Georgia singer-songwriter discusses new album
Band performs Aug. 12 at Erie County Fair
By Joshua Maloni
The first 20-something years of Collective Soul produced more than a dozen top 10 songs, nearly two-dozen videos, regular national television appearances, millions of records sold, and songs that hold a firm place in the hearts of all who attended high school in the '90s (not to mention multiple spots on their portable playlists).
And yet, frontman Ed Roland said the 2015 incarnation is the best version of Collective Soul.
"I really think Collective Soul has grown," he said. "If you look at our catalog of music, we've always tried little things here and there different. Never too crazy. But I'm proud of the history. I'm proud of the songs. I still think the best is yet to come."
"I think we're better musicians. And, honestly, I think we're a better band," he said. "If I could go back 20 years, this is the band I'd have. I mean, it's good."
If the band is, in fact, better now, it's because Roland called a timeout.
"We were starting to not to like each other (laughs), to be honest," he said. "Not enjoying it. We just kind of got - we just needed a break. Everybody needs a vacation."
Roland, his brother Dean (rhythm guitar), and longtime bassist Will Turpin took a full year off.
"It had been so long," Roland said. "We had taken a small break about 10 years earlier, but not like we decided on this one. We were like, 'Let's just take a year.' Because we were about to go in and make the record. And I was, like, 'We just need this time, guys. We're not in it for the right reason right now,' " Roland said. "And it worked out perfectly. We came back energized. We came back confident. It gave us time to reminisce and be proud of what we had accomplished. ... We still have more to accomplish. So it worked out great.
"Nobody got lazy and said, 'I don't want to do this anymore.' Everybody came back fired up, which was great."
As Collective Soul began to regroup, two new members were added. Roland said the additions exceeded his expectations, but also made recording a ninth studio album more challenging.
"We were going to do another record, but, at the same time, taking that time off, you know, we added some new layers. We added a new drummer, Johnny Rabb, and lead guitarist, Jesse Triplett," he said. "We just didn't know where we were going to go. At that point, we were like, 'Are we just going to go tour, and rely on what we've done in the past?' I wouldn't do that, personally. So I kind of laid that down. I was like, 'We're going to continue. We're going to go make another record.'
"And (out came) the words 'See What You Started By Continuing,' the name of the album."
The band quickly realized two things. First, the new members were a perfect fit.
"They came in and it's like they'd been there for the last 20 years with us," Roland said. "They didn't come in going, 'Hey, I'm better at this than you.' They just came in and ... 'What can we do to make this the best it can be for you guys?' And they nailed it."
Second, though the musicianship is better today, the band realized the value of the material created in the '90s - and the way in which songs were presented.
"I think we just went back and listened," Roland said. "Going back and being able to reminisce; remember playing shows; remember why we got in (in) the first place. I listened to old live tapes of us, because I'd just forgotten what we sounded like back in the day. We were a rocking band. We just turned the guitars up and go. And I thought, 'That was why we started, and that's what we were into. Why not go back there?' "
"See What You Started By Continuing" is a guitar-driven album in keeping with early Collective Soul sound. The first single is a head-shake-worthy "This." It's now available as a free download on the band's website.
Fans also can listen to the second single, "AYTA," was which posted earlier this week.
To date, the band has performed seven of the album's 11 tracks live. Roland said the reaction from fans has been "great."
"And we got one that we play, also, that we took off the record, just because it has more of a slow tempo," he said. "We felt it was getting lost and it really didn't fit with all the rock stuff. We took that off (and) started playing two other songs just a couple of months ago. People seem to enjoy those. So we went in the studio real quick and added those onto the record."
"At first, we went out and we played the new songs first, because you have their attention," Roland said, laughing. "Then once we saw people really liked the songs - we do about three or four songs that people are familiar with, then I'll announce that we're about to do some new material. And it's worked out great so far."
With so many hit songs to mix in, making a setlist each night can be tricky.
"That one's kind of tough," Roland said. "With the shows we're doing right now, we're kind of sticking to 20 songs we'll rotate in and out of. We're going to try to bring it up to 30 and just kind of rotate. We want to do an acoustic part of the show. We haven't gotten there yet."
Collective Soul will perform Aug. 12 at the Erie County Fair grandstands.
"I think it's fun show," Roland said. "I try to communicate with the audience. I try to let them know that, whatever size venue it is, it's just like our rehearsal space. 'Welcome. Let's have fun.' "
The band will perform as part of a double-bill with 3 Doors Down. Click here for tickets or more information.
"We've done a couple of shows with them, and every show's been great," Roland said. "I think it's a good mixture. They're southern boys, too. We're southern. We have that culture together.
"It's just a rock show. They do just a great job - and they have tons of hits, too. To me, it's just a fun show. It's songs you've heard time and time again. It's fun to see shows like that."
Keep up with Collective Soul and "See What You Started By Continuing" by visiting http://www.collectivesoul.com.