Train was formed in 1994 with the collective belief that if you write and perform great songs, people will listen. The band’s self-titled debut album was produced by Train and Curtis Mathewson and mixed by Counting Crows guitarist David Bryson (with the exception of “If You Leave,” which was produced and mixed by Matt Wallace). The album showcases the band’s strong, honest songwriting, great musicianship and straightforward approach to music. Lead singer Patrick Monahan says, “The whole band is involved in the writing of the music. We inspire one another, in a very collaborative, mutual way.”
The result is an album which ranges from the eccentric and flirtatious “Meet Virginia” to the serious and reflective “Blind.” Patrick, who writes all the lyrics, goes on to say, “The inspiration comes from everywhere. It’s not a single event that inspires me: a person might inspire me or maybe it’s their personality. ‘Meet Virginia’ is about several people and ‘Free’ is about the difficult things, the grass-is-always-greener story.”
The core of the band was created when Rob Hotchkiss, the former lead singer of a Los Angeles band called The Apostles, befriended Patrick. Patrick and Rob, armed with a guitar and two strong voices, started playing every cafe in San Francisco, sometimes two a night. Eventually, wanting to expand to a full band, the duo found three new members to complete the quintet: “We recruited Rob’s former Apostles bandmates: Jimmy Stafford (lead guitar), and Charlie Colin (bass). Charlie introduced us to his friend Scott Underwood (drums), who rounded out the line-up.”
Believing that hard work yields results, the newly-founded Train spent their first two years together writing, recording, and performing around San Francisco. The quintet has been rocking northern California ever since, playing everything from little-known venues across the state to major national venues opening for such diverse acts as the Counting Crows, Blues Traveler, Better Than Ezra, Cracker, the Barenaked Ladies, Big Head Todd & the Monsters and the Neville Brothers. The band recently sold out The Fillmore, San Francisco’s most prestigious venue.
Train has been crisscrossing the country in support of their debut release, all in the hope of fulfilling the prophetic quote of J. Poet from the San Francisco Chronicle who says, “This Train is bound for glory.” The broad appeal of Train’s powerful songs and stage presence has generated a great deal of interest from both fans and the music industry in a short amount of time. The band says, “We enjoy the road. When you’re on the road, you get that instant gratification. Every day, you get that ‘hey you’re great, keep doing this.’ People scream and ask for your autograph. Those are the things we’ve been dreaming about since we were kids.”
Since the release of Train on Aware/Columbia Records on February 24, 1998, the band has been picking up steam in a serious way. By December 1998, the album’s sales had increased some 300% over its debut numbers and, as the band continues touring and their single, “Free” (featured on Fox Television’s hit series “Party Of Five”) generates coast-to-coast radio play, Train is moving to the tune of some 2,000 copies per week. In February 1999, Train began a series of tour dates with Better Than Ezra.