Beaumont, Texas, overachievers Train in Vain had an ear for radio-friendly choruses while planting their feet firmly in the cerebral, guitar-heavy tradition of bands like Soul Asylum, Sugar and the Buck Pets. Steered by chief songwriters Stephen Hellweg and Richie Haynes, the group was a virtual hook refinery, spewing gallon-drums of raw, high-test melodies over four full-length albums, an eight-song EP, a seven-inch single and a three-song cassette, all of which are now unavailable.
Train in Vain had its origins in Beaumont's Lamar University, where Hellweg, Haynes and bassist/multi-instrumentalist Scott Peebles founded the group, naming it after the well-known hidden track that caps off the Clash's London Calling. The band came to the fore of the Houston scene in the mid-‘90s, hooking up with local indie label Fuzzgun for 1994's Good Enough for You and 1997's Nothing Comes to Mind. The latter is the best-produced encapsulation of the group's instinctive fusion of simple pop formulas, cleverly posed lyrics ("You'll find me where I left you/Standing by myself") and a tooled-up, twin-guitar attack that frequently approaches cock-metal proportions in its efforts to lay the listener flat.
Though around in one form or another for more than a decade, Train in Vain struggled to keep it together, employing several drummers over the years. With families and day jobs taking precedence, the band's core members finally called it quits at the end of the ‘90s.