Train's two-year hiatus after touring to support 2006's "For Me It's You" "probably saved the band and prolonged the life of the band," according to guitarist Jimmy Stafford.
"It was a good break," says Stafford, who regrouped with singer Pat Monahan and drummer Scott Underwood in 2008 to record Train's fifth album, "Save Me, San Francisco," which comes out Tuesday. "At the time I was a little concerned because we've just been a really hard-working band since the beginning. It's been a constant cycle of recording non-stop, so it's hard to all of a sudden slam on the breaks. It freaked me out a little.
"But sometimes you have to take a step back from what you have to really appreciate what you have. I think the fans needed a break from the consistent schedule we were doing, the constant touring and recording. It gave the band a break from each other, too, and we cam back just totally feeling revitalized and re-energized and really appreciating what we have."
Stafford says that because of the break, Train considers "Save Me, San Francisco" "a comeback record...It's kind of like we're re-introducing the band to everybody. We have to go out there and win back our core fans and also...expand our audience with new fans." To do that Train stripped its lineup back to the three remaining founding members, along with some adjunct musicians, brought in new management and a new producer (Martin Terefe) and wrote about 80 songs -- ultimately recording 14 -- with writers such as OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and Better Than Ezra's Kevin Griffin. The track "I Got You," meanwhile, incorporates liberal elements of the Doobie Brothers staple "Black Water."
"We just wanted to get back to our roots on this record," Stafford explains. "We wanted to do things a little more stripped-down like our first album and get back to the whole San Francisco vibe, which is were the band originally came from. And it's working out great. We've got the same energy and excitement that we had on the first album. Everybody's jsut on the same page and really excited."
Stafford -- who wrote a novel, "The Guitar On the Wall," during the hiatus -- says Train expects to tour well into 2010, including trips to Europe and Australia and a first-ever visit to Japan where the album's first single, "Hey, Soul Sister," is doing well. The group is currently touring North America with Uncle Kracker.