banner ad
banner ad
banner ad

INTERVIEW: JOHNNY RABB of COLLECTIVE SOUL – June 2019

 

According to a recent press release: “Multi-Platinum, Georgia-bred rockers COLLECTIVE SOUL–E Roland (vocals / keyboards / guitar), Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), Will Turpin (bass), Jesse Triplett (lead guitar), Johnny Rabb (drums)—are pumped and primed to celebrate their 25th anniversary in 2019 in all-out style, but they’re really just gearing up for the long haul. The band’s silver anniversary year will be a celebration of their ongoing legacy in all-out style with a little bit of the classic and a lot of the new. Not only have they already announced their Summer “Now’s The Time Tour” with Gin Blossoms that kicks off May 25, but in keeping with the Atlanta band’s theme of 2019, “now’s the time” to also let fans know that their tenth highly anticipated studio album, BLOOD, will be released June 21 on Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA. Pre-orders of the album as a download, CD, and vinyl are available on any of these digital retailers. Digital pre-orders include a download of the first single, “Right As Rain,” while downloads of “Good Place To Start” and “Them Blues,” will be available May 17 and June 7, respectively.” We get drummer Johnny Rabb to discuss new music, touring, and much more…

Toddstar: Johnny, thank you so much for taking the time out for me, I appreciate it.

Johnny: Oh, yeah. Thanks for having me.

Toddstar: There’s a lot going on with Collective Soul right now, let’s start with you kicked off a tour a little over a week ago with a few dates, and now you’re going out with the Gin Blossoms in a couple days here.

Johnny: Yeah, we actually depart tomorrow for that, starting off at the Hard Rock in Atlantic City.

Toddstar: What is it about a 25th anniversary tour that just resonates through you guys the minute you hit the stage with this kind of production?

Johnny: Well, in my mind, the band’s been together for 25 years, I’m the beginning of the eighth year, so I’m obviously proud of the guys for their longevity and, you know, the hit making of the band, and many albums, 10th studio album. We really enjoy playing live, that’s where we get to interact with our fans, and come face-to-face with people that, you know, might have listened to the records over the years, but this is a chance to put on a good show for them, and give them some more energy. It’s a really exciting time for us.

Toddstar: It gets even more exciting. As you mentioned, you’re new… we’ll say newish in the band. You’re one of the two new guys, but, like you said, been working on eight years with the band. You’re finally going out there with some newly recorded music – you guys are going out there with Blood in your back pockets this time, so to speak. What can you tell us about this album that the fans might not grab the first or second time they listen to it or hear the stuff live?

Johnny: Well this record we were able to record, you know we always record as a band but we had an old school approach. We like to play live. So we recorded live. We literally blocked out some time and went up to the studio and recorded and a lot of emotional songs for myself in the sense that E [note – Ed Roland is now referred to as E Roland] wrote them, but there’s just a lot of stuff emotionally going on last year, with family members loss of some family members unfortunately. This band literally does kind of band together, not be a cliché but on the road when either triumphs or tragedies happen. It’s not just an on the stage experience, we’re spending our lives together on the road. This next, first leg will be a month on the road, we’re all like brothers out there. So, take care of each other and this record to me is just a collection of life’s events, that have happened, and they might make new meaning for people that listen to them. That’s kind of the magic of what people get out of lyrics and songs and emotions from them. So there’s some rocking stuff but there’s also some cool mid-tempo stuff and it’s got that unique and specific Collective Soul sound. I’m very proud to obviously be part of the band with these guys and have the opportunity to record my second studio album with them. I’ve always been a fan of the guys and we will be playing many of the songs of the record, or at least four or so on this tour. Fans can expect to hear some new material they might not have heard but also hits that they’ve grown to enjoy.

Toddstar: Well speaking of those new songs you guys will play, is there one or two that you particularly can’t wait to play live in front of the fans?

Johnny: Well because we’ve had the three shows or so and we also did the Rock Boat with Bon Jovi. We’ve had a chance to kind of get our set in order and Ben opening a show with “Observation Of Thoughts.” I just love the meaning to that song for me and so that’s a great one to play. Also, on “Crushed” I get a little fun drum into there and it’s a little quirky off-beat rhythm and there’s some fun stuff within the song and the crowds like ‘oh the songs over’ but it’s like nope; we kind of trick you. So that’s a rocking one and we really have a good time and a good place to start in “Right As Rain,” we get to play those in there as well and those are some new ones. “Right As Rain” we’ve been playing on the road a little bit longer than the other ones but yeah having being the drummer on the record is a lot of fun because I can emulate it live and I also get to pay tribute to the other drummers when I’m doing the rest of the show and I’ve always enjoyed that.

Photo Credit: Lee Clower

Toddstar: How hard is that for you as a drummer – every musician has their own style, their own stamp – when you’re playing some other the older material to pay homage to that original sound, yet still put your own stamp on the music?

Johnny: No, it is not difficult, I have kind of grown up, trained, and you know applying it to music, like for life and working on that all through college and things like that. So, being a, I guess drummer and hearing a bunch of songs whether it’s a Collective Soul or not, it’s pretty much my kind of my game. I can get in there and do the songs, but I love doing it! Don’t get me wrong, but it’s not difficult. I just enjoy doing it and I try to stick to what the guys whether it’s Shane, Ryan, or Chaney have done just because I think their parts are great and I think the fans you know they want to hear what that kind of, what their used to hearing on record. So, I always liked that as a kid I used to get pretty frustrated like you see and band and they sound nothing like they do on the record. I’ve come to find that I was a little immature in my listening back when I was 13 or you know 13 to 16 years old. Nowadays I just pride myself on that drum part you know, being played for the music. It’s quite an interesting challenge, and I don’t mean that arrogantly that it’s not difficult I just meant that, after years of learning material and songs; it’s actually just kind of par for the course for me. But, I do love how comfortable, we’ve gotten but we never rest laurels’ if you will about each show. We’re always trying to get in there and even the guys after 25 years, their, we’re trying to do the best show we can every time.

Toddstar: The live album dropped a couple years ago and that really kind of demonstrated how tight you guys were and at that point, Jesse hadn’t been in the band that long either. How well, do you feel you guys gelled once you put the five current guys together? Was it that easy to say “Okay we’re all together, let’s hit the road a little bit, tune this up, and do a live album and we’re moving forward”?

Johnny: Well, I kind of go by what E had said in interviews or to us in person. That’s he’s been so excited about how nice this band works together. As I said, not just being all buddies and friends. Jesse is a consummated professional, he kind of did the Nashville music scene for a long time. So knowing your instrument and knowing what’s going is important. And like you said, it really was getting on the road and for my first tour in 2012 it was probably about a, I’d say a week before I started falling in. And then we recorded a live TV spot for Access TV and I look back at that and I’m very proud of how it sounds like we’re a band. And at that time Jesse wasn’t in it but, the point of it is with Jesse involved it couldn’t be tighter. He’s had a lot of experience obviously, playing with a number of artist as well as his own years ago. So, everyone’s professional and I think when you add the professionalism together even though we have a good time, it’s a serious thing. We don’t, we try to do a show and it be as top-notch as possible. So, I will say we don’t rehearse a lot so we do work it out on the road. A show is a show and we take it very seriously and we just we work out what we can. I’m pretty impressed, even on maybe our worst show it’s still pretty darn good; I mean I’m proud of the guys.

Toddstar: Getting some back info on you Johnny, this is really one of your first big forays on a bigger stage, you’ve done some smaller bands and some things like that. One thing I read, and please correct me if this is incorrect, you held a record and title of the world’s fastest drummer?

Johnny: Yeah I did. My initial start in music was meant to go tour. Move to national and start to tour for a country artist or whoever would hire me but, I ended up accidentally starting a drum stick manufacturing company and one of the people I met through that was a gentlemen and friend named Boo McAfee. And he developed a piece of equipment called the Drumometer which is like a speedometer for drums. So you hit a pad and then the pad signals a little module for a number of counts. So you hit it one, two, three, four, five in succession. And that’s what it was, it was like a countdown timer on one side of the machine, 60 seconds it goes up higher but 60 seconds was the thing we were trying to mess with and then see how many single strokes you can do within that 60 seconds. At first it was fun, but then it started getting kind of serious and Boo contacted Guinness. And they were like well, that sounds pretty cool why not, so went to Orlando and at the time VH1 was doing some Rock-n-Roll record breakers show. And they came out and filmed it and at first I didn’t beat my own record. But, then I did thankfully because it would have been very embarrassing. ‘Oh he couldn’t break it’ and I did. So they got some good exposure did a little MTV spot where guys were messing around. Trying to break the record and messing with me. So really cool I guess like childhood dream in the sense of that how many hamburgers can you eat? Those kinds of Guinness things, so it did help a lot for like clinic appearances, and I’ve always worked on my own techniques, book writing, making videos, and those things. To be able to have that part of my career, that was a big deal for me. Collective Soul, fortunately came at the right time because I was getting a little pigeonholed in the product specialist or demonstrator type thing. I still love doing that, and love doing clinics and basically solo drumming for other drumming and teaching drummers techniques you’ve developed or what have you. But it’s been an absolute blessing to be able to work with the guys and I do feel like it’s a home spot for me. I know they kind of laugh at me when I always say I don’t take it for granted. Maybe I overdo it but the fact is, I don’t. I really am fortunate to be able to work, there’s a lot of my friends that are fantastic drummers and some of them don’t have full time gig. I don’t feel like this is a gig to me this feels like a band, like I’m part of a band. So thank to the guys for believing in me and time kind of stands still but the years will keep going; that’s how it feels.

Toddstar: We’ve talked about you know you’ve been with the band eight years; and you’re not the newest member. How nice did it feel for you to be able to pass that torch of the newest kid in the band when Jesse joined?

Johnny: Well, I think it’s all, a building process and a learning. I mean I don’t blame the guys, their always amazing to me. But, there’s some ribbing at the beginning but why wouldn’t there be; I’m new, it’s the new guy on the block. It’s who, who is this, we don’t really know him we’ve seen play and we saw him kind of at a trade show jam a little bit. But until they get to know me on the bus, how are they supposed to know? So, that’s all like rite of passage, I told my wife the other day I’m like ‘it has nothing to do with the guys, it has to do with myself’. And that is my insecurities have finally subsided, in the sense of like always watching. You know like uh-oh what am I doing? Uh-oh I better really be careful. I know it sounds silly, but it’s a really good question you ask because the band couldn’t be more of a unit right now. We hang out together when we’re not on stage. That’s the best way I can say it and we care about each other and what’s going on within families. We actually, believe it or not, do vacations sometimes as well. It’s the opposite of some bands that are like ‘okay I’ll see you next touring season or something’. We’re either in the studio or on the road or hanging out, sometimes together when we’re off the road. I didn’t really think about it, but when Jesse joined it was more of a, band when Jesse joined. We finally were like ‘okay cool’. Now we’re that far ahead of the game and now I feel like I guess the transition is over. And I feel like, I don’t mean any disrespect because I love everybody that’s been involved and I’ve worked with even obviously my past drummer friends that were in the band. I’m just excited for this time in life and I don’t see it ending anytime soon; I don’t want it to. And I’ll lastly say, what I meant by transition is, I think now, I hope when fans look at like a poster they do look at that like that is Collective Soul, with respect to all the past participants in how it was from the beginning.

Toddstar: And that’s how it should be, there’s so many bands out there – conversely, there’s so few bands out there anymore where any incarnation on the road right now, isn’t that first album lineup. Johnny when it comes to the Collective Soul catalog and you have obviously had to go out learn a ton of it, what are the one or two songs you wish the band would dust off and play live just cause you’d like to be able to put your stamp on it?

Johnny: Well we got to play “No More, No Less” during the Dosage Tour. Meaning not the original Dosage album but the one that was in 2012, the entirety of the record. And I love that song, I just love that tune it’s great. Jesse and I have been talking about this as well. I also like, “Collection of Goods” quite a bit. I love E’s hook and refrain, I mean all his tunes are fun but those are two of my favorite, right there that we haven’t played in a while, we’ve never done the “Collection of Goods” live; I have not with them. Man we’ve been doing “Needs” a little bit lately that’s been fun. Anything off the Dosage thing was a lot of fun. Jesse and I actually made a list, I forgot all the songs but of considerations to put in the set.

Toddstar: Right, sure. I know you’re busy so I got a couple more for you before we cut you loose.

Johnny: No problem.

Toddstar: If you go back through the history of time and be apart any recording, what would that be and why is that recording important to you?

Johnny: I think that you got Collective Soul, I call it the blue album and everything with “Precious” and I got to be honest a lot the Shane Evans recordings. I’m glad I’m not on them because I’m inspired by Shane and how they captured his drumming. But those songs meant a lot to me like “December” and I know I’m going all over the place so I can’t really name one album. But, when I hear the songs and I go ‘oh my god’ when I was learning the catalog back in 2012. Of course I know a lot of them, but I didn’t know some of them, it’s iconic to me; so that’s why it would be important. And the sound of Collective Soul to me, no one sounded like that band. Sure there’s time that I was in it absolutely from the beginning; but everything happens for a reason. So I’ll take it exactly how it is, but those recordings like Dosage that we talked about and those songs that I was just mentioning would have been fun to be a part of. But I have no complaints cause they sure came out amazing without me.

Photo Credit: Lee Clower

Toddstar: How about non Collective Soul – what album resonates with you?

Johnny: I’m big into Tears for Fears and I followed Roland Orzabal for years and I just always liked the drummers on there and you know Phil Collins played on an album, and a combination of those drummers played on Woman in Chains and Seeds of Love. And then Elemental, that band was always a band that when I was college be like ‘man I wish I could be that drummer touring with them’. There’s quite a few records and also like I hear songs and go ‘man I wish I wrote that one’. It could be a dance song or anything like that. But, big Tears for Fears fan, back in the day and still am so that would have been fun.

Toddstar: You’ve mentioned a lot of names, you’re playing with the guys from Collective Soul; you have a lot of friends you meet on the road – you’re meeting a lot of your peers, but when’s the last time you were star struck Johnny?

Johnny: That’s a good question. I’m at a point where, and don’t get me wrong it fantastic we get to tour with… got to tour with Sammy Hagar. Not starstruck but very excited to meet him, I mean ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons we got to meet him. You know, there’s that little vibe in there where you’re like ‘this is Billy Gibbons’ this is somebody when you were 10 years old you were totally inspired by and still am. So anything like that when we get to see people on the road and at the same time, I get excited about putting names and faces to the music. The starstruck thing I try not to do that anymore because I do realize that people are people and their so nice. Last weekend we were with Lynyrd Skynyrd and, talking to these guys and talking to Ricky backstage. He’s been kind to me and didn’t even know who I was back when I had an office at Sound Check in Nashville when he was rehearsing there. And then we met him again there, Kid Rock all these guys are super cool and I haven’t really had a bad experience meeting heroes so I don’t know if it’s starstruck anymore. Maybe an actor or something would kind of trip me out like Will Ferrell or something cause it’s just funny or you can’t help when get a lot of people on the TV or on movies. Maybe that’s a little bit more that type of feelings, but I still feel like you can get a vibe if they are personal or not. So I just feel like we’re all human so hopefully they’ll be cool, you know?

Toddstar: That’s a good mindset, it definitely makes you more humble and approachable when you got the young kid who’s playing drums and wants to meet you, but feels starstruck at that same time.

Johnny: Oh I would hope anyone could approach me. I’m definitely just a dude, we’re all dudes.

Toddstar: Well listen Johnny again I appreciate the time. I can’t wait for everybody to wrap heads, and hearts, and ears around Blood when it drops next month. And hopefully they’ll run out and grab tickets to the shows that start up here in a couple days.

Johnny: Well fantastic, thanks for your time and have a good rest of the weekend.

Toddstar: You too, we’ll talk to you soon Johnny.

Johnny: Take care.

COLLECTIVE SOUL LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

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.

Leave a Reply

Please verify you\'re a real person: * Time limit is exhausted. Please reload CAPTCHA.


banner ad
banner ad