The city of Gulfport will welcome two time Grammy Award winning artists Train, who will headline the highly anticipated Gulfport Music Festival on May 13 – 14. The San Francisco pop rock band are known for their chart topping singles, and most recently earned the distinction of writing the most downloaded song on iTunes last year, and the most downloaded song of all time for Columbia Records, “Hey Soul Sister.”
I had the pleasure of talking with Scott Underwood who is the drummer for Train and also writes much of their music. He was on vacation in South America at the time, but was really looking forward to touring through the summer with his band mates.
GTP: Your legions of southern fans can’t wait for your return to the Coast – Please tell me how you feel about kicking off the Gulfport Music Festival?
SU: “We are really excited. I mean we are always psyched to play and it is an honor to be a headliner, that’s a really big deal for us and we are very flattered.”
GTP: You guys were really missed when you took that 3 year break, it’s so great that you are making music together again – What made you decide to take that time off?
SU: “We decided to take that break because the truth is, we really weren’t enjoying the career anymore. We were not getting along, in fact some of us weren’t even talking anymore at all. Our attitudes were very negative and it was a dark time. We actually thought Train was over and we were going to break up. We all did our own thing for those 3 years but then something happened and we realized how fortunate we were to have this band, and what it meant to us. We knew that we had this amazing chemistry together which is what made Train so great. Pat (Monahan) started calling each of us up and saying, ‘Hey Man – Let’s get the band back together, we need to do this again’. So Pat, myself and Jimmy decided we were ready but there were a number of things that had to change in order for it to work.”
GTP: What decisions did you make in order to continue with Train?
SU: “We changed our management because we realized that it was the main reason why we stopped getting along and weren’t happy anymore. We also decided that there were some members that did not fit the chemistry of the original band, the fit was not right so we got rid of those guys which also made a huge difference.”
GTP: So the hiatus gave you all a fresh prospective and it was a good thing for everybody –
SU: “Yes, I think so. I think we were just on the wrong path and it came to a dead end. Now we have this new beginning, and non of us are kids, we’ve been around awhile and we have all enjoyed success as individual musicians and artists, as well as with Train…we’ve made some big mistakes along the way but now we have been given this second chance to do it right. We know what the pitfalls are and we are not going to make the same mistakes again.”
GTP: “And then you guys released “Save Me San Francisco” and it was just so great! Wow! Hit after hit – when you were in the studio recording that album, did you feel like something really special was happening and that the album was going to be such a success?
SU: “It took us a little while to get used to being back together. We wrote some of the songs at a friend’s house in Malibu and it was this big beautiful house, overlooking the ocean. It gave us a chance to get the vibe back, we took our time and hung out together in this amazing place. The album was recorded in London and yes, I think we all felt really good about the recording sessions. The studio was very open, full of windows and it was beautiful. Most recording studios are dark and closed in, so this was very different. Every day we took the Tube back and forth to the studio and we were always together…the brotherhood came back. We knew we were putting our hearts and souls into it, we loved the music and we knew it was good but we were unsure if the world would even care about Train anymore. We were never over confident, and we never expected success but we thoroughly enjoyed being back together. Before though, we just expected that we would always stay at the top…and maybe we got lazy.”
GTP: It sounded like you experienced an awakening, and maybe it shook you all up a little bit to be starting over
SU: “We needed to wake up and get our feet back on the ground and that is exactly what happened.”
GTP: Why do you think that the world fell in love with that sweet little song, “Hey Soul Sister”
SU: “We don’t know! It’s a positive song, it’s upbeat, with the fresh sound of the ukulele. Pat is so great at writing melodies and it is such a catchy vocal hook. When we recorded that song, we never thought it would be released as a single but Columbia Records said that it was the one! I do think that the social environment has a lot to do with what songs work and what songs don’t. I think maybe people needed a simple and light hearted pop song to brighten their day during these tough times.”
GTP: I will never forget when Train took the stage during the Concert for New York after 9 / 11 and you all did “Drops of Jupiter” and you could hear a pin drop in Madison Square Garden. The lyrics to that song were so prolific at that moment. Can you take me back to that performance?
SU: “It felt like a dream sort of…I really don’t know how to talk about that. At the time we were on tour with Matchbox 20, we were all sitting on the tour bus and watched the plane go into the second tower – we were in Texas. And to then be a part of that concert? I felt so insignificant, like how could this matter at all – the fact that I play for people and am an entertainer? Everything felt so stupid and pointless at that moment. It was such an honor to be a part of the concert though.”