Collective Soul has recorded, released and performed music for more than 25 years. And even though there have been deviations from the original lineup, they have persevered, adapted and continue to move forward as their current Now’s The Time Tour, supporting their recent release Blood (which came out June 21), can attest.
Bassist Will Turpin has been with the band from their early days in Stockbridge, Ga. Prior to a recent show at the Mayo Performing Arts Center in Morristown, he talked about his time with the band, the new record, the tour and what an established band does differently in today’s technology-driven atmosphere versus two decades ago.
“It does and doesn’t feel like it has been 25 years,” Turpin said. “Part of me still feels like that 27-year-old kid in a rock band. It’s a big deal but I don’t really know how to wrap my head around it and talk about it. I’m just real excited and I’m trying to do what I’ve always done …
“I don’t want to categorize what 25 years means because I don’t know … I just want to do more: more rock ‘n’ roll and more shows for years to come.”
Blood is the band’s tenth release and has been in the works for several years. Turpin says the group was focused and aided by a two-week stay in The Garden State. During that time, they recorded most of the tracks that make up the album, plus a host of others.
“There’s a song on the record called ‘Right as Rain’ that’s also on our 2017 live record that we released around Christmas in December,” said Turpin. “So in the summer of 2017, we were already working on some of these songs. Then around March of 2018 we went to a friend’s studio called The Barber Shop, which was in an old church in Lake Hopatcong, N.J., and it was a beautiful spot which was referred to us by our guitar tech, who records there. The idea was that we’d be able to isolate ourselves, so we had a really cool house on the lake, maybe two miles from the studio. So it was just us focusing on the music.
“That was probably about 10 or 12 days in a row in the studio, and that’s when we recorded the meat and potatoes of the record, getting in there every day and focusing on the energy and the right vibe for each song. We were always about focusing on the song and what was right for each song, and for the most part it was there.
“We all have studios in our homes, but of course we did some touch-up stuff at Ed’s (fromman Ed Roland’s) studio, and it was mixed at one of our favorite studios in Atlanta where we’ve been recording since the beginning. We recorded 20-something tunes … The idea is to kind of have Blood Part One and maybe a part two with a different name, but we’re not really sure how to market the second half of what we did. We had talked about the concept of a double LP, and then we didn’t know how to market that either in today’s world (laughs), so we decided to focus on the first half, getting it done, and then re-market the other 10 tunes.”
Today’s world can make or break bands, both old and new, if they can’t navigate the sometimes rough waters of social media, the internet and digital downloads. But Turpin says that Collective Soul — which had its biggest hits, such as “Shine” and “December,” in the ’90s — has evolved with the times and used technology to their advantage, and has maintained a closeness with their fanbase that continues to benefit them in many ways.
“Collective Soul has certainly seen the cross section of the evolution of what we knew as the old record industry and kind of where we are today,” said Turpin. “Kind of like the wild, wild West, with the cream filtering to the top. Through our first three records, we were still signed to a traditional huge record label, and then around 2000 or 2001 we saw that whole bottle get destroyed, and we were one of the first bands to go it on our own. We released Youth on our own record label and hired some guys who are still our dear friends, who ran the promotion for the record and are doing so for this one.
“It’s just different. We’re going to sell about 30,000 CDs, where we used to sell half a million … But you have to watch the streaming numbers, watch satellite radio. There’s still outlets and trigger signs to look for, to chart the success of a song.
“How do we survive? The big advantage for bands that have a fanbase is the direct marketing that we can do. We can let our fans all across the country know what we are doing, or the direct marketing involved through Facebook or email. We can let people know when we are coming to their town, and the true fans want that, so we try not to bug people. But the direct marketing in today’s world is easy and just genius for bands that have a real fan base. The pros and cons are there and I can talk about it for hours, but we did see the evolution of the record industry 100 percent get flipped over and roundabout flattened and reshaped (laughs).”
Turpin says, in regard to when they step onstage, whereas the focus years ago was on getting it technically right, today’s Collective Soul has a different outlook.
“I don’t know how to describe it but we are confident and we really feel like we know what to focus on live. It’s not a technical thing; it’s something that we’re trying to grab that includes vibe and energy. I tell everybody that we are purveyors of emotion. What we’re trying to do, really, is let these frequencies hit your ears and then make you feel a certain way or think of a certain time or memory, and then that energy transfer comes right back to the stage, and it’s kind of a circle that feeds itself.
“We’ve gotten to where we focus on things like that. When we were younger, it was more about this note at this time or hit this fret at this time, or watch the count-off here, and it was all technical. But we think above that now. I think you know what I’m talking about: We’ve gotten over that now and have evolved to another level, and obviously we still take pride in how technical or sharp we are, but that’s not what 90 percent of the fans give a shit about (laughs). Music nerds like me may watch or listen for chords and technical things, but most fans want to just hear the music.”
For more about Collective Soul, visit collectivesoul.com.
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