Some bands start out good and get great over time, while others start great and just fade away — well, today’s group is one that started great and just kept on going strong with 14 albums and an amazing string of No. 1 hits. I’m talking about Collective Soul (made up now of E and Dean Roland, Jesse Triplett, Johnny Rabb and Will Turpin) who are out on the road for a double purpose: supporting their latest CD “Blood” and celebrating 25 years of exceptional music.

I had the pleasure of interviewing this Georgia-based band when they appeared at the Ballpark down in Old Orchard Beach supporting their debut release, “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.” Truth be told, I can’t remember who they opened for because I was so impressed by their first album that I went just to see them, so when I discovered they were coming back to Portland’s Aura on Wednesday, Sept. 25, I just had to reconnect. To that end, bassist Will Turpin called from the road on Aug. 31 to chat about both the new album and their monumental run as a rock band. I began by telling him that I’d interviewed his group back in the very beginning of their career.

Turpin: In ’94? Wow!

Q: Since then, I’ve acquired every CD that you’ve put out, and literally every track on every album is unique, hook-laden and memorable. There is not one throw-away song in your entire catalogue: it’s excellent from start to finish.
Turpin: Thanks, man. Yeah, over the years we’re just consistent — we’re not known for filler, you know? I do think that Ed (E Roland, lead vocalist and songwriter) belongs amongst the best as far as songwriting’s concerned, so yeah, it’s been good for 25 years now. It still feels good, it still feels the same way: I still get the goosebumps and I get adrenalin flowing through my body when I know we’ve created something really cool.

Q: Now it’s been a quarter of a century since that show at the Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, so I’ve got to ask: How do you keep it fresh after all these years?
Turpin: I don’t know how, I can’t describe how, I just know it’s still that same feeling when we create something really strong and epic. You know, “Blood,” the record, that’s in reference to your legacy, your family — blood brothers — what came before you and what’s after you; and it’s also in reference to us maturing and going through a lot of stuff. There’s a lot of songs on this new record that lyrically are stuff that we went through or somebody in our group went through.

Q: Well, as with earlier albums, all of those songs ring true. I don’t know if it’s E’s delivery, or the hooks that are loaded into each track, or if it’s the melodies, but you get the feeling of truth throughout.
Turpin: Yeah, like I said: it’s things that directly happened to us or somebody we watched that was really close to us.

Q: With 25 years under your belts, there’s probably lots for you to draw upon. Oh, where are you calling from, just out of curiosity?
Turpin: We’re at a State Fair in Oregon, near Bend.

Q: Now that show out there is part of the 25th anniversary tour, right?
Turpin: Yeah. I know we’re going on 25 years and I hope it never ends. They go, “When does this tour end?” and I’m like, “I don’t know, they keep adding dates, man!”

Q: Could you talk a little more about “Blood”?
Turpin: Sure, we recorded a lot of music for that album because we were intending it to be a double-record set, so we’re working on mixes right now for basically “Blood, Part 2.” It won’t be called (that, but it will be released next year and, with the marketing, you’ll understand that it’s a continuation of “Blood.”

Q: Speaking of double albums, I recently got “Home,” that live concert you guys did with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra back in 2006. I’ve got to find the Blu-ray version of that show to see the band in action, not just hear it, you know?
Turpin: Yeah, that was probably the biggest undertaking for a single production that we’ve ever really done.

Q: Well, you can hear the reaction from the crowd on those two discs, so I’ve got to ask: What can folks expect from the show you’ve got coming up at the Aura in Portland on the 25th?
Turpin: Well, at this point we just focus on what’s important: A celebration of life, a celebration of us being allowed to create and play music for a living, a celebration of fans and people allowing this music to become the soundtrack to their memories. At this point in time we don’t take it lightly; music is a powerful thing and people have told us over and over how it’s affected their lives and it’s helped them out. We don’t take that for granted, we just enjoy it. Like I said, we’re on stage for a celebration and everybody’s involved.

Q: With so many albums out, is it hard putting together a set list nowadays?
Turpin: There’s definitely lots of options. I wouldn’t say it’s hard to put one together, but there’s a lot of options and ultimately we can’t even play every No. 1 we’ve ever had, as far as rock tracks go. But we’re not that band that’s like trying to play all our new stuff and don’t care about the old stuff. We cherish the fact that, like I said, these songs have become the soundtrack to people’s lives.

Q: That’s the truth.
Turpin: But we’ve got like five new tracks off “Blood” on the set list, it’s just all about coming up with a flow and then executing it, and just having fun, rocking it out.

Q: Of the five members you and the two brothers, E and Dean, have been in the band from the beginning, right?
Turpin: Right, yeah, we came from a small town, man. The original five were from a very small town in Georgia. To put it bluntly, my whole life I’ve known who Dean and Ed were.

Q: That kind of connection really explains the cohesion and tightness of your sound.
Turpin: Yeah, we definitely are thinking right on the same wavelength, we keep our ears open and our minds open. That’s the most important thing: Not what we can put out but what we can take in, and do something with that.

Q: Is there anything you’d like to pass on to the folks reading this article?
Turpin: Yeah, just the fact that we’re always excited to play and can’t wait to perform.

Lucky Clark has spent 50 years writing about good music and the people who make it. He can be reached at [email protected] if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.


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