Train’s Pat Monahan Reflects On Their Top Hit Of 2010

Credit: Kevin Winter/DCNYRE2010/Getty

Train jumped back onto the charts and into the hearts of soccer moms everywhere with last year's "Hey, Soul Sister," the top-selling digital download  of 2010 (FYI: 4,249,000 of you picked up that puppy).

But is the San Francisco rock outfit as sick of the song as a few people I know are? Not a chance! Singer Pat Monahan opens up to about how he really feels about their comeback hit and why he's skipping the Grammy Awards on Feb. 13, where it's nominated for Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals. To catch them live instead, visit What was your reaction when you found out "Hey Soul Sister" was the #1 song of the year?
Pat Monahan: I'm a big fan of pop radio right now, and I think there are some amazing talents. So to think that something that I did made a bigger impression than something Lady Gaga did this year was pretty overwhelmingly cool. To be in the same category as someone like her, I find her to be incredibly talented.
Us: So, do you feel any pressure now to produce something that will top the success of "Hey Soul Sister?"
PM: I don't know. The pressure I really felt was before the last album came out because nowadays in the music world we all have one more chance no matter who you are. If you are Lady Gaga or Katy Perry, you probably have two more chances, but for us, this was it. But now we get to do another one, so really the pressure has passed. We have gone to places around the world that we never dreamed of before. We were all over South America. We went to New Zealand for the first time and Asia. Now we're heading back to all those places!
Us: Do you ever get sick of the ubiquity of "Hey Soul Sister?"
PM: I'm not really like that. When I'm writing songs I want them to matter to me. I never know if they're going to be hit songs or anything, but I always know if they make an impression on me. We just hit the 5 million mark of downloads in the United States and 2 million outside of the United States. When 7 million people like something that much, I'm dying to sing it every night. 
Us: Let me be blunt: why do you think so many soccer moms love "Hey Soul Sister"?
PM: I think that the words to the song and the melody are all very positive. It's about the beauty of women. The beauty of women isn't always necessarily the obvious beauty, and I think soccer moms feel that. Of all the songs on pop radio, it's a message that they really love that they can share with their kids. Also, soccer moms are of my generation. They come to Train shows and have for many years and now the kids are dragging them to something that they like as well.
Us: Will you be attending the Grammy's this year?
PM: I don't think I'll be going to the Grammy's because we'll be touring. Had we been asked to perform on the Grammy's we would have cancelled some things, but the fact that we are not performing makes it so that we can continue to work while they're having fun.
Us: How will you spend the night of the award show? Will you be waiting by the phone to see if you guys win a Grammy?
PM: Well, the truth is I'll probably be on the road singing somewhere. I think that's the best way to celebrate. Being on stage singing while people are collecting their awards at the Grammys, that's what I would rather do. That sounds like more fun for me.

Us: What are some of your biggest challenges as a group?

PM: We struggle being in this band together. Being Train was really difficult for all of us. We struggled with liking one another because the personalities that goes into the family of being in a band can be a pain in the ass. What we learned was if you don't love the work, you're not going to like the results no matter what. If you are in something just because the success of it feels really good then eventually you're not going to have those feelings anymore because the success will come and go. That was really the stage that we were at. If we can love one another in this process then we'll really have a good time with this record no matter what. It was successful, but what we learned in all of this was that with the work there was the reward. Not the success of the work.

Us: What are your inspirations when you are writing music?

PM: Everything really. Somehow when I'm in a room with writers -- whether I'm with the guys from Train or other people -- I kind of take on their life a little bit. I guess different things pop into my head when I'm writing. It's a really musical process for me. If I hear a piano it's a part of my life that I draw from. If it's a guitar, a drumbeat, it always depends on what the sound is that triggered something in my brain or body that makes me want to write something. Like "Hey Soul Sister," the whole album was about life in San Francisco and maybe this next album will be about more of that or the time we spent traveling the world the last two years.

Us: You are close buddies with Pete Wentz. Thoughts on his new haircut? Be careful as it looks a lot like mine now!

PM: His new haircut? My opinion of Pete Wentz is that I've never met a cooler, more genuine, amazing guy. I say that after meeting many many celebrities and when I'm around Pete Wentz he's such an amazing energy. Such a positive, youthful, epic guy to me that whatever he does with his hair means that's what is cool. Whatever that guy does is what everybody should be doing because that's the shit.
Us: Who would you like to collaborate with in the future?
PM: The truth is that there is no artist that I wouldn't like to work with. Everybody has something incredible to offer, and I love to just be in the room when they are doing their best work. It's a real honor to be in a room with someone when they are at their best.
Us: What are the upcoming plans in 2011?
PM: We're really hoping to have a new record out this year. I feel like I have four or five songs written for it, and I would like to have another 15 songs. We're going to do all this traveling, but I'll also spend time in New York and Los Angeles and here in Seattle trying to write so that we can put a record out sometime. I think we're also trying to do an amphitheatre tour with Maroon 5, but it hasn't been confirmed yet. That's what we're hoping for!

By Ian Drew for To read more of Ian's blog, click here, and don't forget to follow him on Twitter.