The members of Train must have thought they were dreaming when bandmate Pat Monahan called them late last summer about a new track that had popped into his head. "We had made our record already, and we were all back home, and Pat called and said, 'Man, you have to hear these lyrics I came up with,'" recalls drummer Scott Underwood. "I guess he woke up from a dream and had the song and the melody and a whole concept in his head. The next thing you know, we're all listening to Pat's demo tape of that song, and it was really obvious right away it was a great song."
Not just great, but crucial; the song was "Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me)," which became the title track for Train's sophomore album and a single that's currently garnering multiformat airplay around the country. And it was none other than Columbia Records President Donnie Ienner who directed the quintet to record the song post-haste — and to have famed orchestral arranger Paul Buckmaster, who has worked with Elton John and David Bowie, add strings to it.
"I guess there's a reason why [Ienner] is who he is," Underwood says with a laugh. "There have been times when we've been a little frustrated with him in the past, but that was before we knew how right he is. I have to admit, he knows what he's doing. And it's fun to have two radio hits right now, because then you have two high points in the show instead of just one."
So does Train, says Underwood. Working with producer Brendan O'Brien, the quintet carefully side-stepped sophomore pressures, mostly because there was a plethora of material to choose from that Train had written while touring to promote its debut and its first hit, "Meet Virginia." And though Underwood acknowledges that "the possibility of having your career end early is always looming," he and his bandmates think the Train ride still has some track left to travel.
"We really weren't worried about being radio-friendly or not, or trying to be artistic," he says. "We just kind of write a bunch of songs. But we think that [Drops of Jupiter] truly reflects all five members of the band. On the first record, the band was about a year and a half old, and the primary writers were Pat and Rob [Hotchkiss]. I don't think we all got to really express our individual voices this much, and on this one there are strong elements of everyone."
After its current headlining tour, Train plans to spend most of the summer overseas before returning in the fall to tour with Matchbox Twenty.