Though Train is still rolling with the success of 2009's "Save Me, San Francisco" and its Top 5 hit "Hey, Soul Sister," frontman Pat Monahan can't wait to start working on the group's next effort.
"I feel incredible -- not just motivated but like I've found this special place in myself as a writer," Monahan tells Billboard.com. "I also feel like this means that people want to hear more Train music, and that gets me excited. I want to do that. I want to create something cool."
It may be awhile before Train gets to do that, however. With a second single, "If It's Love," currently on the ascent, the group is now on the road opening for John Mayer until Aug. 11, after which it's eyeing a headlining run in North America through September, European dates in October, a South American run in November and holiday shows back home in December. Australia -- where "Save Me San Francisco's" title track is likely to be a single -- and Asia are set for the new year.
Nevertheless, Monahan says he's already spoken with Columbia Records executives about "who would be the right person to produce the next Train record," and he's started to work on new material. "I've written a couple of songs by myself and with a couple of other dudes," he reports. "I don't have any time to do anything now, but when I do have a minute I just try to pull out whatever I've got inside me. I think by February I've really got to take a couple weeks off and write. It's kind of like a cleansing; even if I don't get much good material, I just need to do it."
The best thing, Monahan adds, is that he's certain Train will stay on track and make that next album, which wasn't the case while the group was on a self-imposed hiatus before making "Save Me, San Francisco."
"We were having some problems as a band," Monahan recalls. "I feel like we had the wrong people involved in our lives, from the guys that we were on stage with to management. We knew we were on a road to being one of those bands that, like many of our friends, didn't exist anymore or was just out there playing our old hits at the occasional festival, and that wasn't really what we wanted. We had to stop being afraid to say what we were thinking and go, 'Look, our careers, our livelihood is on the line here. Here's what I want. What do you guys want?' And we all wanted the same thing. We just needed to go through a lot of changes."
In the wake of "Save Me, San Francisco's" success, the group has also launched the Train Wine Club, which was the brainchild of guitarist Jimmy Stafford. The group is currently dialoguing with fans about vino at trainwineclub.com, and it plans to launch a monthly subscription that will include two bottles that Stafford picks from California wineries and an mp3 download of a recent Train concert.
Monahan quit drinking 15 years ago -- "Because I was a mess," he says with a laugh -- but he likes the idea of connecting with fans through the wine club. "It's amazing how many people are so excited about it -- even more than the record, sometimes," the singer says. "They want to share what they love, too, so it gives us a chance to check each other's likes and dislikes out. I still love the tradition of the love of wine, and I smell every glass of wine my wife drinks, so I vicariously love wine through my wife."