- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 13, 2002

More than a few people were surprised at this year's Grammy Awards when rock veterans Aerosmith and U2 lost the "Best Rock Song" category to relatively young upstarts, Train.

"I think it was a little bit surreal," says lead singer Pat Monahan. "I hate that word, but it was kind of true."

The San Francisco band won for "Drops of Jupiter," a catchy, heartfelt song awash in '70s rock influences, especially in its piano and strings chorus. The song was already a radio hit by the time the Grammy Awards took place, and the win helped boost sales even more of Train's sophomore album, also called "Drops of Jupiter."

"It was the final song to be written and recorded," Mr. Monahan says. "We felt like the cornerstone had just been created."

Fans will likely hear that tune when the band opens for Sheryl Crow as part of the Jeep World Outside Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion tonight. The festival also features O.A.R., Ziggy Marley and Silvercrush on the main stage, with Tonic and Howie Day headlining the second stage.

Train formed in San Francisco in 1994, after Mr. Monahan relocated to the area from Erie, Pa., and came together with guitarists Rob Hotchkiss and Jim Stafford, bassist Charlie Colin and drummer Scott Underwood. Major labels took notice of the band's acoustic-centered, alternative rock and Train released its major label, self-titled debut in 1998.

They had a surprise hit with "Meet Virginia," a quirky, catchy acoustic rock number that helped the band gain a following. By the time "Drops of Jupiter" was recorded, Sony Records was already projecting huge success for the group.

"When you put a record together, they start talking business with you and having expectations and everything," Mr. Monahan says. "And when their actual projections started happening, I guess I was pretty surprised."

The band has already begun recording new material for its third album, an untitled work Mr. Monahan hopes will be in stores in late fall. Three-quarters of the record is already complete, he says.

"We've gotten to the place where writing comes from everywhere," Mr. Monahan says. "We'll put down a keyboard line or a poem that turns into a melody that turns into a drum beat there are no boundaries with writing."

Mr. Monahan says the group will likely play one or two new songs each night on tour, with "Your Every Color" being a personal favorite. The band has also asked fans, via its Web site, to help pick out its set list. The results have been surprising.

"It was interesting to hear that people want to hear the mellow songs," he says. "They want to hear "Mississippi" and "Let It Roll." People want to come and see us for songs that normally we wouldn't think they want to listen to."

Many bands would likely buckle from the pressure a Grammy win brings, but Train has taken the trophy in stride.

"The only pressure I think we really have now is not from record company people, but people in general, who expect us to be consistently good.

"I think that's a good pressure, because I want to be that anyway," he adds.

WHAT: Train, opening for Sheryl Crow on the Jeep World Outside Festival

WHERE: Merriweather Post Pavilion

WHEN: Starting at 3 p.m. today

TICKETS: $24.50-$46.50

PHONE: 202/432-SEAT

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