That’s part of his genius.
The singer-songwriter has fronted the rock outfit Train for more than 20 years.
During those two decades, Monahan has penned some of the biggest songs of the past two decades.
“I feel like I never got to be in the biggest band in the world,” he says during a recent phone interview. “I don’t claim to be famous. But the songs are famous, and that’s pretty cool.”
Train burst onto the scene in 1998 with its second single, “Meet Virginia.”
The track became the first top 20 hit and catapulted the San Francisco-based band into mainstream.
The follow-up album, “Drops of Jupiter,” spawned the single “Drops of Jupiter (Tell Me),” which won two Grammy Awards in 2002.
Monahan went on to write the massive singles “Calling All Angels,” “Hey, Soul Sister,” “If It’s Love,” “Marry Me” and “Drive By.”
And he’s not done yet.
Train’s latest single, “Play That Song” is steadily rising up the charts. It’s the lead-off single from the band’s eighth album, “A Girl a Bottle a Boat.”
Nearly 20 years since “Meet Virginia” debuted, Train is still a mainstay on radio.
“Honestly, I don’t talk about how brutal it is,” he says of fighting to stay on radio. “We are in the top 25 of radio, and it’s insanely difficult to do that. Radio stations want to play the new guys. It’s not about if the song is a hit or not. We are infatuated with celebrity and the new kid. It’s very challenging. The song has to speak for itself now.”
With the new album, Monahan says, the band worked with three specific people.
“I think this was the key to it,” he says. “I wanted to be around positive people and the music reflects that. It’s a very young record.”
Monahan also recently inducted Journey into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Monahan says Journey is a band that has never received proper credit for its music.
“I’m a kid from western Pennsylvania,” he says. “I moved to San Francisco. We’ve always had really lovely die-hard fans. No on ever goes out of their way to give us credit. I don’t need the credit, and Journey was like that too. They had huge songs and never got the proper credit. It was amazing to be part of the band getting its due.”
And while Monahan has built up a stellar career, he says there are a few things he’d still like to do.
“I’d really love to sell out Madison Square Garden,” he says. “I would love to play Wembley Stadium (in London). Those are two pretty good goals. And I would love to collaborate with Annie Lennox, but I don’t think this new generation knows who she is. I would collaborate with anybody.”