Collective Soul: Welcome All Again

Since the departure of the band’s former drummer Ryan Hoyle, Cheney Brannon has taken over the kit. Although a new member, he’s known the members of Collective Soul for years and has played in bands with Roland and lead guitarist Joel Kosche, which may be a big part of the reason why—by the sound of the new record—he’s an instant fit. “This record is a little bit more of a rock record, more straight forward, and that’s right up his alley. He knocked it out of the park.” Along with bassist Will Turpin, the new line-up is solid.

Having been on their fair share of labels throughout an ever-expanding career, Collective Soul went from independent to Atlantic to their own company El Music Group, and now Loud & Proud/Roadrunner, where they feel they’ve finally found a home with people who work hard to support them. “It’s nice to work with folks who love music,” Roland says with a sense of contentment.

Whether the band has support or not, they’ve always taken it upon themselves to let the masses know they exist, and communicate with their fans. These days, they are big fans of the newest social media outlet, Twitter, where they constantly speak with their fans, run contests, post photos and videos, and most impressive of all? They follow everyone back, giving them the ability to reply to posts written by their fans and even re-post ones they find interesting. “It’s a cool way to stay connected,” Roland agrees, while also feeling a kinship with the original music sources. “I don’t think anything replaces anything at this point, there are so many open forums. At the end of the day, radio and MTV, those are still main outlets, even if they’re out of your conscious zone.”

Thankfully, communication with their fans hasn’t caused any uproars or problems. Recently American Idol winner David Cook dealt with fans writing messages on his tour bus and calling his hotel room. It seems that in this day and age fans have unfortunately become more invasive than respectful. Collective Soul’s fans seem to enjoy the ability to communicate with them through Twitter, without really crossing any boundaries. “A lot of times I find that,” Roland begins, with a laugh, “there are people that have insatiable appetites that you can’t quench, which is a good problem I guess. For the most part, it’s very respectful, with a mutual appreciation. As a fundamental role and law of relationships, if you give respect, you’ll be respected.”

It’s a good thing they know how to communicate with their fans, and don’t have to deal with much insanity, because it seems as though they pick up new fans show after show. They play the supporting role on a tour, and consequently turn people’s intentions around, causing them to thoroughly enjoy a Collective Soul set, and leave by the time the headliner hits the stage. “What took you so long?” Roland jokes about those who just now realize they exist.

Whether four or 40, there is a broad demographic of fans who gravitate and relate to the melodic rock ‘n roll ensemble. I discovered them when I was seven and heard “December” on the radio, completely smitten, singing and bopping along anytime the song was on the radio. Due to my parents “singing” the song to a brave saleswoman at a local North Jersey record store, they brought home Collective Soul’s first self-titled for me that Christmas. Fifteen years later at 22, my love and appreciation for their music hasn’t dissipated in the least.

“At the end of the day, we love music, and we love playing it. We’re happy that we’re able to make a living doing it, you know? It’s your passion, it’s what you do. It makes you proud, and thankful.”

Collective Soul is out Aug. 25. The band performs at Starland Ballroom Aug. 20, the TLA in Philadelphia Aug. 21 and the Fillmore At Irving Plaza Aug. 25.