Anyone with marginally decent access to media outlets in 1994 probably heard Collective Soul's "Shine." The video for and the guitar riff from the single -- the first track off their debut album,Hints, Allegations, and Thngs Left Unsaid
-- are both textbook '90s and a little grunge; the lyrics, though, were unusually uplifting for the time.
Collective Soul, a band originally founded by two brothers, Ed and Dean Roland, have unity in their blood. They never stopped recording and their fanbase kept growing long after the '90s.
Guitarist Dean Roland recalls that progression well, from its slow start to their status as veterans: "We were a band from Atlanta who released a little independent record," he says now. "Then some stations started playing it, and it got national attention... That part happened really quickly, but the previous ten years didn't. From there, we went on to make more albums, and it's been 17 years of making music. We've been really fortunate to be able to do that. It's pretty much what we breathe."
Their upcoming tour -- the first in over two years -- will be an awesome fusion of dualities and opposites. Though they'll perform tracks from 1999's Dosage, it'll all be accompanied by new songs. Thanks to the inclusion of the band's single "Tremble for My Beloved" on the Twilight soundtrack and to the fans who've grown up and had children, the crowds are likely to be half tween, half die-hards. The new songs are part of a constructive, artistic process for the band, an ongoing formation of its upcoming album while on tour. Like the 2004 release Youth, the first on the band's own independent label, this future record may indicate a sort of rebirth.
"Here's the truth," Roland explains about the new album. "We've started with some very basic ideas. They'll grow in the process of touring and working through the songs. The songs will be fleshed out on the road, figuring things out along the way. Youth was our first independent record, and we'd kind of gone through a hiatus. We felt invigorated. That's what we're hoping for, to find a freshness and a new energy to play off of."
As for the decision to play Dosage -- an album that marked a streamlining in their production technique -- Roland explains that it was very natural: "It was a consensus in the band. That's one of our favorite records. It was a good time for us and a very collaborative record. We didn't even really have much discussion about it; it happened organically." The challenge of creating the energy of an older song, a past moment, isn't a concern, Roland says, much like the rest of the group's musical career, there is no desire to live in the past: "When you play songs live... you pick up the energy from the crowd, and it kind of feeds itself. It's not like you're trying to replicate a past moment. It literally lives in that moment."
There's another moment Collective Soul is filling: the current state of the music industry. Band members spent their hiatus busy with solo projects. "I think that's very healthy, to step outside of what you [usually] create," says Roland, adding that it has breathed new life into the band's biggest endeavor during the age of self-release, self-promotion, and digital inundation. (This is likely only the first or second tour the band has promoted on Twitter.) Considering its history, Roland says, "I love what's going on with the changes in music. The industry's kind of taking some blows, which isn't good for some of the bigger labels and some of the artists, I suppose. But it's leveled the playing field. Now virtually anybody with a little bit of money can make a record. The veil has been lifted. Now there's access for everyone, and you can find a fan base."
The band, though, hasn't changed much, not in terms of its dynamic and its music-making process. Although there have certainly been shifts, the band's history is too long and too grounded for the group to stray from it. "In a lot of ways, [our dynamic] has [changed], and in a lot of ways, it hasn't," Roland explains. "I mean, Ed is my brother, and we've all been friends since we were young, so you have these consistencies that are rooted in your past history. But then you continue to develop as artists and change."
Staying true to themselves and to one another in the midst of a time-stamped era has been the group's modus operandi since the beginning. "You can still maintain where you came from," Roland says, "your roots and your influences."
"An Evening With Collective Soul" performing Dosage and other hits. 7 p.m. Friday, May 11, at Revolution Live, 100 SW Third Ave, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $24. Click here.
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