Train will kick off the U.S. leg of its California 37 tour Thursday at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre. This is the first tour since the band released its 6th album, “California 37,” which features the hit “Drive By.”
Train’s lead singer, Pat Monahan, spoke to the Observer about the new album and tour. Quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.
Q. Charlotte is the first stop on the tour where Scott Underwood, the drummer, will be marrying a couple on stage during the song “Marry Me.” What inspired the band to do this?
We get requests on a daily basis from fans who want to propose on stage, or who want us to sing that song at their wedding. We kept having to say no, so we finally thought, “What if one of us was ordained? Then we can actually do both.” So Scott got ordained online. We’re really excited to do this for our fans.
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Q. The band has been around since 1994. How do you guys update your sound while staying true to your audience?
The common thread is that I’ve written these lyrics from the beginning. The essence of Train, at least lyrically, is this message of love and hope, so we just freshen up the music over time. If Train is great at something, I think we’re great at making music that families can all love. I want to think that a 10-year-old and a 60-year-old and everyone in between can come to our shows and have a great time.
Q. You guys have included covers on your tours. How do you choose which songs to cover?
It’s not easy. It’s actually more work than most other decisions, because we can play anything. There is a lot of debate and discussion that goes into it. But at the end of the day, we just want to make sure that the song sends a message that we like. We used to perform Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” and we loved that song because it appealed to everybody. But for this new tour we had to update it. So we’re actually going to cover a song by Sly and the Family Stone. It’s great, and the band just crushes this song.
Q. You released a solo album during the band’s hiatus. Are there any plans for future solo albums?
One of the reasons my solo album was not a massive success was that my reason for doing it was to escape from the band. Now, if I’m going to release a solo album, the reasons behind it would be to explore a different aspect of me as a singer. Yes, I definitely want to make another solo album, but I’m not sure when.
Q. What are you most looking forward to on this tour, after almost 20 years of touring?
I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of familiar faces out in the crowd. We don’t have, and have never had, fans who are like, “Hey, we want to rip the shirt off from your body”. Our fans are more likely to say, “Hey your music has changed my life for the better.” When someone says something like that, they’re also changing my life for the better, because that makes me want to continue to do this. It’s a friendship. We have the coolest fans I can imagine having.