monahan: Up until about a week ago I was pretty nervous because I have high hopes for this tour. I’m the last of seven kids, and I’m a pleaser, so I want everybody to walk away seeing the best version of Train they’ve ever seen. We just did a couple of shows and I was like, “We’re going to be great.” I went from nervous to really excited about week ago.

Your current hit, “Play That Song,” incorporates the melody of “Heart and Soul” (writers Hoagy Carmichael and Frank Loesser are included in its credits). How have people responded to that?

It’s fun for me to see everybody’s different reactions to the melody of “Heart and Soul.” This song leans so young … It’s really cute how that came about, and then how angry older people are that I used the melody. I get it, but I think it’s fun to bring back old music for people who don’t know what it is.

The video for “Play That Song” is so fun. What was the inspiration?

Before “La La Land” there was a movie called “500 Days of Summer.” The director (Travis Kopach) was like, “Man, I got this idea, check it out.”

Are you going to be able to spend much time in Austin?

I always love coming to Austin. I usually don’t have much time, but what I used to do is we would park the tour bus and I would do an Austin run through town, mostly on trails. Some of the best trail running I’ve ever done is in Austin. I remember thinking I was so fast and so in shape and this woman from Austin smoked me. It was really fun to see really cool, great athletes do their thing in Austin.

What are you listening to right now?

I do a radio show on the Pulse called Train Tracks, and I try to play new stuff. One of the things that I was most impressed with this year was these One Direction kids all heading in different directions — it was fun and interesting (to watch).

Your Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. donates proceeds to support Family House, a San Francisco-based nonprofit. What’s new with that?

We have a new wine label that will be available soon in H-E-Bs in Texas — the Drops of Jupiter wine label. I’m excited to see how well that does. Those will benefit our charity.

Are you looking ahead to new music yet?

A couple of years ago we put out “Christmas in Tahoe.” We signed the deal with Amazon, and Amazon was the only one who could sell it for the last two years. Now it’s back in my hands. We’re adding new Christmas songs to it, and we can put it out on Spotify and iTunes. (This afternoon) I’m on my way to record Christmas songs in April.

What’s next for Train?

There’s a lot of goals that I still have. We’ve never had a No. 1 pop song. We’ve never had a No. 1 album. One day being nominated for “album of the year” would be pretty spectacular. We’ve never played (Madison Square) Garden in New York and we’ve never played Wembley in London. Of course, life is good without all that, too.

Why should people come to your show at the Austin360 Amphitheater?

As a band that’s been around for 22 years, this is the best live performance you’ll ever see us having done. The camaraderie between us and the other acts is very honest and genuine. We’re going to have a lot of fun. We’re for families — grandmas and moms and dads and kids of all ages. You’ll all know something that you hear that night.