It’s been 25 years
since Collective Soul front man E. Roland’s iconic “yeah” (from the band’s
debut single “Shine”) was first heard over the radio airwaves. Since then, the
Georgia quintet’s infectiously catchy songs have been a staple of Top 40,
contemporary rock, and—more recently—classic rock radio. And to celebrate their
silver anniversary, the band are not only touring throughout the U.S. with the
Gin Blossoms, but also releasing Blood (June 21, Fuzze-Flex Records).
The 10-track album which features the classic Collective Soul sound is, as
indicated by its first single, “Right as Rain,” certain to add to the band’s
legacy of hits.
Once referred to as “The Jukebox Heroes of a New Generation,”
Collective Soul have always had to contend with lazy music critics determined
to categorize them. When they first emerged during the mid-nineties, they were incorrectly
branded Christian Rock. That was followed by the even more inane “post-grunge”
the band have been written off as “nineties rock,” as if their sound has grown
stale and dated. As the band continues to prove, however, they are as fresh and
viable as they were more than two decades ago.
When starting out, Collective
Soul’s members shared one Georgia home. Today, the band, which also includes bassist Will
Turpin, guitarist Jesse Triplett, and drummer Johnny Rabb, are spread across the country.
Guitarist Dean Roland, for instance, is enjoying a rare overcast afternoon in
his adopted San Diego, excited to talk with The Aquarian about the
band’s past, their new album, and their very bright future.
25 years of Collective Soul. That is an exciting milestone.
We’ve never been a band that
reflects on our past; we continually make records and look to bring our music
creatively forward. But this [milestone] is special. We’ve been around for a
minute, so let’s step back and enjoy it. It has been nice to look back and see
how far we’ve come and what has changed and what hasn’t changed.
Part of the celebration includes the new album, Blood.
We had been in our studio in
Atlanta, our home base, but there were too many distractions. Friends and
family: life distractions. We decided we wanted to go back to doing things the
way we did on our [early] records when we would go away and seclude ourselves.
We found The Barbershop, which
is in Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey. We were there for a few weeks recording this
record and we had a blast. We all lived in the same house just like we used to
do it 20 years ago.
How has the creative process changed during the last two decades?
Lyrically, E. still writes about
our life experiences: where we are now and how we arrived here. Like everyone
else in life, good things happen, and bad things happen. We just take it in and
write about [those experiences]. That is our job or duty as songwriters.
After 25 years, the songwriting process is certain to have changed
We have refined our approach to
songwriting. We’ve gotten better at playing our instruments, which helps [laughs].
We’ll head into the studio with ideas and, if we are in that zone, we’ll have
fun and the ideas will flow. E. may have a song idea, or someone may have a
guitar riff to work off of. [While working on Blood] things just seemed to happen quicker than usual.
When we record, we try to play
as much of it live [as a band] as we can. Then we’ll go back and record
overdubs as necessary. We were able to do that ‘cause we had played a lot of
the songs live during the last year or so. Our recent tours were, in a way, our
pre-production for the new record.
I have been reading about Blood
for a while now.
We considered releasing Blood as a double album. When we
went into the studio to record this current batch of songs, however, it just
happened so fast that we decided against the double album. We just locked into
the songs that make up Blood.
The songs just seemed to fit together.
And now, we have another record
that we’ll release next year. Before doing so, we’ll jump back into the studio
and record a few more songs. We have the music. We just flipped the script on
Things are so different today.
There is no longer a massive setup required to release new music. You just
upload it and send it out into the world. These days, you can release a record
on a whim.
What helped the created juices flow? Was it a break from each other?
Was it dabbling in side projects?
During the last few years, we
took breaks to do our own things. E. had his own project and recorded a solo record.
I have my other band, Magnets and Ghosts. Will did a couple of solo records.
Those things definitely help.
When you are in a band together
for 25 years, you begin to build creative walls that you don’t realize are
there. When you take a breather and then come back, those walls no longer exist.
And you begin to look at things from a fresh perspective.
Despite the 10-year age difference, building walls must come
naturally between you and your brother, E.?
E. and I have a healthy respect
for one another’s talents, which results in a fun rivalry. But E. is my biggest
fan when it comes to what I do with Magnets and Ghosts. And I am his biggest
fan. We are all supportive of each
other. You cannot be in a band and in such close proximity to each other and
not share a mutual respect. If you are going to make it, you have to make it
work. At the end of the day, we enjoy each other’s company and music is our
Maturity is also important.
Maturity is big, and so is the
realization of just how lucky we are. This thing could have ended in September
1994 after just one hit. It didn’t, but we have never taken any of it for
granted. We love what we do and keep trying to do it at the highest level possible.
Collective Soul certainly achieves that with Blood.
People that dig what we do will
enjoy it. It sounds like a band playing. There is no gimmickry on the record.
It is just five dudes making music. And that is why I enjoy playing these new
songs live. I will be on stage playing and begin to trip out—have this out-of-body
experience—when I realize it is five human beings performing this music. There
is no [outside] help. It is just five guys leaning on each other to make these
The first single, “Right as Rain,” is already a hit.
It’s a rock-pop, almost
Americana, song with a title inspired by something my southern-bred grandmother
used to say.
The song features a special guest.
Peter Stroud, who is Sheryl Crow’s lead guitarist
and musical director, is a good friend of ours from Atlanta. We invited him
over to play the slide-guitar solo on the song. Styx’s Tommy Shaw sings on the
closing track “Porch Swing.”
The band are performing seven new songs during live shows?
We played a few warmup gigs last
week [before the tour officially starts] and we played seven new songs. We’ll
rotate them in and out of our set list. We will be playing at a few festivals
this summer where our set times will be limited, so we will have to stick to
Collective Soul does have 25 years of music to choose from.
That is a lot of music to cram
into a couple of hours, especially with the new album. But it is a great
problem to have.
Some veteran bands seem to go through the yearly cycle of a new
album and tour. When talking about new music, they seem indifferent, if not
bored by the process. You seem genuinely excited about Blood.
It’s what keeps us going. We’re
excited about what is next for us. We want to keep creating new music.
For the members of Collective Soul, music is still a passion.
Who am I kidding? I haven’t had
a real job since I was 20 years old. I get to write and play music for a
living. We all have to roll with the punches and do the best we can. It’s like
I tell the younger, up-and-coming artists: ‘Just do it your way. Times change.
Your integrity and what you do as an artist: that is all that should matter.’
There was a time when the members of Collective Soul were nervous
about approaching veteran artists. Ironically, you are now that veteran artist
offering sage advice.
Anytime we perform at a music
festival and there are young bands doing their thing, I am impressed. It is
harder today to make it than it has ever been. Anytime I can offer my
perspective and my two cents, I love it. You need guidance and clarity, ‘cause
this business can get overwhelming.
Collective Soul are self-sufficient, but up-and-coming artists no
longer have the support of a strong music industry.
Getting the financing together
to tour and record is insane. And being a touring band with instruments and
equipment is not like a DJ who travels around with just a computer. I think it
is worth it to be in a rock band, but there are no short cuts or easy paths to
Where will the new Collective Souls come from?
I have no idea, but I hope they
keep fighting and keep coming.
Collective Soul’s summer tour begins on May 25th at The Hard Rock Casino
in Atlantic City. Support comes from Gin Blossoms.
During the last few decades, we’ve
played one-off shows with them, but this is our first tour together. They’re
friends of ours so it should be fun.
Catch Collective Soul and Gin Blossoms’ “Now’s The Time” Tour in Big Flats, New York on June 2, and in Morristown, New Jersey on June 4. For ticket information check out collectivesoul.com