From track to track, Train keeps the music moving forward

More than two decades in, Train is still on track.

Although “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” and “Hey, Soul Sister” will always be two of the band’s most iconic tunes, Train continues to churn out hit songs, including “Angel in Blue Jeans,” which cracked No. 8 on Billboard’s Adult Top 40 chart as the lead single from the band’s seventh studio album, “Bulletproof Picasso.”

With singles stemming back to the ’90s, it won’t be hard to fill the set list when Train takes the stage Sept. 20 during Kaaboo, a three-day music festival at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

“It sounds like a cool festival,” said Pat Monahan, lead singer and songwriter of the Grammy Award-winning, multiplatinum-selling band. “There’s going to be a lot of cool people that go.”

Train formed in 1993, but frontman Monahan started in music several years earlier.

Born and raised in Erie, Pa., Monahan began his musical career singing with cover band Rogues Gallery in the late ’80s and early ’90s. After the band broke up, Monahan relocated to San Francisco, where he met singer-songwriter Rob Hotchkiss. The acoustic duo played at clubs and coffeehouses before forming a full-fledged rock band in 1993.

Train released its self-titled debut album in 1998. The album went platinum.

“I didn’t have a successful song on the radio until I was 28,” Monahan said.

The band’s even bigger break came in 2001, with the release of Train’s second album, “Drops of Jupiter.” As Train’s first major label record, it’s the band’s best-selling album to date.

The album’s title is derived from “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” its lead single, which was inspired by Monahan’s late mother and became an international hit. The single won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song in 2002.

Train released its next two albums, “My Private Nation” and “For Me, It’s You,” in 2003 and 2006, respectively. After a three-year hiatus, which included a solo album from Monahan, Train’s “Save Me, San Francisco” debuted in 2009. The album included the chart-topping hit, “Hey, Soul Sister.”

Monahan admitted he didn’t expect the song to become the group’s biggest hit, which, he said, is why he doesn’t play a large part in picking singles.

“I just always feel like I’m better at doing the writing and singing,” he said. “I’ll leave all that other stuff up to other people. That’s like picking which child you’ll give a hug to.”

Since then, Train released “California 37” in 2012 and “Bulletproof Picasso” last September.

“This past album, I think, is the best work we’ve done,” Monahan said. “It was a fan favorite, but it certainly didn’t have any hits on it.”

With the band’s summer tour over, Train is working on new projects. The band is set to debut its first Christmas album, which Monahan said will include 12 covers and three original songs. Monahan also recently launched “Train Tracks,” a SiriusXM show on The Pulse.

Fans shouldn’t expect a greatest-hits album anytime soon, however.

“They scare me because when you hear, ‘We made a greatest-hits record,’ congratulations, your career is over,” Monahan said.

Train’s Kaaboo appearance comes about four months after the band stopped in sunny San Diego, at the start of summer. As part of a 45-date tour, the May show featured The Fray and Matt Nathanson at Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista.

“This is the most successful tour we’ve ever been on,” Monahan said. “It was a lot of fun.”

With nearly 90 minutes slated for Kaaboo, Train is sure to share some of the band’s biggest hits as well as new material. Although the band is still finalizing the set list, Monahan said fans should expect to have a good time. “We play things from every record,” he said.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of people that are going to come from all over California to San Diego to see us, just because that will be the last time they can see us for the year,” he added, noting that fans can join Train on the sea for the third annual “Sail Across the Sun” cruise Feb. 11-15 from Miami to Jamaica.

Train is set to take the Zuma Stage at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 20, the final day of Kaaboo.

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