Train singer talks touring, songwriting for new album 'AM Gold': 'It felt more authentic'

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Train lead singer Pat Monahan called on actor and “Masked Singer” panelist Ken Jeong to help announce the band’s tour in support of its 11th studio album, “AM Gold,” in a funny YouTube video. The band's upcoming tour features Jewel and Blues Traveler, the former a past “Masked Singer” winner who also contributes to the album, due out Friday.

So would the “Hey, Soul Sister” singer ever consider joining the Fox competition?

“I would love to be on the panel,” Monahan, 53, tells USA TODAY from his home studio in Washington state. “But the only time I would want to dress up like that is at a family party.”

Monahan adds a never-say-never caveat toward the end of his response, but ultimately he’d “rather sit next to” Ken than take the stage. As for Jewel, she won Season 6 of the show in December. She and Train are under the same management company, so collaborating on each other’s albums (Jewel sings on “Turn the Radio Up,” Monahan appeared on her single “Dancing Slow”) was an easy match.

“She’s always been one of the few simple people out there,” says Monahan, who has known Jewel for two decades. “I don’t mean that in anything but a positive way. She doesn’t make things complicated. It’s a grown-up attitude, and it’s hard to find in entertainment.”

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Train also enlisted Sofía Reyes on “AM Gold” for the song “Cleopatra.”

Train
Train

Monahan says the coronavirus pandemic delayed the band’s new album a couple of years. “The one good thing that the lockdown has done is provided me with time to figure out how to run my studio,” Monahan says, noting he had to learn how to operate the equipment. His bandmates Jerry Becker and Matt Musty taught him, remotely. And their collaborations didn’t stop there.

“I wrote virtually with my bandmates instead of professional writers from London and Nashville and New York,” he says. “I think it ended up being a much better album because of it.”

Monahan recalls making a lot of trips to Los Angeles for the LP before the lockdown. Soon after connecting with Becker and Musty over Zoom, he not only realized how excited they were about songwriting but also how good they were at it. He has known Becker “longer than everybody, not just everybody in the band, but everybody that used to be in the band.” And he credits Musty with bringing a more current sound to the album, which is Train’s first new body of all-original work in five years.

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“A lot of people, after you reach a certain time, you try and write with the guys and girls that have the names out there,” he says. “They’re doing great work and their names are on Justin Bieber songs, and I think that was a walk down the wrong road for me. I didn’t realize it because I was loving the songs, but then when these other songs started to happen, it felt more authentic.”

Monahan says there are more “reflective and breakup songs” on the new release compared with past albums. “Running Back” was partly inspired by former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch, whom Monahan calls “the most authentic friend I have.” Then there’s “Fake Flowers,” which includes the jab “The only thing real about you is your lies.”

“That song really meant a lot to me,” he says. “I originally wrote that for a musical we’re writing. And the song just has become so important to me that I was like, ‘This can’t be for the musical.’”

The musical is an adaptation of the 2013 movie “Begin Again,” which starred Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. It also featured Adam Levine, whose song “Lost Stars” from the film earned an Oscar nomination. Monahan is working with Becker and Musty on the project and hopes to eventually bring it to Broadway. But before the musical sees any stage, the three will hit the road for 38 shows in support of “AM Gold.” Monahan predicts that the rest of 2022 will be “an amazing year to see live music.”

“If you're not going to go see (our show), go see something,” Monahan says. “Tom Petty and Prince and Meatloaf and all these amazing people aren't here to play music for us anymore. Go find the joy that humans get from live music.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Train singer talks tour return, songwriting for new album 'AM Gold'

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