With their ubiquitous hit “Drops of Jupiter” continuing to rain down at pop and rock radio, Train show no signs of losing steam anytime soon.
Drops of Jupiter, the band’s second album, has been firmly planted in the top 20 on the Billboard 200 albums chart since its March 27 release, climbing from #18 to #15 this week. Two more music videos are scheduled to hit the air soon, and a tour with Matchbox Twenty kicks off next week.
“It’s really incredible,” guitarist Jimmy Stafford said from his San Francisco home shortly after returning from a tour of Europe. “From the time our record came out, I’ve seen acts like Aerosmith and Janet [Jackson] hit the charts big for a few weeks and then slide their way down, but we just seem to stay up there. I don’t know, maybe we’re filling some sort of void by providing a different flavor from what’s out there.”
When they start the Matchbox Twenty tour, Train will set up a four-track recorder in their dressing room so they can work on new material. But don’t expect the band to write its entire next record on the road.
“We’ll come up with a lot of ideas, but we don’t necessarily finish anything or even want to finish anything,” Stafford said. “Because if we finish something, we’re gonna want to play it, and that’s not good right now. We’re out there promoting this record and it’s too early to start thinking about the next one.”
At this point it’s also too early to tell what the next Train record will sound like, Stafford said, but touring the world has instilled in the band an international vision that might rub off on future offerings.
“We tape all our soundchecks, and when we were in Mexico, just being there made our stuff have a little bit of a Latin groove to it,” he said. “It was really fun, and it sounded great. I’m not saying any of that’s gonna come out in the end, but in every country we play we’re hearing sounds we’ve never heard before, and we are definitely being influenced by that.”
At the moment, most program directors seem far too consumed with “Drops of Jupiter” to think about new Train tracks. The song is having such a long shelf life that the band is releasing a second video for the cut. This one’s a concert clip shot in June at the Warfield in the band’s hometown as part of future live DVD (see “Train Keep A-Rollin’ With Live DVD, Tour, Single”).
“The people that are doing the DVD are starting to send us samples of the footage,” Stafford said. “So they sent us ‘Drops of Jupiter’ and we liked it so much we decided to release it basically to give video programmers an option in case there was a certain level of burnout on the first video.”
And just so they’re ready to roll if “Drops of Jupiter” ever loses steam, Train will film a video for their next single, “Something More,” on August 5 and 6 in Toronto. The surreal video will be directed by Nick Brandt (Jewel, Moby) and will feature Train singer Patrick Monahan walking down the street and bumping into a towering ladder next to a skyscraper.
“He starts to climb it and sing,” said Stafford. “As he’s climbing, he’s looks into windows of the skyscraper and sees all these weird things, like a guy putting on women’s makeup and other shots that offer glimpses into the lives of people that seem to need something more.”
Several of the rooms Monahan peers into contain Train jamming away or just hanging out. At the end of the song, the singer climbs through the clouds and into outer space. “The song just seemed to call for something surreal,” Stafford said. “Originally, we were thinking of using animation, but then we’ve been seeing that done quite a bit lately and we wanted something a little different.”
Lest the life of Train seem too much like a dream, the band was brought back to earth last month when Monahan and Stafford were arrested as the plane they were on landed in Italy. No, they didn’t pull a Peter Buck and smash crockery. They merely whipped out their portable electronic devices without knowing it’s forbidden on Italian airlines.
“I was just listening to my Walkman and Pat was doing some stuff on his computer,” marveled Stafford. “When we got off the plane there were 20 Italian police that took us into custody and detained us. They questioned us and threatened us. But then they found out we were American rock stars there to do a television show the next night, so they lightened up a bit and let us go.”
But that’s not the only recent frustration for Train. Not so long ago they were forced to provide separate riders for the road crew when their organically pure spread was tainted with junk food.
“All these candies and cookies and stuff were showing up on the bus,” Stafford said. “So now they can eat their crap, and we get our avocados and soy milk.”
He laughed and stated the obvious: “I guess we’re not your typical rock and roll band. The only bad thing on our rider, aside from a bottle of wine, is [the energy drink] Red Bull. We get a case of Red Bull every night. I think most bands drink it with vodka, but we just drink it straight.
“I guess there will probably never be a ‘Behind the Music’ on us.”