Groups break-up. Some members return to the real world, get day jobs, while others pick up the pieces and carry on. The Apostles, with guitarists Rob Hotchkiss and Jim Stafford, were looking for the big L.A. break and coming up empty.
Meanwhile, singer Patrick Monahan left Erie, PA, for wondrous Tinseltown. That adventure resulted in a chance meeting with Hotchkiss who suggested they work as a duo. But the coffee-house circuit didn't cut it, so Hotchkiss went back to his Apostle comrades and got Stafford and bassist Charlie Colin to join. Scott Underwood, Colin's good friend, was enlisted on drums and Train was on its way in '94. The group then left L.A. and settled in San Francisco to build their sound in a more laid-back atmosphere.
By '97 Train had attracted Columbia Records' attention and toured as an opening act for Barenaked Ladies, Blues Traveler and Counting Crows. Their self-title debut came out in '98 and rode the success of "Meet Virginia." "Drops of Jupiter" with "Respect," "She's On Fire" and the emotion laden title track arrived in '01. Hotchkiss departed prior to '03 release, "My Private Nation." The following year, concert CD, "Alive At Last," dropped.
Train's first studio album in two-and-a-half years, "For Me, It's You," was produced by longtime collaborator Brendan O'Brien and featured former Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt and keyboardist Brandon Bush, who had been part of Train's touring band.
Groups usually run out of songs, chances and time. Then they fade away. Some lucky ones make an unexpected comeback. Train rose from the dead with "Hey Soul Sister," a hit from their '09 album "Save Me, San Francisco" ("Hey Soul Sister," was released as a single in early '10). The song got the group more ink (and sales) than they'd had since their "Meet Virginia"/"Drops Of Jupiter" days.
"Hey Soul Sister" had a phenomenal run. The song was the most downloaded iTunes song of '10, the best-selling single in Columbia Records history, and was certified by the RIAA as quintuple platinum. In addition, it was used in the commercial to launch Samsung's 3D television during the Oscars.
"Marry Me," the third single from "Save Me, San Francisco," only reached #34 on the Billboard Hot 100. That wouldn't count for much if not for the fact that the song marked the first time in Train's career that they had three consecutive singles land on the Billboard Hot 100 ("Hey, Soul Sister" and "If It's Love" were the other two). Both "If It's Love" and "Marry Me," went gold. That and, of course, "Hey Soul Sister" pushed "Save Me, San Francisco" to #17 on the Billboard 200.
Monahan joined Country star Martina McBride for a duet of "Marry Me" at the '12 ACM Awards. What made this duet a bit different was that Christina Davidson and Frank Tucci, a couple from New Jersey, got married during the performance. It was McBride's idea (to give credit or cringe where it's due).
The songs for "California 37," Train's sixth album, were written as the group toured in support of "Save Me, San Francisco." "I didn't spend 3 months or 5 months writing, I just wrote throughout the course of the last 3 years," said Monahan. The album was recorded in L.A. and San Francisco.
"Drive By," the set's lead single, peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and went gold. "California 37" debuted at #4 on the Billboard 200 with first-week sales of 76,000 copies.
In July, '13, Train demanded that Family First New Zealand, an organization that opposed same sex marriage, refrain from the unauthorized use of "Marry Me" from its "Protect Marriage" website.
And in a related action, Train backed out of a scheduled performance at the Boy Scouts of America's 2013 National Scout Jamboree, citing the controversy over BSA's policy on gays.
A little later, Underwood posted a message announcing his departure, after twenty years, to pursue writing, producing, and other music-related ventures. He was replaced by Drew Shoals.
"Bulletproof Picasso" arrived in September, '14. The set peaked #5 on the Billboard 200 before dropping to #31 the following week. It was Train's first album without Underwood.
So what's Led Zeppelin's best album? And what does this have to do with Train? Well, the two questions are intertwined. "Train Does Led Zeppelin II" dropped in '16.
The album was a song by song recreation of Zeppelin's sophomore set. "Our favorite band is Led Zeppelin, and they made a huge impression on our lives musically," said Monahan.
2001 Drops Of Jupiter
2003 My Private Nation
2006 For Me, It's You
2009 Save Me, San Francisco
2012 California 37
2014 Bulletproof Picasso
2016 Train Does Led Zeppelin II
Train has an acoustic/electric blend that lends itself to mid-tempo songs. Sing-along melodies, reasonably intelligent lyrics, Monahan's expressive vocals and smart arrangements are all part of Train's tool kit.