Ed Roland (Photo by Ben Rose/WireImage.com ©2004)
By Brian M. Howle
Stockbridge, Georgia’s Collective Soul is in the midst of switching PR agencies, as they await the fall release of their new CD. The new agency was most gracious in accommodating Alternatives with a telephone interview of the group’s founder, songwriter and guitarist, Ed Roland, prior to their July 22, 2004 show at the House Of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.
Howle: How is your summer going? What are you up to in preparation for the upcoming tour?
Roland: Well, it’s kind of hard to hear you … I’m at Sea World (Orlando), and Jimmy Buffet is blaring in the background! ….
Howle: Okay, I’ll give you time to find a quiet spot …
Roland: There, that’s better … Well, I’m doing a sort of hybrid of a week of shows and vacationing with my little boy.
Howle: Well, that’s what’s really important when it comes down to it, huh?
Roland: Oh yes, it is, most definitely.
Howle: So, have you started the new tour yet?
Roland: Well, these are more like … this isn’t really a tour; we’ve just finished recording our new CD (Youth), and we start mixing it next week in LA. In between that and this, we decided to get out and do a few shows. But we really won’t kick the tour off until the record comes out, and that won’t be until the fall.
Howle: What’s your writing process? Are you a disciplined writer, or do the tunes just sorta come out of your head at will?
Roland: I’m not disciplined, that’s for sure. I can’t wake up, have a cup of coffee, and then put pen to paper by 9 a.m.; that’s definitely not me. But that doesn’t mean I don’t write in the morning – my life, it fits around wherever I am, so wherever it happens, it happens. I really don’t know the secret … if I truly knew that, I would have done it a long time ago. (Laughs) I’ll just keep going like this, and probably do it that way for the rest of my life. A lot of times it’s just me goofing off. During warm-ups between shows, I’ll be sitting in the back of the bus, warming up – I don’t have a regimented warm-up, I just have my guitar and I’ll start making things up as I go. And that’s how a lot of songs came out, over the years, because I have to write on the road so much.
Howle: So does it refine down into a collaboration with the band, or do you have finite ideas of how you want the parts to go?
Roland: Well, I’ve been writing longer than anybody in the band, so they sorta look to me for the writing. We work together on the songs, I think there’s one song on the new CD that I co-wrote with the producer, Dexter Green, who’s on a couple of songs. But for the most part, they look to me to write. And I present it to them, and it’s not always like, “Oh yeah, that’s great, Ed!” Sometimes it’s like, “Hey man, you need to come back in here with something else!” (Laughs) But that’s good, because it’s the way it should be. They’re proud of what we do.
Howle: How do you guys think “Dosage” (their previous release) turned out?
Roland: Dosage? Hey, I think it’s the best one we’ve done. Really, I’m very proud of that one.
Howle: Alright, here’s where we delve into that Barbara Walterseque question, sort of like “If you could be a tree?”. If you were reincarnated as a show venue (auditorium, amphitheater, etc.), which one would you most want to be – based on the experiences you’ve had playing there, or as a fan attending a show? I mean, is there any particular, favorite one, or one where there’s the best ambiance for the crowd, or the sound?
Roland: Wow … Tough question. … Wow … I can’t even remember the names of the venues, much less a favorite one. (Both laugh) Plus, I’m still trying to walk around a find a place where Jimmy Buffet isn’t blaring in my ear – man, they’ve got him playing everywhere! Um, what’s the one … Oh, I can’t think of the name, the one in San Francisco …I love that venue, it’s a great venue. And for all those bands that were there in the ‘60s … [Tom] Petty did a whole string of shows there about three or four years ago. It’s where all that underground music started …
Howle: The Filmore?
Roland: Oh, the Filmore, the Filmore! That’s it! Yeah, it’s a great sized venue, and it’s just a great vibe every time we go there. I love that!
Howle: Well, there just seem to be some places that have that vibe, that palpable vibe, and you can feel it.
Roland: Yeah, you can feel the history. I guess that’s what makes it, you know? You can be in any room, and if the people have the energy, that’s great and all. But in that place, you walk in and go “Wow, man!”, and look at all the posters on the wall, and it’s a pretty impressive place.
Howle: I know what you mean. So, what’s in the future for you and Collective Soul?
Roland: Just look for our new CD that’s coming out in the fall, entitled Youth. And we’re really excited; we had more time to record this one than any other, so we feel like we did it justice, having that time off to do it. And then we’ll be back on turn by then.
Howle: Alright, and you enjoy your stay with the family, and we’ll be looking forward to seeing Collective Soul here in Myrtle Beach.
Roland: Thank you, Brian, and you enjoy your summer, also.
There is one characteristic about Ed that is inescapable. His demeanor is that of the most positive, energetic and happy types of people you would ever want to meet. The kind of feel-good vibe that leaves you feeling better than before this person spoke to you. And anyone who has every attended a Collective Soul concert knows what I’m talking about. Ed is the consummate frontman, a blend of charisma, charm, extreme talent, unbridled energy and passionate performances. Discover the diverse musical styles of Collective Soul at http://www.sanctuaryrecords.com, and look for their new release, Youth, in stores this fall.
The previous article appeared in Alternatives NewsMagazine, July 29, 2004.