Few bands continue to influence the genre of modern rock as powerfully and extensively as Collective Soul. The Georgia-bred band of brothers rocketed into public consciousness when a breakout hit off their homemade demo, “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid,” helped to define the barefaced and barefooted music of the 1990s.
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“Once Georgia State University’s WRAS radio station started playing “Shine,” everything really gained traction and took off,” says rhythm guitarist Dean Roland. “In our mind, we were hoping we could get a record contract.”
The band soon signed with Atlantic Records; four records and seven U.S. modern rock No. 1’s later, they had altered the course of the genre indefinitely — if only because many bands that came afterwards sounded so much like them.
“There’s fresh perspective and appreciation to be our age and this far into our career and still be able to do it,” says Roland. “We take a lot pride and are very grateful for that.”
Roland grew up the youngest of three sons of a Southern Baptist preacher who had majored in music at Shorter University near Atlanta.
“He had a beautiful tenor voice,” says Roland of his late father. “Some of my earliest memories are of my mom playing piano, dad singing. Music was there from the beginning.”
The genesis of the band was enigmatic older brother Ed, who studied at Berklee College of Music before coming home to the small town of Stockbridge.
“His musical influences would trickle down to me,” he says. “Whatever he listened to, I thought was cool.”
Along with neighborhood friend Will Turpin on bass, Dean and Ed (who now goes by E), recently reached the 25-year mark with their homegrown rock project.
“[My brother] was always very driven, no question about that; to have success in the music industry you have to be,” says Roland. “He burned hard.”
After “Shine” caught the attention of college rock, radio stations around the country and dominated the golden age of MTV, the boys embarked on a nationwide tour while recording an eponymous follow-up featuring singles “December,” “Where the River Flows” and “The World I Know.”
“We always viewed it as we wanted a career out of this thing,” says Roland. “We didn’t want to be a flash in the pan. We wanted to stick around.”
If you don’t remember the names of these songs, trust me, you’d recognize their unforgettable hooks in a second. The sudden success took the 20-year-old on the trip of a lifetime.
“We were playing clubs in Atlanta,” he says. “We didn’t have a big following. Mostly it was our friends and girlfriends at the time who would come to our shows. When it took off, thousands of people were coming to see us. It kind of spins you sideways a little bit, but you take it in stride.”
Collective Soul holds the rare distinction of being one of the only bands to play both Woodstock ‘94 and ‘99.
“For us, we were in the middle of it,” says Roland. “You see it all happening. My take on the time was everything was glowing.”
With Sublime, Bush, Live, Gin Blossoms, The Smashing Pumpkins, Soul Asylum, Weezer and Third Eye Blind all wrapping up major summer tours this year, it’s safe to say a 90s revival is alive and well.
“I see it,” says Roland “Every moment in time has a 20-year thing where it comes back around and a younger generation catches onto it. There are a lot of really great songs from that era.”
25 Years Young
After years of non-stop touring and recording, along with a couple of divorces, the Roland brothers took one short break before delivering five more albums on indie labels since 2004. Their latest release, “Blood,” is a raw, distorted flash of the power chords and haunting licks that have been their trademark since the beginning.
“The idea of blood is we are all from the same family,” says Roland. “It’s the idea of having a band of brothers. All of us come from that same place.”
The humble, soft-spoken guitarist became the father of baby girl in January.
“I think it’s just heightened everything,” he says. “There’s an appreciation factor for where you are in life. Now this little person depends on you.”
As far as Collective Soul’s legacy, he says: “I hope it’s a positive one. And that people have appreciation and respect for the authenticity of it.” | montbleuresort.com