COLLECTIVE SOUL AT 25: KEEP ON SHINING THE LIGHT
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Collective Soul are pumped and primed to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2019 in all-out style, but they’re really just gearing up for the long haul. Ever since the barnburning rock band from Stockbridge, Georgia burst onto the national scene with the runaway success of their multi-platinum 1993 debut Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid and its ensuing mega-smash hits like “Shine” and “Breathe,” they’ve been on an upward trajectory that’s seen them play to sold-out audiences across the globe while concurrently amassing a most impressive catalog of beloved songs instantly recognizable by their titles alone.
Indelibly memorable tracks like “December,” “The World I Know,” “Gel,” “Heavy,” and “Precious Declaration” (to name but a few) all evoke a collective sense of heartfelt observational universality and earnest positivity — in short, they’re the jukebox heroes of a new generation. Indeed, the secret sauce to Collective Soul’s continued success story is a simple one: a palpable mixture of insightful songwriting and impeccable band chemistry. “So much of what we do is based on the camaraderie-ship of the band,” notes frontman and chief songwriter Ed Roland. “The five us work together as a family, and I’ve never been at more ease — and never been more pleased — than going onstage with these guys right now, night after night.”
And now, Collective Soul is proud to welcome the newest member of their recorded family into the world titled Blood. Blood is the culmination of a quarter-century of Collective Soul assessing not only where they’ve come from, but also where they’re going. “I think Blood expresses where we’ve been on this life journey,” observes Roland. “And we’ve done so with songs featuring piano and strings to those with a lot of guitar riffs. Blood is an accumulation of all the different styles we’ve used over the years — but it’s still Collective Soul. I think it’s the best we’ve ever done. I know you should think that, but I really do think it’s the best. It’s a good, consistent record. We’re just so proud of it.”
From stem to stern, Blood delivers in full. Witness the hard-charging skitter of “Over Me,” the optimistic declaration of “Right as Rain,” the hopeful uplift of a man “Changed,” and the tender promise of “Big Sky.” The album’s final track — the reflective, poignant acoustified coda “Porch Swing” — features background vocals and tasteful dobro licks from none other than Styx guitarist/vocalist Tommy Shaw, who was beyond thrilled to contribute to the cause. “I’ve always been a fan of Ed Roland and Collective Soul’s recordings,” Tommy says. “I thought about adding more parts than what Ed asked me to do, but as someone wiser than me once said, ‘Don’t paint over the masterpiece!’” Look for the deep grooves of Blood to seep into your respective ears canals soon.
From the very beginning of the band’s career, Roland always had his eye on the prize. “When ‘Shine’ came out, we got asked, ‘What’s your goal with this band?’ I said, ‘I want to have a whole row of Collective Soul recordings on the shelf.’ That was my goal,” Roland recounts. “Me, I always wanted to see the full body of work. That’s all I ever wanted. I knew I could write, and as the band progressed and got better, that’s why we wanted to keep going. I don’t think we ever doubted it. We, as the artists — we had no fear. The guys in the band have enough faith in my songwriting, and I have faith in them.”
Roland feels the best days of Collective Soul are on the horizon. “We’ve had a couple of hiccups here and there as any band does if they stay together long enough,” he admits, “but if the core stays there — and me, Dean [Roland, rhythm guitarist], and Will [Turpin, bassist] were always the core — then good things will happen. And when you get good people in like Jesse [Triplett, lead guitarist] and Johnny [Rabb, drummer], then good things definitely happen. And nobody’s leaving at this point either. This is the lineup that, if people ever ask, ‘If you could start over, what would you do differently?’ I’d say, ‘I’d have Jesse and Johnny in the band.’ Jesse would have only been about eight-years-old back then, but we would have molded him,” Roland concludes with a laugh.
As noted earlier, sharing that tight-knit family dynamic onstage remains a key element for Collective Soul moving forward. “The studio thing is but one level of the creation process, but when you get onstage every night, these brothers of mine are just all-out rocking!” Roland confirms. “A lot of it has to do with how the band has gotten really tight, and how we enjoy each other’s company out there. When they came in, Jesse and Johnny put a new spark into the band. Whenever I come up with a new idea, it’s just so simple for me to sit there and show it to them and say, “Go try it at soundcheck. Let’s go work on that.’”
PHOTO CREDIT Lee Clower
As tight as Collective Soul are onstage, they always strive for improvement. “We hug each other when we’re done, and then we discuss the show and figure out what we can do to make it better the next day,” Roland relates. “What song can we add so that it’s different? We try to keep our chops up on these songs as much as possible.”
Another new wrinkle is that, with Jesse, Johnny, and Will now all providing background vocals both onstage and on record, Roland has yet another dynamic quiver in his songwriting bow that only lends itself to better material and better performances in the long run. “I go to a different place now,” he says. “It gives me a chance to go, ‘Hold on. I don’t have to go there; I can go here. Johnny and Jesse and Will can take over the whole thing.’ It’s a different approach to songwriting and performing. It gives me a chance to relax where I’m going with the melody. I know where the melody wants to go, but if I can go here [puts his hand up] and those boys can do that [points downward], it sustains me better for touring.”
All of these textural nuances add up to a most exciting Collective Soul 2019, with even more invigorated live sets to come. “For us, we want to play the hits as we always do, but I think we also want to share the new record with our fans,” Roland explains. “At 25 years later, we want to say, ‘Hey, we’re still making the best that we can do.’ Right now, I’ve got seven of the new songs in the setlist, and hopefully, on some nights, we can play the whole thing from start to finish. I mean, it’s our 25th anniversary. We’re going at it hard, everyone! We’re going hard.”
Heaven has clearly shined its light down on Collective Soul for 25 years running with no end in sight, so here’s to the next quarter-century and beyond! Bask in their continual glow.
—Mike Mettler, official Soulographer
Be sure to check out Will Turpin's solo record " Serengeti Drivers" HERE
Be sure to check out Collective Soul's official website and purchase "BLOOD" HERE