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'It'll Take Years To Help Everyone': Train's Pat Monahan On Wildfires

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Train's lead singer Pat Monahan was devastated when he heard the news and saw the harrowing images of the Northern California wildfires.

Monahan lived in Petaluma for several years and works with many people in the wine industry, who lost their homes to last month's fires. It's going to take a long time to repair the damaged areas of Northern California and Train wants to do their part to help.

The band, which formed in San Francisco back in the early 1990's, will be holding a benefit concert at JaM Cellars Ballroom in Napa on December 1 to raise money for wine country fire relief efforts. Train is the latest musical group to show support for victims of the fires, as Metallica held a benefit concert earlier this month and Counting Crows with be headlining a benefit relief for the North Bay on November 18.

Monahan spoke with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith about how the idea for the concert came together, his deep connection to the city of San Francisco and his most memorable performances.

DJ Sixsmith: How did the idea for the benefit concert come together?

Pat Monahan: We were asked to do the event that took place in early November in San Francisco. We had a previous engagement we already booked and were not able to get rid of. We kept in touch with the agencies that put these things together. Those fires were so devastating. It's going to take make many years of raising money to help these families. I have a lot of friends in the wine business and many of them were sending emails weekly about their employees. They were updating not only about the vineyards and wineries, but also about their employees. There's one winery where they have 10 employees, who all lost their homes. It's going to take years to try to help everyone. There were only 700 tickets to buy for the concert and they were gone in two minutes. A lot of Train fans were bummed out, but we'll just have to keep doing other things in the future.

DS: In addition to your group, Counting Crows and Michael Franti are all holding a benefit concert to help families affected by the wildfires. What does it mean to be able to use your platform to create real change?

PM: It's all good man. I lived in Petaluma, California for a long time and I was in Santa Rosa weekly or sometimes more than that. I have not been there since the fire, but I have a feeling it is going to make me really sad. It'll make us all want to do more. I was just with Jim Bogios from the Counting Crows yesterday. They are going to be doing something in Sonoma for all these fire victims and maybe we will do something together again in the future.

DS: What should people going to the concert expect to hear on the playlist?

PM: Maybe we'll play a half a dozen Christmas songs and then everything that people want to hear. I think that's probably the way to go about it. Maybe some Led Zeppelin or Queen covers, who knows.

DS: Your upcoming performance at the benefit concert will be an important one given the circumstances. What are some other memorable performances from your career that stand out?

PM: There are so many of them. Performing "Drops of Jupiter" at the GRAMMYs will probably always be ingrained in my top of the list performance moments. Signing national anthems is gut-wrenchingly stressful. There's a lot of those that I'm trying to forget. Performing at Red Rocks so many times and The Fillmore stand out. The Fillmore is special.

DS: Speaking of "Drops of Jupiter," you recently started up a new wine partnership called Drops of Jupiter. How did you get into the wine business?

PM: Years ago when "Marry Me" was a song on the radio, there was a guy in Long Island who asked if he could ask his girlfriend to marry him on stage. We did it and he ended up working for a big alcohol distribution company. He said 'if I can ever do anything for you let me know.' I said that actually there is something. We want to provide Train fans around the world with a really good and reasonable bottle of wine. Not for shtick or novelty, but a real bottle of wine. He said, 'I know just the people.' We've now been making wine for seven or eight years. We wanted to go higher in level of excellence and that's how Drops of Jupiter was born as a label. The best part about it is we started it to benefit Family House, which is our charity in San Francisco that we love and houses low income families and their very sick children.

DS: You've traveled around the country and around the world. What makes San Francisco special in your mind?

PM: Any great place is a great place because of its people. The forward thinking of San Francisco makes it one of the leaders of the world in that category. There's this moment when you are in Marin County and you're heading towards the Golden Gate Bridge and you make that turn right after Rainbow Tunnel and then look over at that city. You just can't believe what a magnificent site it is. The beauty, the people, the food, the wine, I love everything about it.

DS: Train formed back in the early 1990's. How have you guys sustained both success and longevity in the music industry?

PM: I still admire people and their music. I'm not still listening to songs from 1974. I feel like I always have something to learn. There are a lot of artists making great stuff and I feel like I have to keep trying to make the best music I can make. That desire to want to be relevant is why I think we still are. It's never easy. At some point, you can't keep up with it. When you look at David Bowie and Tom Petty and the fact that they made music that people really cared about through their 40's and 50's, that's a big deal. I want to emulate those guys.

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