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| 16 July 2021 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “Multi-Platinum, Georgia-bred rockers COLLECTIVE SOUL–Ed Roland (vocals / keyboards / guitar), Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), Will Turpin (bass), Jesse Triplett (lead guitar), Johnny Rabb (drums)—celebrated their 25th anniversary in 2019 in all-out style with the June 21, 2019 release of their tenth studio album, BLOOD, on Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA. Now that things are slowly getting back to “normal,” they’re heading out on the road again. They just wrapped up their first-ever joint tour with STYX, and now they’re heading out on their own for the rest of 2021. Indelibly memorable tracks like “December,” “The World I Know,” “Gel,” “Heavy,” and “Precious Declaration” (to name but a few) all evoke a collective sense of heartfelt observational universality and earnest positivity — in short, they’re the jukebox heroes of a new generation. Indeed, the secret sauce to COLLECTIVE SOUL’s continued success story is a simple one: a palpable mixture of insightful songwriting and impeccable band chemistry. COLLECTIVE SOUL rose to international fame in 1993 with the rock anthem “Shine.” The multi-Platinum quintet has a catalog of #1 hits under their belts that has helped shape and define alternative rock. They’ve sold over 20 million records worldwide and continue to average over one million Spotify streams per month. They were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame in 2009.” We get guitarist Dean to discuss new art, motivation, his foundation, and much more…

Toddstar: Dean, thank you so much for taking time out of your schedule, man. I know you guys are busy right now, so we really appreciate you taking time.

Dean: It’s all good, yeah man, no problem, thank you.

Toddstar: It’s almost like a brand new world. We’re all able to enjoy some live rock and roll right now.

Dean: No kidding right?

Toddstar: It’s got to be even more intense for you guys being able to get out there and actually hit the stage and do what you guys do best. You did last week in Toledo, you played the Promenade Park, and you got a date coming up here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. So what was it like hitting that stage for the first time in such a long time when you guys got up there recently?

Dean: It was funny, backstage I was talking to my brother, I was like, “What is this strange feeling I’m feeling? I’m actually a little nervous, I haven’t felt this in 20 years.” I mean, we’ve gotten so accustomed to it. We get excited to play, the crowds and all of those things, and adrenaline swelling, but the nerves, I haven’t felt that in a minute where it’s like, “Oh gosh, do I know what I’m doing?” It was fun, it’s exhilarating and great to just get back up there and see people enjoying it and doing the same thing, it’s fantastic.

Toddstar: Did you feel a different kind of vibe flowing back and forth from the stage? Because you guys are doing this and you’re back out there and getting past those jitters and getting that adrenaline going, but the crowds got their whole same thing going on. Did you feel a different energy or is it just that same?

Dean: Yeah, just probably a little bit, to be honest a lot of it was probably from us or certainly individually. We haven’t quite hit the flow, we’re mid-tour, mid-season form, so to speak, you’re cruising through and you’re commanding what you’re doing and you’re beyond the nerve part or the second guessing part. It’s still that little degree, and it’s like, “Oh shit,” we’re not quite locked in yet, but that makes it that much more fun to be honest, it’s just kind of right on the edge of calamity, if you will. That probably created a little bit more of a thrill, just kind of sitting on the edge of our seat. There was definitely a different energy and it was fun. It was a blast.

Toddstar: Very cool. You guys released Blood back in June 2019, so you didn’t even really get the whole advantage of a touring cycle behind that one before the world kind of shut down. And then in downtime, you guys actually decided to jump out there and release Half & Half in October 2020. How different was it for you guys to kind of put some material together and cultivate new stuff to launch upon the fans, when you couldn’t even put your hand on it and get the temperature of the water, so to speak?

Dean: Well, Half & Half, we recorded the EP Record Store Day; we did two cover songs and two originals. We had recorded that prior to the pandemic happening and then we released it during the pandemic, but we did go into, a relatable answer to your question, we went in and recorded a bunch of new material toward the end of last year, having not played it. Most times when playing new music, we’ll just throw it in here or there in the set, or we’ll at least do sound checks and get a vibe for how it feels live, and then kind of take some of that back into the studio. This time we just wrote it and it was all studio vibed out and it was cool. We’ve done [inaudible 00:04:37] approaches over the years. I think I almost prefer doing the live, playing it live, testing it out, and just getting that vibe and then going into the studio. But both of them I find interesting, you’re still going to go in and create and let the song take you where it should take you.

Toddstar: I can appreciate you saying that the live vibe kind of helps you round it out a little better, just because you’re getting that back and forth and that true feel from it. Everybody can, not everybody, but you guys can record music all day long, but it doesn’t translate live, how much fun is it really for you guys?

Dean: There are certain songs that we’ve done that we’ve gone, “We probably won’t ever play this live,” that’s just the way it is, but it’s okay, music’s music, it all has its own place somewhere.

Toddstar: You being a musician and an artist, how hard was the pandemic on you and your craft? I mean, you weren’t able to get out there and play, so you also had to find some other avenue for that artistic kind of vein. What did you do to kill the time and how much has it altered the way you approach it now?

Dean: Well, for starters, my wife and I had our first daughter, so we have a two year old. So I was able to spend a lot of home time, daddy time with family. That was super cool. In any other year, I would have not experienced the things I experienced, from that perspective, which was amazing. Then from a musician and creative standpoint, it was a lot of time on my hands, and I just wrote a bunch of songs and listened to a bunch of music and just went in my head and made notes, wrote lyrics, and got some stuff accomplished. And now I’ve got to go in and execute on some of those things, and we got to do some of that with the Collective Soul stuff last year, we recorded. So you just stay busy. I viewed it as an opportunity with no excuses and no distractions, and try to stay healthy and then go in and keep being creative, as possible.

Toddstar: You mentioned that you guys have been recording new stuff. Collective Soul’s one of those bands that just chugs along year, after year, after year, and you always seem to stay relevant. What’s the magic to you guys kind of holding on to that relevance album cycle after album cycle and tour cycle after tour cycle? What is it about you guys and your crowd and your fans that keeps you relevant?

Dean: I don’t know. I mean, I think if you manage to stick around long enough, you can hopefully transition into a younger generation. So now our shows, we have the people that were our fans 25 years ago, are now parents and their kids are coming to shows. So there’s that kind of thing that happens hopefully. I’d like to think that our passion is music and it’s always been that way, and as far as the band goes, we enjoy one another. We enjoy making music with one another, and that’s the one true commonality. I’d like to think that the passion comes through in the music and the real authenticity of that exists, and people connect with it. That might be too idealistic, I don’t know, that’s a very difficult question to answer. I don’t think there’s any kind of deliberateness or there’s a science to it. I mean, we just kind of do what we do and try to be as authentic as possible.

Toddstar: So you mentioned 25 years, and this year is the 28th anniversary of your debut album, Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, but you guys have been a unit for damn near 30 years now. You, your brother, and Will kind of plugged along and you’ve been doing this for so long. How easy is it for you guys to balance the friendship along with being band members, along with being individuals, to be able to crank this out for so long? 30 years – I know people that can’t stay married for 30 years, let alone be friends.

Dean: Well, obviously Ed and I we’re brothers, so that was existing way before we were in a band, and then Will and Ed and I were friends before. I have known Will as long as I’ve known anybody, since I was conscious, he’s been a part of our life. I grew up, we were neighbors. The roots in our history were always there. So we kind of knew the ins and outs of where you give and where you take, and what buttons do you push and don’t push. It’s a different set of variables that come into play when you’re in a band, but they still pretty much apply. And then not to say that over the years we’ve had issues with one another, but for the most part, those commonalities align and we’re able to make it work. It can be intense because when you travel on tour and you’re up in each other’s face on the tour bus or in the hotels or backstage, whatever it may be, but we’re constantly depending on one another to be there. We all live in different parts of the world now, or the country. A lot of trust and dependence on one another to make sure we keep it going. Then we have fun. Johnny and Jesse joined the band 10 years ago or so, those guys keep it fun and brought some new, fresh energy into the situation too. And at the end of the day it’s fun. We genuinely enjoy each other, we laugh and make music. I don’t know what more you ask for, for me anyway.

Toddstar: If you take away the notoriety and all that goes with it, does it really come down to still just being fun for you?

Dean: Yeah, it does. I get the question often, “What’s your guys’ ritual before you go on stage, do you have any kind of…?” Not really, we just kind of quickly clear the dressing room and then about 5 or 10 minutes, 15 minutes before the show, and it’s just us and we’ll just see if we can get some laughs, like somebody doing something stupid or silly or whatever. And we get some laughter going and have a drink or two, just soften the edge a little bit, and then go on stage and play music. So shipping all of that stuff away. Yeah. It’s we have fun with it.

Toddstar: You guys have been at this a long time. You’ve been on tour with a lot of your peers, you brought people up with you and offered stage and opening spots to a lot of bands. That said, when’s the last time you were starstruck? When’s the last time you saw somebody and you thought, “Holy shit”?

Dean: Well recently, we did a handful of shows with Styx. Tommy Shaw has always been one of our heroes. Knowing him over the years, whatever, been buddies with him, he sang one of our tracks on Blood actually, and Ed sang the track on one of the solo records. Every night he would come out and he’d play guitar on one of the songs on our set. I had to pinch myself moments, I’m like, “Holy shit, Tommy Shaw’s on stage jamming with us.” I guess that’s a very cool thing. Over the years we’ve had plenty of those moments. The first time meeting Elton, who’s another hero of ours, I’m like, “Whoa, that’s a little overwhelming.”

Toddstar: Looking back over your career as part of Collective Soul, Dean, is there a single moment or situation you wish you could have another shot at, even if it didn’t change the end result or the current situation, is there something where if you could go back and tweak it, you would?

Dean: Or just experience it again? In the early days, like in ’94, I remember… I was 21 when all that stuff kicked off. I remember we opened for Aerosmith for an entire summer tour, and I was almost smart enough to take it all in and to appreciate it properly, but I wasn’t quite there yet, I wasn’t quite mature enough. So there were those kinds of moments where… hanging out with Steven Tyler in his dressing room, and he’s showing me the Greatest Hits artwork, and I kind of remember it and I knew I was supposed to appreciate it, and I loved him growing up. To this day still I don’t know that I fully… if I could have that moment back again and relive it and communicate better, and have a more adult, mature exchange about it, instead of sitting there like, “Oh God, Steven Tyler is showing me the artwork that they haven’t even released yet,” and he was just trying to get my opinion on it or whatever it may be. Thinking back on it, having moments like that back, maybe have a fuller exchange than just being some awestruck kid. You’ve got a record deal and wasn’t quite ready for it, but not quite… what would be the word… maybe not mature enough to fully appreciate it.

Toddstar: Sure. If you could magically go back in time and be part of any recording session, whether it’s an album, a song or a live show, what would you choose and why, what album strikes you that it’s just that one that you would want to be a part of?

Dean: Like a fly on the wall? Good question. It would probably be an early Beatles record, probably Revolver maybe. I don’t even know if I’d want to be on the record. The Beatles kicked all kinds of ass, but it’d probably have to be a favorite Beatles record. Just to feel the electricity, that creative energy that was going on, and they all were just in the eye of the storm. It would probably, if I’m just shooting from the hip, it would be probably Revolver.

Toddstar: Well, it’s a good one. I’m with you. They were totally locked in on that album.

Dean: It would still seem like John and Paul were in balance, I think they always ended up loving each other, but it was rifts here and there whatnot, but they were still in sync at that point. It was just primo songwriting and musicianship and production, all of it. It was good stuff.

Toddstar: Absolutely. Dean, again, I appreciate the time. I know you guys have a little more than a week before you start back at it. You guys have got a couple of sold out shows coming up in Wisconsin, again here in Grand Rapids, Michigan. And hopefully we can get you guys a show in Detroit proper sometime soon.

Dean: That’s be awesome.

Toddstar: And until then safe travels. And we hope everybody gets out there, enjoys Half & Half and Blood, and checks out tour dates and buy tickets when they can.

Dean: There you go. Thank you, Todd. I appreciate it my friend.






Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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