Pat Monahan doesn’t want to go home. Train’s Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour with The Script, Gavin DeGraw and Ashley Monroe will come to a close Aug. 14, and Monahan checked in from the road with Radio.com to discuss what he called “the funnest tour we’ve ever had.” He also offered insight into what fans can expect from Train’s next album, some thoughts on songwriting, and the possibility of a country-leaning solo album.
The latter isn’t that out of the question. After all, Monahan has already become a familiar voice to country fans. Monroe guested on the recent Train single “Bruises,” for instance, and the two performed together at a Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum benefit earlier this year. Monahan also sang a duet of his song “Marry Me” with Martina McBride on her album Eleven. Monahan and McBride even performed the song behind an actual wedding ceremony that took place live during the 2012 Academy of Country Music Awards.
Radio.com: Tell us about your Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour. Have fans really been dressing up as mermaids every night?
Pat Monahan: It’s really fun. Our greatest gift is that families like what we do. Kids don’t have to drag their parents and parents don’t have to drag their kids. They all want to come. We try to make it an old school family event. What would people do if they were going to the Grateful Dead or The Rocky Horror Picture Show? We called the tour the Mermaids of Alcatraz Tour to give it a little edge and include guys. Hundreds of people are dressing up every night and it’s so fun. They come up onstage for “Mermaid” and the winners get upgrades of their concert tickets. I love seeing that because some of these kids are way back on the grass and then they get to be way up front.
How do you select which fans make it on stage during your performance of “Mermaid?”
We actually have one guy who we hired to be the judge of it. He has a booth, it’s the mermaid booth. You sign up; he’ll take pictures of you. Most of these events there’s an obvious winner; there’s a family that’s really decked out. The other day there was a guy with a convict outfit on with stripes. It looked like he just escaped Alcatraz and then he had his wife and daughters all dressed as mermaids. It was pretty great. He was the obvious winner. Some people come with tails that they can’t even walk in so their boyfriends or husbands have to carry them. Or they get wheeled in on a radio flyer wagon, we saw that the first night, that was crazy.
Your single “Bruises” with Ashley Monroe is doing well on AC radio right now. Can you tell us the story behind the song and how you teamed up with Ashley?
Ashley’s been a friend of mine for a long time. I met her when she was 19. The guy that used to run Columbia Records introduced her to me because she wanted to write with me. When I met her I realized that I was the lucky one to be in the room with her. She’s a great writer. She has written a lot of hit songs in Nashville for a lot of other artists. Now she has a new album out now called Like A Rose, which I think is going to be a favorite record if you get it. I wrote the song in New York. It was just real easy. I run into people I went to high school with and realize how much older we are, and how much more we’ve been through and a lot of it isn’t all that fun and it makes us more beautiful if you can see it that way. That song was really easy to write because it is a very true story and Ashley was the perfect girl to sing on it.
You seem to fit in well with the country community. Do you have any other country collaborations in the works?
I think maybe a smarter thing for me to do would be to write in Nashville, which I plan on doing for myself and other people. If and when I create a solo album, somewhere down the line, or a solo project, maybe it would be more country leaning. I think at this point we have to stick to who we are. I’ve seen a lot of people try to make that switch and it hasn’t gone well. The Nashville community, you can’t slip something by them. They know if you’re for real or not. I think I write that way naturally, but I wouldn’t want them to think I’m trying to sneak into their community without a formal invitation.
So in a few years we may hear a country-tinged solo album?
Maybe. There’s always something country on every Train record. “Bruises” is country leaning I think on some level. A song called “Feels Good At First,” which I think may be the best song on the record for some people, that’s country leaning. There’s always going to be something, but to make a full-blown country record might be a little while.
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