Former San Franciscan Pat Monahan and his Grammy-winning rock band Train will celebrate their achievements in style at 6 p.m. June 25 with their first livestream concert on the Dreamstage Live platform. Their accomplishments are plenty: Train’s double-platinum sophomore album “Drops of Jupiter,” 20 this year, has been reissued in vinyl and an expanded CD. Its 2009 hit “Hey Soul Sister” earned Recording Industry Association of America Diamond status, representing 10 million or more in sales or stream equivalents, and its Save Me, San Francisco Wine Co. has introduced a limited-edition 2018 Cabernet Sauvignon for its 10th anniversary. We spoke with him from his adopted home in Seattle.
In our Zoom-interview era, folks have curated what’s visible on the bookshelves behind them. What’s on yours?
My manager has a picture of Hemingway, shirtless, holding a shotgun, which is wild. But I have a very boring mantel behind me. But we finally got the vinyl of “Drops of Jupiter” printed, so I just put three of those albums on top of the mantel. But that’s it. And the vinyl was never released, so this is the first time that it has been.
You have a turntable, of course. How great does it sound?
You know, when we recorded it, it was always analog, so it always sounded pretty great. But now anything on vinyl sounds warmer, and like you’re a kid again in your dad’s living room with the smells of Scotch on his breath. But it always sounded pretty good. I think when Brendan (O’Brien, producer) recorded it onto two-inch tape, it made it sound great right out of the gate, and then we turned it into digital.
Remember those long skinny boxes that CDs back then used to come in? Things certainly have changed in two decades.
I mean, so much. And now with streaming? I remember being around country music artists that had been successful early on, and they were mad at iTunes. And I was like, “Well, you’re gonna be really mad at what’s coming next!”
I’d totally forgotten how much the “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)” title track was rooted in the unexpected early death of your mother.
Yeah. I was 30, and my mom was 68. So yeah, it hurt. Because she hadn’t really experienced any real success from me. I never got a chance to buy my mom a house, or a car, or do anything to say thank you. So that was tough.
And angry fans misinterpreted its lyrics as you singing “Van Halen is overrated”?
And that’s the greatest thing in my life, because I got to meet — and play golf with — Eddie Van Halen a few times, and Eddie was so warm and sweet. And like, man, I really miss that guy. We were starting to be good friends. So we had a fun, weird little connection with that misinterpretation.
Your winery is based here. How often do you get back to San Francisco?
Oh, I’m in San Francisco a lot. My friends are all in the Bay Area, and my heart is in San Francisco. But years ago, when I was living there, we did a run of dates we called a Residency Tour, and we’d play four nights in S.F., four nights in New York, four nights wherever. And we did one in Seattle and I met my wife. So I live in the Seattle area, and this is where I have to raise my children and have as normal a life as possible, because without COVID, I’m on the road 200 to 300 days a year. And for me to ask my wife to live in San Francisco just wouldn’t be fair for how often I’m away.
”Hey Soul Sister” going Diamond is pretty amazing, though.
Yeah! And you know, the weirdest part is, my manager said it’s only the 46th song, ever, to become Diamond. Some have passed 30 million or more. But 10 million, man? That’s pretty cool.
The highest compliment I can pay you is, whenever people are walking through Target and a Train song comes on, it just makes everybody feel good.
Oh, thanks! You know, in the beginning of Train’s career, there was an article in the SF Weekly or something that said, “OK, all you fans of Abercrombie & Fitch — we got your band!” And at the time, I took it as a cut. But as time goes on, and we’re in Bed, Bath & Beyond, I’m like, “Yeah, OK, I can back that!” We’ve always just had fans that…I don’t know…were just like us, I guess. Just like me, you know? And I don’t mind.
Tickets to Train’s “Soul Vacation” livestream at 6 p.m. June 25 are $25; go to https://dreamstage.live/event/train for details.