Since the release of their album Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid — the album that gave the world the hit single “Shine” — Collective Soul has been a force in our collective consciousness.
A string of hit songs and albums followed and now, 25 years later, Collective Soul is unwilling to just coast along on its previous accomplishments and hits.
With the release last week of Blood, Collective Soul is rejecting the notion that record albums are no longer a necessary or viable commodity in the 21st century music industry.
“The album format still works for us,” said Will Turpin, the band’s bass player. “We still get together to create songs, and to capture that collection — whether it’s a photo album or a record album — it still matters to us. It may be different in pop music where you can just release different singles, but in rock you can’t just focus on singles. Taking the marketing and business aside, there’s still something about making an album that’s important. Then once you have that album, you make the business part work after that.
“Making an album is not a business decision for us,” he continued. “We put art first so we didn’t decide to make an album. We just did it.”
The original intent as Collective Soul began working on Blood was to release a double album. Instead, they’ve opted for one album’s worth of music on Blood and then a later release — perhaps as early as next spring — of Blood, Part 2.
Each will have its own unique sound to offer.
“It came together pretty organically,” Turpin said. “There was only one song that I wanted to see on this one that got pushed back to the next one. But this one is a little more rock while Part 2 will be a more of the mid-tempo ballads and the songs with more orchestration.”
The Trio are Tight
The original five musicians who first comprised Collective Soul included lead singer Ed Rolland (who now goes by E Rolland), his brother Dean, Turpin, Ross Childress, and Shane Evans.
Childress and Evans both left the band some time ago, and these days guitarist Jesse Triplett and drummer Johnny Rabb round out the quintet. Turpin, who grew up with the Rolland brothers in Stockbridge, Ga., has remained on bass for a quarter century.
But for that trio, 25 years doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of their relationship.
“You have to realize that my earliest memories are of Ed and Dean,” Turpin said. “And their earliest memories are of me. Their dad was a Southern Baptist minister, and my dad was in the music business, so I guess you could say my dad was more into the sin and rock. But our families go way back, and our grandfathers knew each other. We grew up two streets apart. So it’s not a matter of whether I stay or go.
“We all feel great when we’re together and we’re making music. It’s electric when we go up there and grab our instruments and change the way people feel. Music can make people heal. It can bring back memories like something happened yesterday. Nobody knows the three of us better than we do. Not even our wives.”
Although Turpin and the Rollands are a tight unit, it hasn’t meant that they can’t tackle projects outside of Collective Soul. In fact, even when each works on a solo project they often appear in them all, fully supporting all of their creative outlets.
“Creatively, when Dean or Ed or I have projects we’ve worked on outside of Collective Soul, it’s only made us stronger as a whole,” Turpin said. “As great as it is when we as individuals can get outside of the band and do something else, when we do get back together, we’re stronger and we have a realization about why we’re successful. We plug in and hear it and go, ‘Oh it’s that.’ We’ve recharged our batteries.
“Those side projects are part of the reason that we have been successful. It’s never about going on our own or doing something instead of Collective Soul.”
Touring Keeps them alive
With two new albums already recorded and a steady stream of tour dates ahead, the next 12 months are set for Collective Soul. They continue to tour regularly, soon to hit Canada and South America as well as the United States, which is now an important part of the life of musicians.
While there was a time that touring was intended to sell the albums, which were the meat and potatoes of the music industry, that paradigm has been flipped on its head. Now touring is where band’s make their income, and Turpin admits that it keeps them on the road more often than not.
“We still enjoy each other’s company, still have a lot of fun and laughs together,” he said. “But we tour to bring in more money, to be perfectly honest. Once you become a ‘legacy band,’ which is what they call those of us who have been around a long time, you can really start making some money at it. We’re still at the top of our game and still kicking ass.
“There was a time when we were starting out that we insisted that our tickets not be more than $20 so that our friends and college age kids could come to see us. And we still try to keep our tickets at least 10 percent lower than some of our peers. But now we can go out there and compete in the market, and we’re seeing more and more kids coming out to see us now, kids who grew up listening to our music. There are a lot of young bands now that are great, but they’re not necessarily rock n’ roll. We’re happy to be one of those bands with a legacy of rock.”
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