Band: Collective Soul
Date: Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 11 p.m.
Venue: MoonPie Over Mobile, Downtown Mobile, mobilenewyear.com
MoonPie Over Mobile has become a centerpiece of New Year’s Eve celebrations along the Alabama Gulf Coast. From a Roaring ’20s costume contest to the MoonPie drop at midnight, MoonPie Over Mobile provides a number of great activities to make New Year’s Eve a special experience for all in attendance.
Before the MoonPie drops into 2020, alt-rock legends Collective Soul will set the mood with an electrifying performance. As a notable band from Georgia’s rich alt-rock scene in the ’90s, Collective Soul established a permanent following through songs such as “Shine” and “Gel.”
Currently the band is touring in support of its latest album, “Blood,” with new albums set for release in the near future. Lagniappe’s Steve Centanni spoke with drummer Johnny Rabb about his time with the band as well as the bright future of Collective Soul.
Steve Centanni: You’ve been in the band for almost 10 years. How would you describe your experience with Collective Soul thus far?
Johnny Rabb: It’s a great experience. In fact, I was just talking to family about it. The time has flown by. 2012 was the Dosage Tour. We’ve done three records since, and another one is in the can and ready to go. Because we’re touring all the time, everything seems to bleed together in a sense. So, the time has really flown. They’re a fun group of guys, and they’re like a second family to me. We’re on the road quite a bit, so it’s been an amazing experience. We try to treat each show as an individual show. Regardless, as you know, the more you do, then the more time doesn’t stop. It’s been a blast.
Centanni: What was it about Collective Soul’s music that made you want to be a part of this project?
Rabb: When I was a drummer in Nashville and touring and playing everything from funk to country, I was a fan of the band but didn’t know them personally. I was supporting them as a musician and listening to them on radio stations in Nashville. Every time those guys would release a song, I would love it. I didn’t ever think that I would work with them. We met at the NAMM show in Anaheim, and me and Will [Turpin] kinda hit it off. The next day, I met E [Roland]. The next thing you know, I’m jamming at E’s house with them. Then we went on tour. Now it’s nine years later. I think that it’s exciting to be able to recreate the songs that were the hits of the past and be able to record them and create stuff with them. It’s exciting to be a part of the catalog. With each show, there’s no question that it’s cool. I do feel part of the band at this point. I don’t take it for granted ever. I was a fan of the band, and to be able to play with them has been a very cool fit. It’s been very fortunate for me.
Centanni: “Blood” is the latest release from you guys. What’s the story behind the title?
Rabb: Blood is significant in the sense of family, whether it’s being blood-related or family in the sense of how I feel like a brother to those guys. It’s all about family and where you came from. There’s also Dean [Roland] and E, who are blood-related brothers. Will has known those guys since birth. Whether it’s literally blood-related or blood brothers, it can mean so much. It’s been really cool touring that record and playing the songs live.
Centanni: One thing that I think is interesting about this album is that you have songs that have that classic, Collective Soul sound. Then there are others that definitely show the band’s growth. What was it like writing the songs for this one?
Rabb: We went to a studio in Hopatcong, New Jersey, on a beautiful lake. It’s a place called The Barber Shop Studios. It was an amazing place to record. We did it as a band. E had the songs finished on acoustic and vocally. Even though we all write, he comes with an acoustic and will be like, “Here’s one!” He had the idea and vision for this. He also had the idea to get everyone together and do the tracking over a 10- to 12-day period. A lot of documentation of us doing the songs happened, which will be coming out over the next year.
As a band, we did it together live. Each day would focus on one to two songs, tops. We were able to really focus on what the song should really sound like and go through guitar parts and drum parts and bass and background vocals. It all stems from E’s writing. He’s the principal songwriter and always has been, but everyone giving opinions on how they played really molded that album into how it sounds. Of course, don’t forget the engineering skills of Shawn Grove on there. Sound choices are very important. That record was a band attempt, and it’s really cool.
Centanni: You mentioned that you had another album in the can. Tell me about that.
Rabb: Yeah! It’s almost like part two of “Blood.” I don’t know the exact release date, but it is finished. We were supposed to do a double album, and it was decided to not do it like that. So we’ll release another record next year as a part two. It won’t be called “Part Two.” I don’t remember what we’ve discussed as far as the title of it, but it’s coming out. We were also in the studio two weeks ago for a secret release coming up pretty soon. Music is coming out of E and all of us all the time. We run a really good path.
Centanni: How would you describe the follow-up to “Blood?”
Rabb: It’s got its own set of songs that are different from “Blood,” but it was done within the same time period. People will find some sentimental tunes, but they’ll also hear some rock and driving stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve heard it, so I’m excited to hear the release myself.
Centanni: What can you tell me about the secret release?
Rabb: I can tell you that we were constantly busy in the studio, which doesn’t shock me. With the chemistry of the band, we can knock some tunes out and it sounds great. It’s just a cool little thing coming up that people can get excited about. I can say that the band is constantly looking to release and create music. I’m just excited. The fans will be like, “Whoa! That’s cool!”
Centanni: What made you want to spend your New Year’s Eve performing on stage instead of doing your own thing?
Rabb: What we do is fun, and we’re lucky. E always says that we’re really blessed to do what we do. We’ve worked hard to be able to do it. New Year’s Eve represents a celebration of what we did that year and a celebration marking the new year. Somebody’s job might be in an office or doing farming. On the weekend or New Year’s Eve, it’s time for them to celebrate. We’re happy to be the entertainment for folks. It’s a choice people make. They want to see Collective Soul. So when we play on New Year’s Eve, we get to celebrate with each other and celebrate with the crowd. We love it. We love performing. That’s what we do. We do miss holidays sometimes with our families, but we know that it’s our job to create an environment for people to have a blast in and have fun and come rock with us. We’re honored to be able to do it, and we’re looking forward to Mobile.
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