Jay Leno is sticking his chin in Train’s dressing room door. ”Hey, guys, everybody cool? You need crack, Ecstasy? I know that you music guys… Oh, this is like an interview?” He turns momentarily sheepish. ”All right. The strippers are waiting next door. Use the pool. Welcome back. See you downstairs. We’ll sell some CDs.”
We bet he says that to all the bands. But the ”Tonight Show” host’s insincere promises of greenroom bacchanalia may ring especially ironic in the case of Train, a quintet that’s a veritable island of rock traditionalism and normalcy right now amid a sea of Durst-case scenarios. Three of the five are family men, including 32-year-old frontman Pat Monahan, along with Rob Hotchkiss and Jimmy Stafford; not even bachelors Scott Underwood and Charlie Colin are likely to be out doing crystal meth with porn stars after the taping. Chicks — especially the ones with their original body parts — dig ’em. They may be a runaway success, but these are the kind of Midwestern transplants you’d vote most likely to stay on track.
Not that Train’s all-Americana, slightly rootsy, almost defiantly mainstream rock is strictly sweetness and light. There are decided hints of decadence in the lusciously orchestrated top five ballad they’re about to serenade Leno’s audience with — ”Drops of Jupiter,” the title song of their platinum sophomore album. But it’s the girl in ”Jupiter” who’s gone off in search of upscale kicks, while the stable male narrator waits at home, wondering whether she’ll come down to earth.
”We think men tend to be the ones to sow their oats, and it’s not always the case,” says Monahan, who looks like a slightly scruffier Peter Gallagher. ”Sometimes women have just got to find out who they are before they say they want to be with you forever. You go, ‘Do what you need to do. But, man, don’t you miss me really bad? And don’t forget about all the simple things we liked together, like fried chicken and soy lattes.”’ Come tune’s end, it’s still unresolved whether the straying miss finally picks coffee and KFC over designer drugs and veal. Or, as Monahan gingerly puts it, ”we don’t know if the bitch come home, we don’t know if the bitch don’t come home.”
Calm down, gals. ”We joke a lot about bitches and ho’s because we think it’s so wrong,” pledges the singer, who, although he’s plopped his black-leather-clad butt into a dressing room garbage can to do this interview, is not a trashy guy. ”There’s a little bit of creepiness going on in music,” says Monahan. And he’s having none of it: ”I just think that ‘Drops of Jupiter’ as an album is a bit more about what’s good in life.”