Full steam ahead

Published 11:22 am Thursday, July 3, 2014

The two remaining original members of Train, Jimmy Stafford and Pat Monahan have been playing together for 20 years. (Submitted photos)

The two remaining original members of Train, Jimmy Stafford and Pat Monahan have been playing together for 20 years. (Submitted photos)

Train still going strong after 20 years

If you’ve been waiting on Train to release a new album, you’re not alone. The members of the band have been waiting, too, and they are looking forward to Sept. 16 when “Bulletproof Picasso” finally comes out.

“It’s a difficult time, touring and waiting until the album is released,” said Jimmy Stafford, guitarist with the band. “We can’t really play a bunch of the new stuff because people aren’t familiar with it yet. We’re dying to play it for somebody. We can’t wait to play it!”

The current tour will bring Train to Mt. Pleasant’s Soaring Eagle Casino on July 10 and to the Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo on July 11. Later this summer, they will be playing two shows at the Ravinia Festival in Highland Park, Illinois. Tickets for those shows can be purchased through www.ticketmaster.com.

“Right now, we’re just doing a lot of promo stuff. A lot of it is just set-up work for the record that will be released in September,” Stafford said. “At the concerts in Michigan, we’re definitely going to be playing the new single. We’re also going to rely heavily on the back catalogue, and maybe play a song or two off the new album.”

That new single, “Angel in Blue Jeans,” has already been released, and it can be heard at www.savemesanfrancisco.com. Last week, the band was in the desert outside of L.A. shooting the video for the song.

“‘Bulletproof Picasso’ is another song on the record, and it could possibly be the second or third single off the new album,” Stafford said. “It’s one of my favorite songs on the album, and it just sounded like a cool name for the record when I heard the lyric.”

Monahan and Stafford, the only two remaining original members of Train, are now embarking on their 20th year of playing together.

“It’s pretty great that, after all these years, people still want to listen to our music,” Stafford said. “I feel like this new record is the best we’ve done. It’s great to know that we’re not just phoning it in. The band is still playing at its best.”

Stafford feels that the upcoming album represents the best of what Train is all about.

“I’ve probably said this about every one of our albums at one time or another, but truly, from start to finish, this is our best batch of songs that we’ve put on an album,” Stafford said. “There are no filler songs. Every one could be a single, and I’m really proud of it.”

When Train isn’t in the studio or on the road, they can often be found supporting their company, Save Me, San Francisco, which takes its name from one of their most popular albums.

“‘Save Me, San Francisco’ was an album that came after taking a three-year break from the music. We didn’t know if anybody would still care about us or want to hear our music,” Stafford explained. “It was kind of a plea to our hometown, to San Francisco, where the band started back in 1994, to ask them to save us—to save our careers.”

San Francisco and the rest of Train’s fans must have heard that plea loud and clear because the response to the album was phenomenal.

“‘Hey, Soul Sister” was a song on the album, and it became such a big hit, we decided to do something for a charity,” Stafford recalled. “We’ve always been involved with charities—mainly ones about kids, but with this, we wanted to focus and make sure the money was really being put to use for the kids and not just going into a big void. The company’s name just seems sort of symbiotic with the album.”

Save Me, San Francisco produces wines and chocolates, and the proceeds from their sales go to supporting Family House. Their mission, according to their website at www.familyhouseinc.org, is to serve “as a home away from home for families of children with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses by providing physical comfort and emotional support, free from financial concerns.”

“A portion from the wine and all of the money from the chocolate goes to Family House,” Stafford said. “It’s really taking off. We sold over one million bottles of wine last year, and we hope to double that this year. It’s a way to give back.”

Another activity Train has been involved in is hosting “Sail Across the Sun,” a music, food, and wine festival that takes place on a ship.

“We started doing the Sail Across the Sun cruise last year,” Stafford said. “You book a cabin, get on a ship with us and a bunch of other bands, and you hang out with us for a week and have a great time.”

With so many different projects going on, Train just keeps on rolling along.

“We’ve been a band for 20 years, and we’re just excited to still be playing to sold-out shows. It’s amazing that people still care about us and love our music,” Stafford said. “We’re super proud of this album and we can’t wait for people to be able to hear it. Hopefully, we’ll put some smiles on some faces.”