Train singer Pat Monahan is proud of the group’s latest album, “Bulletproof Picasso,” but he knows it probably won’t be the kind of hit that the band had with its two previous albums, “California 37” and “Save Me, San Francisco.”
The group has begun its first full U.S. tour in support of “Picasso” and will headline at Taco Bell Arena in Boise on July 22.
The latest album hasn’t had the hit singles (“Drive By” and “Hey, Soul Sister”) that helped take the previous albums to million-plus sales.
“On this record, it was very difficult to pick a single. In fact, I don’t think we picked the right singles,” Monahan says.
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Train is taking another stab at giving “Bulletproof Picasso” renewed momentum. The band released a video for the song “Give It All” on YouTube’s “Soul Pancake” channel in hopes of generating a viral buzz that could lead to wider exposure — maybe even radio play — for the song.
It’s had more than 500,000 views, but Monahan knows it’s a long shot.
“I don’t know what will come of it,” he says. “I’m banking on nothing, but at least people will be able to see this beautiful, incredible video.”
At this point, the popularity of the band’s older material appears to be enough to keep Train on track. And, if history is any indication, the band will come up with more hit singles.
The group’s first big hit was “Meet Virginia,” from the band’s 1998 self-titled debut album. It put Train on the mainstream pop map but had many predicting the group would be a one-hit wonder.
Then the title song from the 2001 sophomore album, “Drops of Jupiter,” was an even bigger hit.
Train struggled to deliver that type of hit again, as two albums, “My Private Nation” and “For Me, It’s You” came and went without singles that could return Train to the top of the charts.
But then, “Save Me, San Francisco” and “Hey, Soul Sister” worked their magic and have put Train back in the spotlight in a big way.
With “Bulletproof Picasso,” Monahan feels he did his best work as a songwriter, creating a diverse album that retained Train’s breezy pop-rock sound, while bringing elements of hip-hop, Motown-ish soul and even a touch of a spaghetti Western sound into the mix.
He says he thinks his growth, particularly as a lyric and melody writer, will lead to even better songs on the next Train album.
But it was also the hardest album to write for Monahan, who teamed up with a variety of outside writers on “Bulletproof Picasso.”
“It was brutal because I would write verses that were great, but the choruses weren’t great,” Monahan said. “Trying to write these songs and then revise them and then re-revise and revise again, that is not what I’m good at. So, it was a big growth record for me.”
In addition to original Train members Monahan and guitarist Jimmy Stafford, the touring lineup will include keyboardist Jerry Becker, bassist Hector Maldonado (they both became touring members in 2009) drummer Drew Shoals (who replaced original drummer Scott Underwood before “Bulletproof Picasso”) and singers Nikita Houston and Sakai.
“We’re going to play probably seven songs from the new record every night,” Monahan said. “But I want to mix it up ...”