Dean Roland of Collective Soul
It’s almost hard to believe that the brothers Roland (Ed and Dean) and the rest of Collective Soul (Joel Kosche, Will Turpin) have been bringing us great music since 1993, but they have! Their latest self-titled album (often referred to as “The Rabbit Album”) has been called a return to the band’s original sound. Marking their 8th studio album and their first on new label Loud & Proud/Roadrunner Records the band wrote and recorded the album tucked away at Ed’s lake house in Georgia. This environment provided the band with a relaxed vibe that seemed to be most conducive to writing heartfelt songs rich in melody and catchy hooks; sure to please even the most finnicky of musical palates!
The album starts off most astutely with the song “Welcome All Again” which is the perfect introduction to the album to fans new and old. Collective Soul has always been one of those bands that constantly churns out hits yet continually flies under the radar. Be that as it may, it doesn’t matter all that much to the band. What matters to them is making great music for the fans that have been with them since the beginning and all those that have joined them along the way.
The band just kicked off the Canadian leg of their tour shortly after being inducted into The Georgia Music Hall of Fame (not too shabby!). A few weeks back we caught up with Dean Roland who talked to us about the new album, the bands history and of course, TWITTER!
Interviewed by: Mary Ouellette | September 2009
First off, congrats on the new album! A lot of fans are calling this album’s sound a return to the Collective Soul sound that they first fell in love with; did the band find themselves inspired by your earlier releases during the writing process?
We definitely thought about it before we went in to make the record, we wanted to get back to a more guitar oriented record without being over-produced. That was the concept but once we got in there we just let it take its own course.
The thought was just going back to our roots the way we used to do it. We used the rabbit as a metaphor for rebirth. It just felt right, it’s probably the most collaborative effort we’ve made to date. All of us, sitting in a room just creating music so it felt like it should be self-titled.
The recording and writing place took place at Ed’s lake house; can you tell us how that enhanced the process for you?
For past albums where we’ve recorded in studios, everyone goes in and leaves at the end of the day and goes home. At Ed’s we were all waking up in the same house every day, being able to relax. We would write whenever we were inspired to write and record whenever we felt like recording. We hung out together and it was just a much more relaxed atmosphere, it was back to the basics and how we started the band.
The album starts off with the song “Welcome All Again” which I’ve read was written about the the recording process and being at the lake house, can you tell us about that?
I think it’s more about the experience of being there and the open door policy that we had. Our friends would come up to see us and it was just a hang out spot. Lyrically I think its welcoming back people that might not have heard from us in awhile.
I’ve read a lot of different reports about the song “You” being the first song that you’ve ever written as a unit but I know that that’s not entirely true, that the band has collaborated in the past so can you tell us what made “You” unique in that sense and how it all came together?
We’ve definitely collaborated in the past; the difference is it was really the four of us contributing to the writing process for “You” where it’s usually one or two at the most. It was interesting to have four different perspectives on the actual writing of the song.
So Ed produced the album, was this the first time that he’s produced for the band and how was he to work with when he had his producer hat on?
He’s produced all of them and we produce them all together so it wasn’t much of a change for us.
I saw an interview where you mentioned that being on Roadrunner now after what you’ve gone through in the past with both doing it yourself and being on other labels has given you a new appreciation for being on a good label, can you tell us about that?
It’s nice to have that support behind you. We’re on Roadrunner now; they’re small enough to really care about the bands on their label. They have a small roster and they work their bands and they also have the muscle of a big label as well so it’s a nice hybrid.
And that allows you to deal more with the creative side and leave the business side of things to them?
Yes, exactly, it freed us up to be more of where we’ve wanted to be all along and that’s just being artists and musicians.
With the band being together for so long, you’ve seen your share of conflict within the music industry, what do you think has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face from those beginning days until now as far as the business goes?
I think it’s just getting people’s attention. There’s so much going on now and the world has changed so much. We started sixteen years ago and there’s just so much more going on now with online activity and so many different things to stimulate people’s minds these days so just trying to get their attention and get them to hear the new music can be challenging.
Considering the amount of mainstream success the band has had it still seems that in the grand scheme of things you’re a bit underrated, has that ever been something that’s bothered you or that you’ve even thought about?
Honestly, yes, sometimes. I do think we’re underrated. You can only do so much. We’re really appreciative of where we are, and that we’ve been around so long. We do have amazing fans so there’s a hell of a lot more to be appreciative of but I’d be lying if I said didn’t think about it, its part of human nature, you desire more.
When you first heard Hymn for My Father (Written by Ed for their father) how did you feel?
I was like “Damn you really wrote a hymn!” The chord progression and the phrasing of it is very much a hymn. My father was a preacher and we grew up singing hymns in church so it definitely resonated.
Continuing with that, growing up and getting into music, how did you and Ed start identifying with music and going down that path?
We were always around music; my dad was a voice major in college. We were surrounded by it from a young age so it was natural for us. We were in the church choir growing up.
We have to talk about Twitter because the band has not only embraced the technology but you follow all of your fans back which is a part of the experience that a lot of bands and celebrities seem to forget. Can you tell us why you decided to place importance on that because it has to take a huge time commitment from the band?
Yeah it does but we saw it as an opportunity to create that experience like you said and make it as interactive as possible with our fans. As a fan of other bands I’d want to see them do that. If you dig what we do and you’re curious about how things go down behind the scenes you can follow us on twitter and find out how the record was made and what’s going on day to day in the band and I think that’s pretty cool. We have fun with it.
I recently saw the band live in Hampton Beach, NH and I think one of the things that struck me the most was the dichotomy of your fan base. There were mothers there with their kids, teenagers, and then the people that have obviously been with you since day one. Most bands struggle to take their fan base with them as they grow but it seems like it happened pretty naturally for you, do you have a secret to that success?
Sticking around I guess. I’d like to think that the common denominator is music and that we’re good at what we do. I think music should be able to do that, to bridge that gap. We’re fans of melody and songs and I think when you do that you’re going to have a broader mainstream appeal and we do, we get all walks of life.
You actually had a song on the Twilight soundtrack last summer as well so did you see an after effect with that with new fans coming to the shows?
Yeah, definitely. It allowed us to reach a younger audience so that’s always great. We’ve been doing this for so long that it’s always great when you can connect with a new young audience.
Any parting words to your fans?
We’re excited about this album and I hope people enjoy it. We’re having a blast on the road and hope people come out to see us!
Collective Soul just kicked off the Canadian leg of their tour. You can check out the full list of dates here.
For more info on Collective Soul visit their website