Back on track, Train performs Tuesday in Seattle

  • Thu Mar 16th, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

By Alan Sculey / Special to The Herald

The new CD, “For Me, It’s You,” marks the beginning of a new era for Train, the Grammy-winning rock band that plays Tuesday in Seattle.

7:30 p.m. Tuesday at McCaw Hall, Seattle Center. Tickets, $27.50-$37.50 at Ticketmaster, 206-628-0888, www.ticketmaster.com.

It is the first Train studio CD since the departure of guitarist Rob Hotchkiss, who co-founded the group with singer Pat Monahan in 1994 in San Francisco, and bassist Charlie Colin. Hothckiss, who especially early on was a key songwriting contributor in the band, and Colin both left during the course of the band’s previous CD, the 2003 release, “My Private Nation.”

“For Me, It’s You” marks the debut of the revamped Train lineup, which features new members Brandon Bush (keyboards) and Johnny Colt (bass). They join the three remaining original band members: Monahan, guitarist Jimmy Stafford and drummer Scott Underwood.

Fans had reason to be curious how the lineup changes would affect Train and how the new music would match up with the group’s previous output.

But Monahan said he actually felt less pressure – and by extension more at ease – in making “For Me, It’s You” than he did when the original Train lineup began work on the 2003 CD, “My Private Nation.”

“I think our previous album was more of a pressure record for us because coming off of ‘Drops Of Jupiter,’ it was a pretty intense progression between ‘Meet Virginia’ and the popularity of ‘Drops Of Jupiter,’” Monahan said, making light of the huge success of the latter single. “So I think that was where the pressure came in and that’s why we lost a couple of band members.

“It (“For Me, It’s You”) was the most relaxed record we’ve ever made, the easiest record,” he said.

Monahan makes a point about how “Drops Of Jupiter” changed the playing field for Train.

The group’s 1998 self-titled debut had put Train on the map with the popular single “Meet Virginia.” But it was the title song from the next CD, 2001’s “Drops Of Jupiter,” that put Train on a whole new level. A big crossover hit, the song “Drops Of Jupiter” propelled the CD beyond 2 million copies sold and won a Grammy for best rock song.

Despite the inner-band upheaval during the making of “My Private Nation,” Train still delivered a solid CD that featured a hit single, “Calling All Angels,” which earned two Grammy nominations.

Now comes “For Me, It’s You,” and the new Train sounds better than ever on the CD. It features several first-rate songs that fit the group’s trademark melodic mid-tempo sound, including “All I Ever Wanted,” “Cab” and “Give Myself To You.”

Overall, though, “For Me, It’s You” rocks a bit harder, with the songs “Get Out,” “Shelter Me” and a smartly chosen cover of Bob Mould’s “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” especially kicking up the tempo.

It’s a safe bet that as Train tours this spring, Monahan will be focused on his performances on stage. And Monahan for one, likes what he hears on stage.

“I think it’s a different live sound because we began without a keyboard player,” Monahan said. “And with Johnny Colt playing bass, I think he comes from a much more rhythm and blues and rock (background), where the other guys, we all come from a classic rock, Led Zeppelin (place). That’s what we valued as kids. So I think you can hear that in his playing.”