Photo | collectivesoul.com (media photos)
Band: Collective Soul
Date: Friday, Sept. 24 with doors at 7:30 p.m.
Venue: Mobile Civic Center, 401 Civic Center Drive, mobilecivicctr.com
Tickets: $36-$66 available through Ticketmaster
As the ’80s rolled into the ’90s, Georgia became a hotbed for rockers riding the wave of the alt. rock movement. Collective Soul emerged from this musical habitat through its 1994 breakout single, “Shine.”
Ten albums later, the group has remained active both in the studio and on the road. The last time the band rolled through the Azalea City, Collective Soul was touring in support of their 2019 release, “Blood.” Now the band is preparing for the long-awaited follow-up to “Blood” and has no intentions of stopping. Before returning to Mobile, guitarist Dean Roland gave Lagniappe Music Editor Steve Centanni some insight into Collective Soul’s next album as well as the rich, rock ’n’ roll environment that nurtured this band.
Steve Centanni: A lot has happened in the world since Collective Soul played Mobile in 2019. What’s been going on in the Collective Soul camp since then?
Dean Roland: A lot of the time was spent like everyone else in the country. We were staying at home and doing the lockdown stuff. We were able to get together at the end of last year and record a new record. The other part was a lot of family time, staying at home, writing songs and doing that type of thing. Right now, it’s starting to feel like some kind of normal. We’re getting out and playing some shows and having a blast.
Centanni: You mentioned the new album. When I interviewed Johnny Rabb right after “Blood” came out, he said that you guys pretty much had the follow-up ready to roll. As far as the status of the album, where are you at right now?
Roland: With that album, it’s pretty much in the can. We’ve got two that we already recorded. The follow-up to “Blood,” we’ve got to figure out when to release it. We’re thinking in the new year. That’s kinda the plan.
Centanni: He described it as “Blood: Part 2.” Have you got a title for it yet?
Roland: I think we’re gonna call it “Vibrating.” I don’t think that we’ve fully decided, but we’ll see.
Centanni: How would you describe some of the songs on it?
Roland: Initially, we had an idea of doing a double record. One side of it was going to be more rock songs. That’s what ended up being what “Blood” was. The other side was more like strings and vibey-type songs. That’s what the “Vibrating” record is. That was the initial idea. Then we decided to not release a double record and we’d just release them separately. Then the COVID stuff hit, and everything went wacky.
Centanni: As far as the songs on “Blood” and “Vibrating,” did the songs come together in tandem, or did you concentrate on the rock and then the strings?
Roland: Exactly, we split them up. It was different sessions. We recorded one record in New York and one in Atlanta.
Centanni: How would you compare the string sessions to the rock sessions?
Roland: It was very similar in our approach. We’d get in a room and record live. Then we would go back and do the overdubs and add the strings. That part was the same. We’re always being silly in the studio. The vibe is obviously different. You’re doing rock and stuff on one record and vibey stuff on the other one. In that respect, it was different.
Centanni: You also gave your fans a little something on Record Store Day with an EP dominated by covers called “Half and Half.” You had Thin Lizzy, R.E.M. and Neil Young & Crazy Horse. What was that song selection like?
Roland: Well, R.E.M. has been one of our favorite bands. Being from Atlanta, they’ve been a big influence on us. We have been playing “The One I Love” live for a little while. It sounded fun to go into the studio and record it. With the Neil Young track, while we’re on the road, Ed [Roland] collects vinyl. He’d been looking for this Neil Young record called “Re-ac-tor” and found it. Then we were listening to it one day and we thought that “Opera Star” would be a fun thing to take this hidden gem of Neil’s and see what we could do with it. So, we just went for it.
Centanni: Talking about R.E.M., one thing that I didn’t talk about with Johnny that I wanted to make sure to discuss with you is the scene that you guys came up in. Collective Soul came up in the Georgia alt. rock movement, and that was definitely a big part of the soundtrack to the ’90s. What was it about Georgia in the late ’80s and into the ’90s that spawned this rock revolution?
Roland: R.E.M. played a huge role in that scene, obviously. They kicked it off. Then the Seattle thing happened with Nirvana, Soundgarden and all those cats breaking down other barriers. Then we weren’t far behind that. We weren’t grunge or anything like that, but it opened doors for more of an alternative approach to music. People opened their ears up for it. It was a really fun time in music.
Centanni: If you live long enough, you have the fortune and misfortune to watch history repeat itself. You’ll definitely see it in music. Fortunately, over the past year or so, I’ve started to notice the new generation embracing ’90s-era alt. rock. What do you think about the younger generation revisiting this era in music?
Roland: I think it’s great. I love it. I’m biased, but I think there were some good, clever, well-crafted songs and interesting sounds. I’m just a big fan of songs in general. Anytime those things kinda circle back around, I’m very pleased.
Centanni: You’ve got “Blood” and a new album and all kinds of new music. What’s the setlist at the Mobile Civic Center going to be like this time?
Roland: We’re gonna play the hits. That’s a given. We have fun doing that with songs like “Shine,” but we mix it up. We do a couple of really new songs and blend it all in together and have fun together. We try to keep a flow happening where we don’t get bored, and the audience doesn’t get bored.
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