An up-and-coming band is ready for the lessons of its first big tour.
The San Francisco-based band Train, with a roots sound grounded musically in territory staked by the Allman brothers and vocals of Pearl Jam intensity, is headlining the current national AWARE tour. Tag-alongs include labelmates 19 Wheels.
Train just began a nine-week, 45-day tour and the musicians aren't sure what to expect.
"When you get the opportunity to go out on the road, there are lots of lessons to learn,'' said vocalist Pat Monahan shortly after the first show of the tour. ``I think we were able to tap into a few lessons and enjoy it. It was a great night."
Aware, a small independent record label based in Chicago, has been producing compilations of up-and-coming groups annually for the past five years and helped launch Jackopierce, Better Than Ezra and Hootie and the Blowfish, among others.
The label recently aligned itself with Columbia Records, allowing the larger label access to newer bands and giving Aware the power to more effectively market and support bands.
Monahan appreciated the label's insight when it was time to release the band's debut album, which happened on Feb. 25.
"They made a few changes on the record that we thought were great ideas. We remastered it, and everybody's real happy with it so far," he said.
Originally slated for a Columbia deal, the band was moved to the smaller label, with hopes of building a fan base the old-fashioned way -- touring. The band prepared for the two-month tour by continually working day jobs and purchasing an armful of board games to fill time on traveling long stretches of road.
"We play In-line -- it's a Connect Four game -- and Uno. Those are the two prime games, along with a little rummy. We also have small versions of our instruments that we play," Monahan said.
``We're still doing everything we typically do. The other day we finished a couple of songs in the hotel we were in -- that's what we did with our time off.''
And there's always shopping.
``We're going to go search for some cool clothes and see how cool Houston is today,'' Monahan said.
Along the road, the band is going to hit many of the members' hometowns. For some of the musicians, it will be the first time their families will see what they've been up to for the past two years.
``I think being on the road -- our standards are going to be so high and we're going to be so good, playing night after night, that they'll see a show worth seeing,'' Monahan said.
``Even if we're bad, we'll be better than we ever have been. I'm looking forward to my family getting a true taste of how good we can be.''
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