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Perhaps the most characteristic thing about Train is Pat Monahan’s striking voice. With one of the most easily distinguishable voices in rock music, Monahan has led Train from its inception in the mid-1990s to the colossal success of its multi-platinum albums. And while Monahan’s leadership has undoubtedly directed the band towards the worldwide fame it has achieved today, it’s unfair to dismiss the rest of the band as secondary to Train’s success. Every member, whether past or present, has made valuable contributions to shaping the band’s sound over the years,making Train resonate with its fans worldwide.

When Train was formed in 1994, Monahan and co-founder Rob Hotchkiss (guitar) were responsible for most of the songwriting. Monahan and Hotchkiss began as a two-member group, playing in coffeehouses as an acoustic duo before eventually adding new members to the band ~ Jimmy Stafford (guitar), Charlie Colin (bass) and Scott Underwood (drums) ~ and playing as a five-member group. Two years later they flew to New York City to play for executives at Columbia Records, only to be turned down. Not giving up, Train decided to release their debut album independently, and the self-titled album hit the shelves in 1997. Meet Virginia was a runaway hit, and Columbia Records had a change of heart and signed the band.

After a hectic national tour to promote their debut, Train went back to the studio to record their sophomore album with a new producer, Brendan O’Brien (Pearl Jam, Incubus), who turned out to be the perfect match for this still struggling act. The debut single Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me) was an instant success, earning Train praise and fans with every passing day. In just three months, the album was certified platinum, and the song catapulted them into a new league. No longer bit part players in the commercial music stream worldwide, Train were now recognized and appreciated by fans, peers and critics. Drops Of Jupiter (Tell Me) earned them two Grammy Awards ~ Best Rock Song and Best Arrangement.

It seemed as if Train had reached their peak; this level of success would no doubt be difficult to duplicate. Fortunately for the band, duplication was not on the agenda ~ Train have always maintained that they never aim to top the level of success achieved by an album or a single; they aim to release consistently good music. At this time, Train had reached what could possibly be a turning point in the band’s career ~ Hotchkiss was tired of touring and was leaving the band. Stafford, Colin and Underwood had contributed significantly to the songwriting process over the course of the albums Train and Drops of Jupiter, and when Hotchkiss departed in 2002, his exit did not devastate a band known for its eclectic rock/pop/folk sound and soulful lyrics. The band continued its successful run with My Private Nation, another platinum-selling album with the hugely successful Calling All Angels. With O’Brien returning to produce the album, My Private Nation celebrated Train’s credibility as a band that matured with each new release.

Train’s newest release and fourth studio album, For You, It’s Me, once again showcases a band that deserves more appreciation than it already gets. The first single, Cab, has already been a worldwide hit. "Cab is the metaphoric song on the album,” says Monahan. “Everything else seems to the point and literal.” Transport vehicles aside, For Me, It’s You is Train’s most personal album to date and has a special significance for Monahan, who was undergoing several emotional upheavals at the time. “The ‘you’ changes in every song,” says Monahan about the album’s title. “In the title song For Me, It's You, the ‘you’ is the woman I'm in love with. Throughout the record, the ‘you’ is my children or my dear friend who died this year, it's my mother, it's my family, and it's my band. This whole album is about where I've been lyrically for the last couple of years, experiencing what I've had to experience. You don't choose your experiences, they choose you.”

You can read the rest of our feature on Train in the June 2006 issue of The Record Music Magazine available at your local newsagent.


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