Train frontman Pat Monahan has a very busy year ahead of him. In addition to prepping the follow-up to his band’s hit album Save Me San Francisco and taking care of his newborn son, the singer is pursuing a sideline in acting and just wrapped up filming an episode of the TBS series The Wedding Band that will air sometime next year. In this conversation with Rolling Stone, Monahan chats about the new Train disc and reveals his ambition to write, direct and star in his own movie, as well as his band’s hope to bring San Francisco culture on the road with them by offering “the best burrito you’ve ever had” at their gigs.
Is this role on The Wedding Band your first experience acting?
No, but it’s the first time I’ve played myself. I acted on CSI: New York, and I’m supposed to do a thing on Hawaii Five-0 sometime this season. I’ve lived in L.A. a few times, and one of the times I was living there I was pursuing acting as a profession. I didn’t want to just be in shows but I wanted to pursue actually being good at it. So I took classes in Los Angeles for a year and learned a lot. I have a good friend who is an actor. His name is Mark Blucas. He and I are from the same hometown in Pennsylvania. Someday I’ll write a movie or something and I’ll play the lead in it. I feel like that’s about the only way I would get a serious acting part.
Would you integrate music into a project like that?
Yeah, absolutely. I don’t think a good writer can come from a completely pretentious place. I think to be authentic in any way you have to incorporate a lot of yourself, you know?
You could do your own Purple Rain.
Well, I don’t know about my own Purple Rain, but it’d be a dream come true if I could ride a motorcycle in a movie [laughs].
If you were writing your own movie, you could do that.
That’s right. If I’m writing my own movie, I’m going to the goddamn moon on a motorcycle. My first film is a $400 million movie because I want to take a motorcycle to the moon.
Were you self-conscious when playing yourself on this show?
Yeah, it’s funny. When you play yourself in a show like that, you’re playing somebody else’s version of yourself, so it’s really an interesting perspective. I read a script before the one I actually did and it was really odd, and it wasn’t anything like me or my band life. There was one thing I was going to ask them to change, but I didn’t have to by the time I got there. We all in the band have children, and so one of the lines was – one of the guys in the wedding band has kids and the other guys don’t, so he was trying to relate to me about kids and I was like, “Yeah, my band doesn’t get it.” But that was weird, because we all have kids.
Do you have any other parts coming up? Is more acting on the horizon?
Just in Hawaii Five-0. We’re going to have a new album released in April and a new single in January, so I think somewhere between January and April I’ll go to Hawaii and shoot that stuff. Then, I don’t know. I have a friend in Los Angeles who is a comedy writer, so he and I might start working on some things. But I just want to be creative. I’m a singer in a band, so I’m not sure that I’m ever going to be a Daniel Day Lewis, you know?
Is the new album finished?
It’s very close. The guys are recording it in Los Angeles right now. We did pre-production last week, and I am not going to Los Angeles because I just had a little boy. He’s one month old. So I’m staying put in Seattle and San Francisco, and those guys are going to work in L.A. and then we’re kind of going to be done. We have a single being released called “Drive By” and we’ll play the Orange Bowl on the 4th of January, so I think “Drive By” will come out on the 5th or 6th.
What is the new record like?
It has pop elements because, of course, being on the radio is important to Train. There’s a country song called “Bruises” that I’m really excited about. I think it’s my favorite song on the record. It’s just about two people seeing each other after graduating high school ten years earlier. So there’s a lot of eclectic stuff. There’s a couple of country songs. Some pop songs. We’re getting more rock on this record than the last record. It’s like the song “Save Me San Francisco,” except a little bit more rock. We’re just trying to make a good album because everybody considers albums to be done, and I think a sort of band like us, if we don’t try to make a great album, then we’re done.
You had a big career resurgence with the last record. Do you feel pressure to keep that momentum going?
Yeah. It’s important to keep the momentum going. I’ve always wanted to be Coldplay, as far as their popularity and how beloved they were. But when I stopped wanting to be Coldplay and just be happy with being Train, I started writing better music. So whatever avenue I go, I’d love to get more and more people on board.
You’ve been putting out your own Train wine – you have a Train wine club. How did that come about?
It’s a really cool thing. The wine tastes awesome. Our favorite bands in the world have a culture attached to them. Many cultures, it’s about smoking pot.
Right. Your band might be to wine what Snoop Dogg is to pot.
Exactly. My lyrics are more grown-up, I suppose, even though his lyrics are awesome and relate to a different type of thing than I relate to. So with that, you know, I try to bring San Francisco to people lyrically. I thought maybe we should try and bring San Francisco to people in wine, and we’ll go from there. I’d like to get Ghirardelli chocolate to help us make a Train chocolate bar. We’re trying to just incorporate San Francisco into more of what we do.
Have you guys thought about burritos?
Yeah. We’ve been talking about that. If you come to a Train show, you should be able to get the best burrito you’ve ever had and say, “Holy shit, the best burrito I’ve ever had is when I went to a rock show.” So, you know, there’s other things we are going to try and do. The wine that we had made is a petit sirah, and it’s really nice, and people are in love with it. We just recently started taking pre-orders for our chardonnay, which is called Calling All Angels. And then, I think in early summer, we’ll start working on Hella Fine Merlot, which is a lyric in “Save Me San Francisco.”
Are there any songs on your new record that lend themselves to a new wine?
Actually, I’m not sure. None that I can think of. I’m not sure if I talk about wine specifically.
How about burritos?
Burritos, yes. It’s more of a burrito record.