Collective Soul's History:
Information from "Collective Soul 'Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid'" Editor: Tony Esposito.
Call it fate, or call it serendipity, but the break-out success of the Stockbridge, Georgia quintet known as Collective Soul is one of rock 'n' roll's more compelling stories. "For a long time, we were trying to get a record deal," begins Collective Soul vocalist/guitarist/songwriter/producer Ed Roland. "At one point, I just decided to shift directions- call it a young middle-age crisis. I didn't know where to go, or what to do. I just knew I had to do something, so I put together a songwriter demo, figuring I'd write tunes for other people."
Ed wrote a song to document this new mindset - an inspirational slice of pop perfection entitled "Shine". In the sweetest of ironies, this would be the song to win Roland and Collective Soul the deal that had begun to suspect would never come. Meanwhile, seeking some hometown exposure, the band sent their independently pressed debut album, "Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid," to the local college station, Atlanta's highly influential WRAS-FM. Included on the album was the aforementioned "Shine" it immediately caught the attention of the station's staff, who decided to test it on the air. No one could have predicted what happened next.
"Someone from RAS called up and said, 'This is unreal! Everybody's calling here, the reaction's great!,'" recounts Roland. With no promotional push, "Shine" became the station's most requested song. In short order, AOR and college stations throughout the Southeast began playing the track. "Hints..." started selling out at local stores, rivaling releases by major-label, multi-platinum artists.
Sensing the band's potential, Atlantic Senior VP Jason Flom flew to see them live. Impressed by their muscular show, he signed Collective Soul on the spot. Track for irresistible track, "Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid" is a primer in state of the art, hook-laden rock 'n' roll. Re-mastered for its Atlantic release, "Hints..." bursts with edgy guitars and soulful vocals, from the cool chorus and bluesy lick of "Wasting Time" to the lilting beat and intricate acoustic figure if "Reach". Going form whiplash rock ("Scream") to Beatlesque harmonies ("All"), Collective Soul harkens back to the days when each song on an album was a potential single.
The name Collective Soul comes from Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. "The main character in the novel refers to mankind as a 'collective soul.'" Ed explains. "That struck me as being very correct - we are all a Collective Soul.'" The 13 songs on "Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid" are imbued with a rare warmth and humanity. Whether singing about his grandfather's bout with leukemia ("Goodnight, Good Guy") or letting go of a disintegrating relationship ("Wasting Time"), Roland refrains from easy cynicism or knee-jerk angst.
A fan of everyone from Elton John and Michael Penn to AC/DC and King's X, Ed Roland grew up in a strict household. He and his brother Dean - now Collective Soul's guitarist - were discouraged from listening to the radio. The only rock 'n' rollers the young brothers heard were Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis - not bad role models for future musicians.
Following his muse, Ed left Stockbridge to study guitar at Boston's Berklee School of Music. "It was a get-out-of-the-house type thing. I went for one year, ran out of money, and came home." He started at a local 24-track recording studio, teaching himself how to record the songs he was constantly writing on guitar and piano. Over a period of five years, Ed and drummer Shane Evans survived a series of rock units, eventually evolving into the latter-day line up of Collective Soul.
As they prepare for widespread touring and future recording, the five boys from Stockbridge appreciate the whims of fate that have brought them this far. "For a new band to connect with people this way is exciting beyond words," Ed enthuses. Convincingly captured on "Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid." Collective Soul's good music and good vibes are downright contagious.
Collective Soul History
Information From AMG
With their catchy, melodic pop/rock and mildly distorted but warm guitar tone, Collective Soul leapt out of Stockbridge, Georgia to the top of the 1990s AOR world. Vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Ed Roland, whose parents prohibited listening to music, originally founded the band in the mid-'80s after dropping out of the Berklee School of Music due to lack of funds and getting a job in a 24-track recording studio. The band drew no interest whatsoever from any label, and a disheartened Roland called it quits in 1992 to put together a songwriter's demo in hopes of finding work. A demo of "Shine" caught the attention of several radio stations and eventually Atlantic Records, and Roland hastily put together a new version of Collective Soul with his brother Dean on guitar, Ross Childress on lead guitar, Will Turpin on bass, and original drummer Shane Evans. "Shine" became an AOR smash and was an inescapable hit on MTV and radio during the spring and summer of 1994; it helped the band's debut album, Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, sell over a million copies by the end of the year. Their self-titled follow-up was released in 1995 and spawned the radio hits "Gel," "December," and "The World I Know." Disciplined Breakdown, Collective Soul's third album, was released in March 1997; Dosage followed two years later and Blender was issued in fall 2000.
Collective Soul History
Information From Atlantic-Records.Com
"We were supposed to be the one-hit wonder of ’94 and then the two-hit wonder of ’95, but we never paid any attention to that stuff," says Collective Soul mainman Ed Roland. "We always knew what we could do as a band."
With eight #1 rock hits to their credit and worldwide sales in excess of 7 million, Collective Soul stands as one of the definitive groups of the ‘90s. Now, with the stunning "BLENDER," the Atlanta-based band is poised to begin the musical domination of a new century. The eleven-track album sees Collective Soul broadening their already-expansive pop palette with contemporary textures and rhythms, notably on such tracks as the driving first single, "Why Pt. 2," or "Perfect Day," a strikingly soulful duet between Roland and the one-and-only Elton John. "Front-loaded with penetrating, powerhouse riff rockers," Rolling Stone’s Parke Puterbaugh raved in his three-starred review, "‘BLENDER’ simply shreds with unapologetic classic-rock energy."
"We’re a guitar band," Roland says proudly. "That’ll always be the cornerstone of what Collective Soul does. And you can expand from that."
Produced by Roland and Anthony J. Resta, and mixed by Jack Joseph Puig (the Black Crowes, the Verve Pipe, Semisonic, Aimee Mann), Chris Lord-Alge (the Replacements, Hole, Rob Zombie, New Radicals), and Bob St. John (Duran Duran, Extreme), "BLENDER" was recorded on hometown turf at Crossover Studios in Atlanta. For their fifth longplayer, the five members of Collective Soul opted to take a very laid-back approach, gathering daily in their regular rehearsal space to write and record. The idea was to create an atmosphere of spontaneity in order to bring a sense of immediacy to the final product. Also, the band figured, if we have a good time, everybody listening will too!
"We had an absolute blast making this one," says Ed. "It was the most enjoyable one to make, mostly because everyone was in a good mindspace, there was no real drama going on in anyone’s life. Where we were recording was just a big room, so it kind of had an open vibe. We set up couches, people would come in and watch us – some of them, I don’t think they knew who we were. It was a real loose vibe, which was good, because with the last record, we spent a lot of time in the studio making sure everything was performed perfectly and arranged perfectly. This time we wanted to have a little more fun. We wanted to enjoy the process."
The open door policy led to cameo appearances from assorted family and friends, including some of Atlanta’s leading musicians, such as singer/songwriter Shawn Mullins, and Butch Walker and Jayce Fincher of the alt-pop combo Marvelous 3. In addition, the band’s hometown spirit saw them choosing the album’s title from more than 12,000 entries in the "Collective Soul-ection" contest sponsored by the local alternative station, WNNX (99X).
"We wanted to bring the community into the fold," Roland says. "We wanted to have Atlanta and Atlanta’s artists involved. It was the first time we felt comfortable, as a band, opening the door to Collective Soul’s world."
They might have taken a new path to get there, but the end result is classic Collective Soul. "BLENDER" is watermarked with the band’s patented three-guitar riffery, that irresistible head-on collision between pulverizing power-hooks, and Roland’s ever-memorable melodies. Among the hard-edged highlights are the pure-pop pyrotechnics of "Boast," the volatile album closer, "Happiness" (dig the screaming climax!), and the aforementioned "Why Pt. 2," the title of which begs the question – why "Pt. 2"?
Well, it turns out that Ed and Ross had written a song entitled "Why" back in the days when they were cutting the demos, which would later be collected on the band’s 1994 debut, "HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID." Though its only public appearance was on the B-side of an early international single release, Roland didn’t want his new song to be confused with its ancestral namesake.
"When I wrote this song, I was stuck on the word ‘why,’" he says. "I thought I’d change it, but I never could get it out of my head. I thought, not that many people heard the first one, they’re not related other than having the word ‘why’ in there, I’ll just be cute and clever and call it ‘Why Pt. 2.’"
Shimmering pop tunes like "10 Years Later" and "After All" owe a debt to New Wave icons like the Cars, even as they incorporate a distinctly modern energy. The "BLENDER" kick-off track, "Skin," gleefully rocks down Electric Avenue, while the turbo-stomper, "Vent," is fired by both cutting-edge beats and a heretofore unheard bellicosity from the frontman.
"Everybody’s a prick at some point," Ed says of the song’s confrontational hook, adding with a grin, "including myself. No, the song isn’t directed at anybody, I just think everybody has bad days, and you experience those days with other people. All these songs were written really quickly, so if something happened to me that day, that was going to be the lyric. When we were doing ‘Vent,’ Shawn Mullins was in the rehearsal space next door and he heard the groove and he said, ‘Hey, there’s this part in the breakdown, let me do something.’ And Jerald Jackson from Funkadelic, he was in another rehearsal space and he was like, ‘Man, I want to play clavinet on there!’ That song really represents how we did the recording; people would just stick their head in and go, ‘Hey, can I play?’"
Roland credits much of the album’s progressive mood and freewheeling sonic approach to co-producer Resta – known for his collaboration with Duran Duran, as well as his previous pairing with Collective Soul on 1998’s "DOSAGE" – who also contributed inventive programming and turntable work. "Anthony brought in an unbelievable spirit and attitude," Ed says. "He has more gadgets than we do, so we all had a good time just plugging stuff in and seeing what sounds would work. "We’ve learned a lot from our time in the studio," he adds, "so we know little tricks we can do. We’re not afraid of turning knobs here and there. That comes with growing as a band. I’d hate to be making the second record every time. We try to keep moving."
From Collective Soul’s very beginning, Roland has often credited "ELTON JOHN’S GREATEST HITS" as his introduction to the wonderful world of rock n’ roll, as well as his inspiration for becoming a songwriter. Sir Elton has since become a part-time resident of Atlanta, as well as a full-time friend of the band. "I heard from the grapevine that he’d really liked our first CD, so I tried to get in touch with his camp," Ed says, recalling his first encounter with his hero. "I wanted to say thank you for making me want to be a songwriter, y’know, pay homage. About 30 minutes later, Elton called me back. Which was a little overwhelming, it took a little while to get over that. He’s not intimidating at all, he makes you feel so comfortable, but he’s still Elton John. There’s no getting around that! "So we’d gotten to know him over the last five years," he continues, "and we were all at dinner one night, we’d gotten to a comfortable level, and we said, ‘Elton, would you mind singing on a song with us?’ And he said, ‘I’d love to, as long you let me play the piano.’ It was like, well, that’s the easiest deal we’ve ever made!"
They decided on "Perfect Day," which with its warm pop vibe and slinky soul groove, was clearly well suited for both the band and their special guest. The only problem was, Ed hadn’t entirely finished writing the lyrics! He worked long into the night before Elton’s scheduled studio time, just managing to finish before sunrise. The next day the superstar arrived at the studio and amazed Collective Soul with his enthusiasm, professionalism, and sheer talent. "He came in, listened to the song once, played the piano in two takes then got up and sang it in two takes," Roland says, still impressed. "Then we sat around and cut up all day. Like I said, we’ve gotten comfortable with him, but at the same time we were just like, ‘My God. It’s Elton John singing one of our songs!’ It’s a honor to know him, not just because of his music, because he’s such a good guy. He’s been so supportive of the band. He knows more about music than anybody I’ve ever met – he has more CDs than God! You see that excitement and that energy, and it’s very inspiring to the whole band."
While Roland has been outspoken regarding the impact of Seventies FM radio on Collective Soul, "BLENDER" features a surprising cover of "You Speak My Language," a song originally performed by the Boston-based low-rock trio, Morphine. The punk-powered track came about after a late-night studio discussion mourning the recent passing of the band’s frontman, Mark Sandman. "It’s something that I don’t think people would expect from Collective Soul," Ed says. "And what a great thing, if one Collective Soul fan listens to this and goes out and gets a Morphine record? If one person becomes a fan of Morphine because of us, that’s really cool. When we did the song – Morphine being a two-string bass and a baritone sax and drums, very sparse in the arrangements – we come at it in a very different way, and I think it shows what a great songwriter Mark Sandman was."
In addition to featuring Collective Soul’s first-ever cover version, "BLENDER" is adorned with the first-ever cover appearance by the band, with a set of portraits from renowned fashion photographer/video director David La Chappelle. "People have always said that we’re a quote-unquote ‘faceless band,’" Roland grins, "so we thought we’d be a little cute about it this time. We put our faces on the cover, so now we’re a body-less band. Over the next five CDs, we’ll gradually put the rest of us on there, so by our tenth CD, everybody’ll know what the band looks like. We’re just being smartasses, basically."
"The new breed of rock bands, a la Creed and Vertical Horizon, owe a big tip of the guitar pick to Collective Soul, which has been among the most consistent rock bands since the middle of the last decade," Billboard recently declared, noting that "This band has yet to miss the mark."
Collective Soul exploded out of their hometown of Stockbridge, Georgia onto the national consciousness with 1994’s RIAA double-platinum "HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID." The album – a collection of the band’s early demos, no less – was highlighted by the classic, RIAA gold-certified, #1 rock smash, "Shine." The group’s self-titled second album arrived the following year, and more than lived up to the promise of the debut, scoring RIAA triple platinum and logging a 76-week run on the Billboard 200. "COLLECTIVE SOUL" featured a remarkable quartet of singles – "Gel," "December," "Where The River Flows," and "The World I Know" – all of which rose to the #1 spot on the nation’s rock chart. Released in 1997, "DISCIPLINED BREAKDOWN" hit RIAA gold while Collective Soul’s chart-topping streak continued: Both "Precious Declaration" and "Listen" went on to hit #1 on the rock charts. The band’s fourth album, 1998’s platinum-certified "DOSAGE," saw Collective Soul furthering its run as rock radio superstars, as the "Heavy" single set a new high mark for weeks-at-#1 with a 14-week chart-topping reign. "I like being an old band," Ed Roland laughs. "Five CDs in six years, that’s something to be proud of. We like the fact that we’re ‘catalogue.’ We want to be one of those bands that gets two racks in the record store. We’re got enough for one, and now we’re ready to start working on our second rack."
No, not the Shack -- don't make us go back to the Shack!"
From the moment they began writing what would become their fourth Atlantic album, it was clear Collective Soul would not be returning to the remote cabin that served as the makeshift studio home to 1997's "DISCIPLINED BREAKDOWN." In comparison, the now infamous Shack made Big Pink look like Graceland. Furthermore, those sessions -- staged just a few miles from the group's Stockbridge, Georgia stomping grounds -- occurred during a difficult time in Collective Soul history. It was a period that prompted the guys to circle the proverbial wagons against an epic legal crisis -- if only to await the arrival of the cavalry.
"The conditions for recording just sucked," says a reflective Ed Roland, the group's singer/guitarist and chief songwriter. "On top of that, we were going through so much with band business. This time we wanted to do it right. We wanted to go to the other extreme and go to a great studio. We wanted some happy face going on." With that in mind, the quintet gathered at Miami's Criteria Studios -- beginning what would turn into an intensive six months of recording marked by a renewed sprit for writing. As their creative and technical powers pushed to new heights, the band eagerly explored and experimented -- witnessing numerous sunrises in the process.
"It was really a matter of our willingness to take chances, to see what happy accidents might occur... or ugly accidents," says Ed before taking on a decidedly Yoda tone. "There was no right or wrong -- just try."
From the dynamic ELO-inspired sounds of "Tremble For My Beloved" to the thoughtful piano-and-guitar interplay of "No More, No Less" and the utterly cinematic "Crown," the Ed Roland-produced "DOSAGE" reveals a band flush with the confidence to reveal all aspects of their musical character. At the same time, Collective Soul remain steadfast in their commitment to rock and passion for the sound of electric guitars.
"When we started the record, the first thing everybody said was how we wanted songs with big guitars, " says guitarist Ross Childress. "That's why we were so thrilled to have Tom Lord-Alge do the mix. Tom understands rock, he understands guitars. I don't know what he does, he just does it well."
During the course of their marathon recording (completed at Tree Studios in Atlanta), each member of Collective Soul took free reign in contributing to the proceedings in any and every way. "That was the cool thing about this record," says guitarist Dean Roland. "Nobody was confined to their instruments. I mean, we recorded songs with Will on vibes -- which is what he majored in at college. Shane played a lot of percussion and did the loops and even played bass on one song. Will played a lot of percussion, too.
"I'm not a keyboard player but it was kind of fun to pretend like I was," adds Ed. "We're so fortunate that the band is able to change things up to that degree. Each time that happens it adds anther dimension to the group." The ethic extended to the writing process as well, evidenced by the Childress-penned "Dandy Life." For Collective Soul, it is the first time someone other than Ed has stepped out to record a lead vocal. "In the end, I wish I'd have written that song," says Ed. "It's a great pop tune. So I'm really proud of him and excited that we did it.
Continuing the album's series of firsts, "Slow" is unique as the first Collective Soul song co-written by the Roland brothers.
"People ask me now, 'How can you sing someone else's words?' Well, he's my brother," explains Ed. "I understand exactly where he's coming from because, basically, we live with each other. I know he's of his own mind, but our surroundings are the same."
As the band looks forward to the arrival of "DOSAGE," the album's "Run" track is making early introductions through its inclusion on the soundtrack to Varsity Blues, the MTV-produced motion picture starring Dawson Creek's James Van Der Beek and Jon Voight. The dynamic, stirring song also serves as an effective road map to the origins of Collective Soul.
"Lyrically, 'Run' is a tribute to the artists that inspired me to even want to be a musician -- they're the same ones that inspire me now," explains Ed. "It's about trying to get back to what has inspired me. The song is a tribute to Elton and Bernie and Jeff Lynne, and, of course, the Beatles. If it wasn't for them, y'know, I don't know what would have happened with music. It's hard to tell. They are the history of rock."
It's been some five years since Collective Soul climbed from their hometown rehearsal cellar to watch their first Atlantic release, 1994's "HINTS ALLEGATIONS AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID," begin its exhilarating ride. The year had started out unceremoniously: Ed was still working at the local Reel To Reel recording studio; Dean and bassist Will Turpin were taking classes at Georgia State University; Ross was pulling shifts at the RevCo pharmacy; and drummer Shane Evans was winding out his unemployment since the lay-offs at nearby Fort Gilliam ended his maintenance job.
As "HINTS..." took off, the group took to the stage before the mud-soaked throngs and MTV cameras at Woodstock '94 and played a marathon string of arena concerts with Aerosmith. "Our heads were spinning," says Childress. "It was all so surreal we could hardly absorb what was going on." The group's first single, "Shine," earned RIAA gold and was named Billboard's #1 Hot Album Rock Track of 1994, while winning the Billboard Music Award for "Album Rock Song of the Year." Looking back, what initially rang as a runaway, out-of-the-box success was the sound of a band merely gearing up to reach its true potential.
"We're grateful for what 'HINTS...' did," says Ed of what was essentially his songwriting demo. "We were very shocked. I'd been hoping to sell just enough to be able to make a real Collective Soul album."
Following "HINTS..." and the unanticipated year in the spotlight, the group was finally able to hit the studio to polish off their first fully realized band effort -- a bracing collection of guitar-driven tracks. To underscore its "debut" status, they titled the 1995 set simply "COLLECTIVE SOUL." Accolades and airplay accompanied the album on what would become a 76-week run on the Billboard 200.
"Collective Soul makes every note count," declared a Musician cover story. "'Deceptively simple' is a dreadful cliche, but the music truly is simple riff-based rock, and it's deceptive because the songs are so catchy and the arrangements are clever. All of them."
Early that year, Collective Soul embarked on an eight-week sold-out opening stint on Van Halen's U.S. arena tour. The group then directed the conviction and energized performance honed during opening-slot gigs to their headlining tour. "It was our stage," says Ed. "It was like having your own car, as opposed to borrowing your parents all the time... anything goes." Their summer-long U.S. tour, which was nominated for Pollstar's "Club Tour of the Year" award, was followed by a month-long headlining tour of Europe.
From the concert stage to the television studio, the band brought their enthusiasm before the cameras for multiple appearances on the Late Show with David Letterman, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, and Late Night with Conan O'Brien. Fans began tracing the bands movements through a newly launched set of internet websites, among them the "Csoul.com" fan site.
Along with their other '95 highlights was the chance to contribute a track to "WORKING CLASS HERO: A TRIBUTE TO JOHN LENNON" ("Jealous Guy"). "We were very proud to be asked to be a part of that album," says Ed, one of the group's five Beatles devotees. "The hardest thing about it was settling on just one song to record." A remarkable year was capped off when "COLLECTIVE SOUL"'s "December" single was named Billboard's #1 Hot Album Rock Track of 1995 and won the Billboard Music Award for "Album Rock Song of the Year" -- giving Collective Soul the distinction of being the only band to earn the award two years in a row. "December" went on to set a rock radio record with nine weeks at #1. The band also topped the rock chart with "Where The River Flows" and "The World I Know" (also an alternative & adult alternative #1).
After earning RIAA platinum with "HINTS...," the band would go one better in January of 1996, with the double platinum certification of the self-titled second album. By September, seemingly in response to the subsequent double platinum achievement of "HINTS...," "COLLECTIVE SOUL" surpassed the triple platinum mark.
In the fall of 1996, Collective Soul set up shop in a glorified shack deep within the kudzu-blanketed woods of their Stockbridge, Georgia hometown. After seemingly endless months on the road in support of their self-titled second album, the quintet was looking forward to writing new songs and scratching out some demos. The well-sequestered cabin proved the perfect setting.
With an open-ended schedule, the band turned the kitchen into a performance space and began what they expected was pre-production on what would become their third Atlantic album. Before they realized, they'd cut 20 songs. With one more creative outburst and some help from venerable The Memphis Horns, final touches on were completed at the House of Blues studios in Memphis.
Released in 1997 the resulting "DISCIPLINED BREAKDOWN," earned RIAA gold while revealing an ever-expanding songcraft and range of expression. Throughout that year, the band made return appearances on both The Tonight Show With Jay Leno and Late Night With Conan O'Brien, launched a major headlining tour of North America (which included a high-profile performance at the Blockbuster RockFest at the Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth), and twice climbed back to the #1 position on the nation's rock charts -- with "Precious Declaration," the album's first single, followed by "Listen."
In contemplating the band's history, what's become particularly noteworthy is Collective Soul's ascendancy onto a rarefied list of '90s-era bands with four albums to their credit. "It seems like the times just don't allow that -- with everything being so oriented to the hit song these days," says Ed. "That's something I'm very proud of. We actually have a catalog -- and even better, we've done it with no changes in membership."
The Roland brothers grew up in a music-filled, but strict, household where listening to the radio was closely monitored. As a kid, Ed heard little rock 'n' roll other than that of Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis. For their father, a Southern Baptist minister, pop and rock music had no place in the Roland household -- at first, that is. "The brunt of those restrictions were on Ed because he was the oldest," remembers Will. "By the time Dean was a bit older, he could listen to pretty much anything he wanted. Sure, there were certain records Mr. Roland didn't want in the house, but he could play those at one of our houses. It was never a problem."
At age 13, Ed encountered "ELTON JOHN'S GREATEST HITS" -- it was the album that convinced him he'd become a songwriter. "Elton really introduced me to rock 'n' roll," says Ed. "I remember seeing him when I was young and thinking, 'Wow, that's what it's all about.' He was jumping around and having a blast. I love that. As far as rock 'n' roll goes, I guess I'm an old fashioned kind of guy."
Ed took his growing passion for music from Stockbridge to Boston, where he studied guitar at the Berklee College of Music. After a year, he returned home to begin work at the Reel To Reel recording studio, owned by Will's father. During more than eight years there -- much spent as the facility's head engineer -- Ed earned his technical know-how working behind the boards on demo projects with an continuing stream of regional rock bands. With his unlimited access to the studio, Ed also spent long hours cutting the catalog of songs he was writing on piano and guitar -- the one-and-two-take recordings that would eventually become "HINTS..." Nine years younger than Ed, Dean didn't take up the guitar until he was 19. "When the inspiration hit, it hit hard," says Dean, who had never played in a band prior to his joining Collective Soul in early 1993. "Playing guitar was all I wanted to do. Being in Collective Soul was part of that excitement."
For Ed and Dean, their blood relationship isn't vastly different from the one that bonds the band as a whole. "We're all that tight," says Dean. "As a kid, I was at Will's house as much as I was at my own. And Shane and Will have been best friends forever and Ross hung out at the Turpin's all the time because he lived right across the street. We've been connected that way for as long as I can remember."
Will first met the Roland brothers at the local Baptist church, where he was part of Mr. Roland's choir. His relationship with Ross goes back to Cub Scouts and Little League. He and Shane played together in the marching band drum line for three years. "It's kind of funny how our growing up together has made it so we even think alike," says Will laughing. "There are times we'll all show up to dinner wearing the same shirt. We're individuals but we communicate on this weird unspoken level. Musically, it makes for the ideal situation. Our strength is our chemistry."
In high school, Ross, Shane, and Will were constantly in and out of bands with each other. "We'd play some of our own songs and covers from bands like REM and U2," says Will. "But we also spent a lot of time listening to Van Halen and Led Zeppelin and watching Rush videos."
After graduation, Will began pursuing percussion studies -- primarily on marimba and timpani -- at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Though not an official member of the group until early 1994, he'd often join the band on stage as a backing vocalist or add percussion tracks to songs Ed was working on at Reel To Reel. The day he joined Collective Soul, he went out and bought his first bass. "It made real good sense because Shane and I knew how to lock in rhythmically from our snare drum days in marching band. I watched him learn almost everything he knows."
Shane, in contrast, started his musical pursuits when he was ten-years-old and got a bass guitar for Christmas. Though a concert band drummer throughout middle school and high school, he was always being recruited by friends to play bass in various basement bands. In 1989, when the opportunity arose to play drums with Ed in his pre-Collective outfit, Marching Two-Step, he grabbed it.
Ross began playing guitar at nine when his parents got him an acoustic guitar. By junior high he was playing electric guitar and music had become an obsession. "I spent so much money on records that my dad was worried about me," says Ross, who was listening to everything from Ozzy Osbourne to Run DMC. After high school, he played with a number of rock bands -- including one that, in 1991, opened a show in Atlanta for Marching Two-Step. Within a week, Ross was the newest member of the band that would soon become Collective Soul.
As much as things have changed since those early days, one thing remains constant: the band's enthusiasm for the music and their dedication to finding new creative modes. It is precisely that quality that drove Collective Soul enlarge to scope of their performance and writing roles.
"For the next record I think we'll even expand that more to where you'll see Shane and Will singing and writing," says Ed. "I mean, all the Beatles got to sing their songs. They're the ones that wrote the rulebook on rock 'n roll, which is that there are no rules."
Collective Soul History
Information From Launch.Com
With a compelling mix of shimmering melodies and driving rock, Collective Soul has proven to be one of the more adaptable groups emerging in the brave new post-alternative world. The band's members all hail from Stockbridge, Ga., where they first met in high school. Various members of the quintet did time on the local Atlanta club scene in different groups before eventually being brought together as the current Collective Soul. Soul founder Ed Roland was a Berkeley school drop-out who had given up hope for an earlier incarnation of the band when he started shopping a songwriter demo, recorded in 1993 at a small independent studio where he worked for bassist Will Turpin's father. Roland's earnest do-it-yourself ethic paid off when one of the songs on the demo, "Shine," began garnering airplay on a university-run station in Georgia and later a commercial station in Florida. A major-label deal prompted the release of what was to become Hints, Allegations, And Things Left Unsaid, a debut LP released in 1994 that comprised performances by Roland and a drum machine. The album also prompted the hasty gathering of a new version of Collective Soul, which included Ed's brother Dean (guitar), Ross Childress (guitar), Turpin (bass) and Shane Evans (drums). Collective Soul (1995), the group's first fully-realized "band" effort, yielded a string of radio hits including "Untitled" and "December," with a follow-up, Disciplined Breakdown (1997) promising to bring the group more mainstream success.
With Roland's songwriting sensibilities and the rest of the group's ability to develop a wide range of atmospheres over a solid rock backbone, Collective Soul has the potential to transcend most of what comes out of the late-'90s alt-rock arena. The band's latest, Dosage, is especially adventurous, with poppy songs that are at times surprisingly reminiscent of ELO, though probably not calculatedly so.
Collective Soul History
Information From RollingStone.Com
A long, long time ago, when Ricky Martin was just a gleam in his parents' ojos, when "N Sync" meant nothing more to a sixth-grade girl than another summer in remedial spelling, the music industry was very different than it is today. Bands wrote their own songs, played their guitars LOUD and growled unabashedly bombastic lyrics about the state of humanity. Albums were intended as cohesive artistic statements, with any track fair game for radio airplay. Moreover, careers often lasted longer than the chart run of a gimmicky single. Stockbridge, Ga.'s Collective Soul is a throwback to those halcyon days of album rock. Almost singularly among rock bands, Collective Soul has remained relevant and commercially viable despite the resurgence of teen pop and the rise of hip-hop.
Collective Soul first made waves with the 1994 album Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, which began as a collection of demos singer/guitarist Ed Roland recorded while working at a Stockbridge studio. One of the songs, "Shine," became a regional hit in the Southeast, leading to a contract with Atlantic Records. Roland recruited his brother Dean (rhythm guitar) and local friends Ross Childress (lead guitar), Will Turpin (bass) and Shane Evans (drums) to form the full-fledged Collective Soul.
"Shine" exploded nationally, fueling multi-platinum sales for Hints.... The song itself was named Billboard's Album Rock Song of the Year for 1994. The band, whose members had been playing together for years in various combinations, toured with Aerosmith and appeared at Woodstock '94, where they basked in the sound of hundreds of thousands of mud-soaked fans singing along to "Shine."
Collective Soul made its full-band album in 1995. The record, self-titled to emphasize its debut status, would go on to sell more than 3 million copies. Its first single, "December," garnered another Billboard Album Rock Song of the Year award for Collective Soul, who became the first band to win the award two years in a row. Another single, "The World I Know," hit No. 1 on the Alternative and Adult Alternative charts. After a tour with Van Halen, Collective Soul capped 1995 with its first headlining tour.
Disciplined Breakdown, the band's third album, slumped a bit in sales. However, the 1997 release was still certified gold and spawned No.1 rock radio singles in "Precious Declarations" and "Listen." Collective Soul returned in 1999 with the critically acclaimed Dosage and the single "Run," which became a hit when it was released on the Varsity Blues soundtrack.
Collective Soul History (Up To Dis. Breakdown)
Success can't spoil Collective Soul
BY JONATHAN GALAIF
After playing for several years in Atlanta's local club scene, Ed Roland's band, Collective Soul, broke up in January of '93. While the other three members decided to play in cover bands to make money, Roland swore he wouldn't take that path, preferring to remain true to his creative desires.
Following his heart, he holed up alone in a basement studio, recording a demo tape of a number of his original songs -- including one with a catchy guitar part he'd written back in 1987. Yet, instead of being just the requisite entry to procuring a record deal so he could re-record the material, that tape became a regional success, forcing Roland to reform the band before the tape was released by a major label. Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid went "multi-platinum," selling well over a million copies -- powered, in part, by the success of "Shine," the song Roland wrote years earlier -- and Collective Soul suddenly became one of the biggest-selling acts of 1994.
Their new release -- titled simply Collective Soul because it is the first record that features the entire band -- has also registered platinum sales. Ed Roland and guitarist Ross Childress, drummer Shane Evans, bassist Will Turpin and guitarist Dean Roland finally seem to be on solid ground. But just when things ought to be looking up -- good record sales, their first headlining tour -- the band is involved in a lawsuit with their former manager and production company. All of their assets are frozen.
It's an old story, one that's been heard before: A struggling young artist desperate to succeed signs a contract with a manager, giving up the rights to his own work as well as large percentages of future income. Billy Joel, Sting, Bruce Springsteen and Tom Petty -- all are artists who were taken advantage of and had to interrupt the creative process to do battle in the courtroom. Neither the members of Collective Soul nor their former manager, Bill Richardson of Rising Storm Productions, will comment on the matter, which is currently in litigation, though music industry sources speculate that the contract between the band and Richardson was extremely restrictive and unfair. Involved in a courtroom battle that prevents them from receiving the money they have worked tirelessly to earn, these platinum-selling musicians have performed without a break for 21 months, currently receiving only $20 a day while on tour to cover food expenses.
Still the band endures, conquering new creative outposts with a defiant spirit, good humor and an integrity that has come under fire since the earliest days of their success.
From the beginning Collective Soul has taken hard hits, including their losing battle to survive the local club scene. As Roland explains, "We always did showcases and always got enough record company attention (for A&R people) to come down (from New York and L.A.) and go, 'Well it's not quite there.' Enough to just keep going." But not forever. Then, following the band's breakup, the demo of "Shine" that Roland recorded was rejected virtually everywhere he sent it, including the band's current label, which turned it down twice. Roland refused to give up, eventually sending the demo to WRAS, the Georgia State University-run radio station in Atlanta, and other stations in the Southeast. A commercial station in Orlando, Fla., WJRR, soon added "Shine" to its playlist; at that station, says independent promoter Al Moss, the song was "always the number-one phone request."
Roland recalls, "We started selling the demos ourselves in Orlando. We were the number-two seller there." At this point, Roland quickly reassembled the band, with some changes.
Bassist Will Turpin recounts, "I was always there with them in the studio, hanging out, and I watched Ed develop as a songwriter." One day Turpin told Roland he could do better than their then-current bass player, and he was added to the band. The final addition was Roland's younger brother Dean on rhythm guitar.
By the time Atlantic Records regional promoter Kim Stephens heard about the band, "Shine" was already a huge regional hit. When Stephens ran into Moss at a listening party for another band, Moss gave him the Collective Soul sales figures. Soon the band signed with Atlantic Records, which released the record unchanged -- as Moss insists, the "same album with the same cover" -- essentially, the demo as Roland had originally recorded it, on his own and with a drum machine.
Roland, who had wanted to re-record the demo of Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid with the entire band, had reservations. "My whole thing was, this is nothing but demos," he recalls. "We almost felt guilty because it really wasn't a band but it was being projected as one. It wasn't a true representation of Collective Soul."
It was then that Collective Soul took its next beating -- from the local music press who, alerted to the drum machine and the fact that it was only Roland on the tape, accused them of not being a "real" band. Explains lead guitarist Ross Childress: "It was strange in the beginning. Some people didn't necessarily like us because it was a drum machine, but they didn't know that it was a demo. It was very hard, but we kept touring and tried to get the second CD out as quick as we could."
Next, Atlanta's 99X criticized the band when they declined an invitation to be on David Letterman's show because "Shine" didn't fit into Letterman's three-and-a-half-minute time slot. The station's DJs had a field day berating the band for such poor judgment; they even allowed a former band member, who had called the station to comment, to trash the band without telling him he was on the air.
And then there was the big question: Had Collective Soul really paid their dues in the local clubs? According to Mickey Turpin, the bass player's brother, "They didn't play out too much really; they were more a recording band in the beginning." The fact is, members of Collective Soul, separately and together, had all worked in clubs for years, chasing that elusive rock-and-roll dream.
A brief history of Ed
The members of the band grew up in Stockbridge, Ga., a small town of less than 2,000 people just south of Atlanta. Ed Roland's father, a Baptist minister, remembers carrying 8-year-old Ed to see a classical guitarist perform at the Civic Auditorium in Rome, Ga. From then on, he says, the boy was hooked. After a stint at Berklee College of Music in Boston, the younger Roland returned home to work as a sound engineer at Real 2 Reel Recording, a studio owned by Will Turpin's father, where he worked with local artists Kristen Hall, RuPaul and members of drivin' n cryin'. At the same time, Roland played around Atlanta in a succession of original bands, one of which was Marching Two Step, formed in 1989, whose members included Shane Evans. Shortly after Ross Childress joined the band in 1990, Marching Two Step hardened its sound and became Collective Soul. Meanwhile, Childress, Evans and Will Turpin were in a cover band called Groove Box. All of these musicians had known each other for most of their lives. "We all grew up within a mile of each other," recalls Roland. "Everybody knew everybody. It's a wonder it took so long for us to play together."
Not only did the band work for an additional three years in local clubs, but after Roland made his last-ditch effort -- recording the demo alone in his manager's basement, then sending it to record companies, radio stations and music publishers -- the band themselves marketed their tape.
Success, when it came, was fast and disorienting. The first change, Roland recalls, was that "people actually showed up at our shows!" At a radio benefit, which the band frequently played, "there might be 250 people there because there were four bands that night. But anytime we just headlined at Good Ol' Days or the Star Bar, there were never more than 25 people. Then that first show at the Cotton Club after we were signed had about 500 people. And then we went from 500-seat clubs to amphitheaters opening for Aerosmith!"
With the Atlantic promotional machine behind it, "Shine" topped the singles charts in 1994 for eight weeks, and Collective Soul played Woodstock and opened for both Aerosmith and Van Halen. However, while Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid eventually went platinum, Roland knew the success stemmed from their hit single. "It was the song 'Shine'; it wasn't anything about Collective Soul," he says. To prove themselves, the band "asked the record company (if they) could get in the studio and do a quick release of the next record. They were very supportive and let us do that."
The 1995 release, Collective Soul, co-produced by Roland's longtime partner Matt Serletic (who also co-produced the Hints demos), landed a song on The Jerky Boys soundtrack ("Gel") and spawned the huge radio hit "December." From the first lick of the opening cut "Simple," the band rocks hard. The slower songs groove to themes of the unfulfilled potential of the modern world ("The World I Know"), misplaced trust and lust ("December"), and the return home of a world-worn traveler ("Reunion"). Touring behind the record, Collective Soul has been like a locomotive that pulses and burns, smoking its way across the country. The band embarked on its first headlining tour this summer and finally appeared on David Letterman's show in September, their momentum unfortunately slowed by Roland's lawsuit against his former manager and production company.
There are those who charge that without Bill Richardson, the band would never have been successful. Among these claimants is Paul Yeskel of Aim Marketing in New York, who, along with Al Moss, was responsible for first breaking the band in Orlando. Yeskel would not comment on the lawsuit, but remarked that Richardson had invested everything in the band and did everything for them. "I mean, Ed was living at Richardson's house!" Yeskel declares.
But whether they win or lose this current battle, past experiences suggest that Collective Soul will forge on.
As they consistently sell out 2,000-seat venues on their first headlining tour, the members of Collective Soul continue to face challenges with integrity intact, as evidenced by their recent refusal to lengthen the song "Reunion" on the new album, despite pressure from Atlantic Records.
Still, undaunted by collective troubles, Roland and his bandmates feel lucky to be able to play their music for a living. "We all have the same goal," says Roland, "and we know where we want to take this."
The most surprising thing about success, Roland adds, is "The success! I mean, there's still days when you wake up and you go 'Wow, I can't believe this.'" As for future recording plans, Roland has been writing songs on the road. "We've got about 20 songs now for the next record, so we'll go through that pick-and-choose ordeal. We hope to start recording again in January and put another record out next year. And, you know, crank the machine up again."
Asked if he has any advice for up-and-coming bands or songwriters, Roland returns once more to that demo that went from basement to world. "Get it on a CD or cassette," he counsels, "and send it to anybody and everybody you can. I mean you just never know. And that's what happened to us; we were very fortunate. You never ever know."