Though still on the road -- with Maroon 5 -- celebrating the success of its gold-certified comeback album "Save Me, San Francisco" (2009), Train is also "about 75 or 80 percent done with writing the next album," according to frontman Pat Monahan.
"As exciting as it is to be playing in front of tens of thousands of people every night," Monahan tells Billboard.com, "it's really exciting to know that we have an album that's kind of ready to go as soon as we get off tour. We all feel like it's an evolution from ('Save Me, San Francisco'). Definitely we're moving in the right direction, so we're really psyched. This is a great time for us."
Monahan says he and bandmates Scott Underwood and Jimmy Stafford will likely take "a little break" after Train comes off the road in mid-September and then start recording in November or December with Butch Walker producing. The group hopes to have a new single out in February, with the album to follow in March or April.
"I think we're cautiously optimistic that this will not just be a continuation but will be even better than" "Save Me, San Francisco," Monahan notes. "Before this it's always been the opposite; It was always a struggle of, 'Oh, no, we have to do better than 'Meet Virginia.' Oh no, we have to do better than 'Drops of Jupiter',' and then after that it was 'Calling All Angels.' I think we lost our confidence... and now we feel like we're following up our most successful work."
And, Monahan adds, after the success of "Hey, Soul Sister," the new batch of material already includes a ukulele part in the track "The Least I Can Do," though he acknowledges a bit of a split in the Train camp over whether the group should return to that particular musical well.
"The truth is that everybody has basically warned us, 'Please don't put the ukulele on the record,' but I struggle with that," Monahan says. "That song is super island-y and I love it, and (ukulele) just feels right for it. So I don't know what the rules are going to be with the ukulele, but you put on whatever feels right."
Train is currently riding a fourth single from "Save Me, San Francisco," the album's title track, and doing a bit of a victory lap on the road this summer with Maroon 5. "We get along great, and we're having a really fun time," Monahan says. "Train and Maroon 5 are really like San Francisco and Los Angeles; we're the same state, yet we're really different. So you get both the south and the north parts of the state, musically, and it all fits together on radio -- if radio was California."
Monahan says he and the rest of Train have nothing but respect for Maroon 5 frontman Adam Levine's recent run on NBC's "The Voice."
"The show is so successful, and he's really good at this job," Monahan notes. "But when we talk we just talk about the (concerts) and music." Nevertheless, he adds, "If we were to make friends with Adam Levine and get on his show, then I think that we'd have a better chance of having success with" Train's next album.