There’s something about Collective Soul that flies a bit under the radar in the pantheon of rock music.
Though the band’s four platinum albums and string more than a dozen hit records make for as impressive a resume as nearly any of its contemporaries, bands such as Bush, Live or the Foo Fighters often get lauded as the leaders of the post-grunge era of mid- to late-90s modern rock.
An Evening with Collective Soul
• Where: House of Blues, Barefoot Landing, North Myrtle Beach
• Cost: $35 ($38 day of show) for General Admission
• Details: Tickets available now at hob.com/myrtlebeach or by calling 272-3000.
However, take a quick listen through a catalog that includes tunes such as “Heavy,” “Precious Declaration,” “The World I Know,” “December” and “Shine” and you’re sure to remember why the band’s earnest, accessible rock sound hit so big in its heyday.
Led by a core group that includes brothers Ed and Dean Roland, bassist Will Turpin, and Joel Kosche — the band’s lead guitarist for the past decade — Collective Soul has continued to produce solid records since leaving Atlantic Records for its own label El Music Group in 2004.
Now, after three years off tour after releasing its latest self-titled record (aka “Rabbit”) in 2009, the band is dead set on mixing things up for the fans with a renewed energy and a 10-week long tour that will hit North Myrtle Beach’s House of Blues on May 13.
An Evening with Collective Soul will have the band performing solo with two sets, including one featuring 1999 fan favorite album “Dosage” performed in its entirety.
ListenUp spoke with Turpin recently by phone, while he was enjoying an afternoon at one of his favorite restaurants in his hometown in Georgia. Here’s what he had to say about growing up in a record studio, the Atlanta music scene and his nearly 20 years in “one of the best modern rock bands in the world”:
So your dad owned a recording studio back in Georgia. How do you think growing up in that atmosphere shaped you into a musician?
Yeah, obviously it shaped us. It really shaped all the members of Collective Soul. Ed was the lead engineer there at my father’s studio for many years.
But for me and my childhood I saw so many bands in and out. I saw rock bands, country bands, jam bands, all kind of things. I saw drugs and I saw Christian and Gospel groups.
It was just so many different things. How it affected me, it’s hard for me to say, but certainly I knew from my earliest memories the studio and what being there was all about. I remember recording drum tracks for demos at 13 and 14 years old, recording drum tracks for $100 and whether it was playing or just being around the music all the time it definitely affected me.
You guys got your start out of the Atlanta area, which seems like it was really a hotbed for musical talent back in the early 1990s, what was it like being around that scene at that time?
I think when you’re young you’re kinda in your own world, for me at least I was kinda in my own head a lot. But I knew that there were these bands and there was a lot of talent where we were at — I mean, the Black Crowes had just hit.
In high school I was a huge R.E.M. fan, but you’re in the moment of this great music scene here in Atlanta and you kinda just do your own thing is pretty much how I felt about it. I had a bunch of friends from that time that I’d go see and so many great bands that were kickin’ it.
Because I had never been out of the Atlanta area, I didn’t know that we actually had a music scene. I thought all cities had a music scene, you know? But as I tour around I notice a lot of people who say their town has a lot of musicians or people playing cover tunes, but they don’t really have a live music scene, per se.
So that perspective didn’t really hit me until later. But we’re definitely proud to be from Atlanta. It’s a great place with a lot of people who support live music, and there’s just lots of options there.
You guys have basically been together 20 years now, what’s that like?
Well, we’re really just warming up to that ... I don’t know what we really want to call 20 years, but we’re kinda looking at it as 2013 as the time to celebrate. Technically we were signed to Atlantic Records in January 1994, but we’ve been playing together longer than that.
Things have changed in the industry from when you guys got started. Do you think that all the tools available now are an advantage for up-and-coming acts?
I think I’m gonna write a book someday about the changes in the music industry, because we actually have an interesting perspective as a band who got in on the tail end of the huge record label. The big dinosaur that would just stomp all over everything.
And now, it’s almost like a bunch of little Velociraptors — pardon my metaphor — but it’s been in interesting evolution that we’ve got to experience and see for ourselves first-hand. But the answer is still, for me, that it’s not really the vehicle that gets you there, but what you do when you’re there that’s important.
The record label used to be the only vehicle, but now with all this information overload that we have there’s so many different ways to become a popular band. I think for artists it’s a good thing because there’s so many ways to make it happen and get your music heard.
But there’s also a lot out there — a whole lot out there — that means in some respects it's tough for the consumer to figure out what the hell they want to do. But I’m always going to lean to the artists’ side and so I think all these options are extremely positive for music and for creativity and the arts in general.
Bands can carve so many different paths now, but ultimately I still believe that if the cream will rise to the top. If you’re a bad-ass band you’re going to get heard.
You’ve had platinum records, nationwide tours, etc. Are you satisfied with all you’ve done or do you still feel just as hungry to get out and accomplish different measures of success?
That’s kind of appropriate considering where I’m at now. I’m doing a lot of my own music now and Collective Soul is getting together and writing new material. The thing is, I’m wondering when it’s going to stop because I do feel certain parts of my body getting older, but it’s not my mind and my spirit.
I feel like we’re creating music right now that’s as good as day one, so I don’t feel like I’m looking back and saying ‘Am I satisfied?’ I’m not even questioning that. Stuff is just pouring out, whether it’s solo stuff or Collective Soul stuff.
But yeah, I’m completely satisfied with what we’ve done over our career, but I’m still not stopping and I haven’t looked back. I’m still excited about the next thing...which is kinda weird I think.
With music it’s different though. Paul McCartney just released a record and I think people know that’s someone who I look up to as one of my greatest influences. Music is not limited by age.
So you guys haven’t toured in about three years. What have you been up to during that time?
I released a solo EP. It’s all me performing a lot of different instruments and I also produced it. I put it out on our my own label. I’ve been playing shows where it’s just me behind a piano for a couple hours, which is a really cool musical journey to make myself have to do something that different...it’s been really cool.
And I’d like to do some more of those records. A lot of people have liked what I did and I think it took a lot of people by surprise that the bass player of Collective Soul goes to singing — I hate describing my own music — but it’s basically singing Beatle-esque pop songs behind the piano.
It makes you feel great to be able to do it. I mean, piano was my first instrument and I started writing on piano when I was 13 or 14 years old. Through the path that life laid out for me I ended up playing in the rhythm section of what I consider one of the best rock bands of modern times, and so to be able to go back is great.
Still in my mind when I’m playing bass I think of it as a piano. So to be able to go back and do this thing that had been inside of me for awhile was almost a necessary thing for me, because then I come back so revived and so energized to get back and play with Collective Soul.
And why did Collective Soul feel like now was the right time to get back out and hit the road again?
The thing is Collective Soul is a name that people recognize and for each individual they have a place in their mind where Collective Soul is. It’s something where as a band we always want it to keep it lively and keep it as something that’s fresh if we can.
So we sat down in January and said ‘Let’s go on tour for 10 weeks, and let’s do something slightly different.’ Let’s start off the show with “Dosgae” beginning to end and let’s challenge ourselves and let’s give the audience something very different.
So we’re going to go out for 10 weeks, have a blast, do our job to be entertainers and we’re going to try to be different instead of just getting up there and going through the motions to play all the Collective Soul hits.
We’ve got “Dosage,” we’ve got a couple brand-new tunes and then we’re going to give you another hour or so of songs from the past 17-18 years.
It’s got to be a little different with you guys touring alone this time around. Do you see that as a challenge to carry the entire night or just more as giving you the freedom to do whatever you like?
You know, I guess it’s a little of both. For me, when I think of a challenge it’s always as something I’m excited to be able to tackle. It’s more like a different playground that I’ve never been to that I get to go have fun in.
Performing those songs on “Dosage” that I’ve never done will be interesting. When we go into the studio on every record — you don’t sit there and point them out — but there’s a handful of songs on the record that we’re all pretty sure, we’re never going to perform them live.
There’s 3 or 4 songs on that record we’ve never even thought about playing live and that’s going to be awesome.
It’s a combination of both things though. It’s an empty canvas, which if fun, but in the same respect it will be a little bit of a challenge to make it happen.
How did the idea to play “Dosage” in its entirety come about and why that album as opposed to one of the earlier ones?
Honestly there was a two week period where it was either the blue record — which is the second record — of “Dosage” which is our fourth record. We just wanted to kinda sit with the idea for a couple weeks and see which we really wanted to do and in the end we decided on it.
And for fans that maybe haven’t seen you live or haven’t seen you play in awhile, what can they expect from your show at House of Blues here in Myrtle Beach?
You know what? Music is one of those things you can’t really describe in scientific terms why when it hits your ears that it gives you energy or gives you a great feeling.
We’ve actually hired a new drummer for this tour that’s going to inspire us to do some great things and, for me, when we play live the blood flows and the energy is just as good as it ever was.
For people who haven’t seen us in awhile — and I still get plenty, oddly enough, who say they’ve never seen us — I don’t think they’ll have a problem accepting or feeling the energy. I guess I get a little ethereal when I talk about it, but to me, the energy of a live show is a two-way street and it comes back from the audience into us and then back out of us to the audience.
But we’re known for taking people to the next level emotionally and vibe-wise and we strive to do that every time out.
Anything else you’d like fans to know about what you’ve been working on or any other upcoming projects, etc.?
I think it’s important to note that we’re doing two new tunes on this tour and that we are release a new record next year. I’m hoping it sounds something like Led Zeppelin and The Beatles meet Collective Soul in a dark alley behind a bar. (Laughs)