As Collective Soul’s recognition moved beyond their hometown of Stockbridge, Georgia, the media and the record industry said the band came up out of nowhere—they were an overnight success. But their lead singer and guitarist, Ed Roland, knows their “overnight success” was more than 12 years in the making.
Ed Roland and his brother, guitarist Dean Roland, grew up in a very strict household. Their father, Eddie Roland, was a southern Baptist minister, while their mother, Lynette, taught children with special needs. Until the boys became teenagers, the only rock n’ roll they heard came from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis records. But Eddie Roland often used music to minister to his church, and his sons Ed and Dean both became interested in playing guitar.
After graduating from high school, Ed Roland moved to Boston for a year to study at the renowned Berklee School of Music. When he returned to Stockbridge, he landed a job at a local recording studio, which he used to record his own music during the studio’s off-hours. In the late 1980s, Roland, lead guitarist Ross Childress, and drummer Shane Evans played in a band called Marching Two Step.
In 1992 Roland, Childress, and Evans left Marching Two Step to form a new group called Collective Soul. They named the band after a concept from the classic novel The Fountainheadby Ayn Rand. Even before the days of Marching Two Step, Roland had sent demo tapes to every major label, hoping for a break. Year after year, he received rejections. In November of 1992, Collective Soul played a showcase for several of the big record companies—still to no avail. “We had done all these conventions, and had record people flying to see us, and no one took interest,” Ed Roland told RIP magazine. “Basically, I had just had enough of the whole thing. So I told the guys, ‘I’m dissolving the band—I do not want to do it anymore.’”
Roland spent the first three months of 1993 sequestered in the basement studio of his manager’s house. He had decided that if he couldn’t make it as a performer after 12 years of trying, he would attempt to get a publishing deal and sell his songs to other artists. He recorded a brand new set of songs for his demo and started sending them out.
While he was shipping out the demos, he went ahead and sent a copy to Georgia State University’s radio station, WRAS, under the name Brothers and Brides.
For the Record…
Members include Ross Childress, lead guitar; Shane Evans, drums; Dean Roland, guitar; Ed Roland, vocals and guitar; and Will Turpin, bass guitar.
Band formed in Stockbridge, GA, in 1992, and disbanded until mid-1993. Debut album, Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, released independently, 1993; rereleased on Atlantic Records, 1994. Firstsingle, “Shine,” spent eight weeks at Number One on the AOR charts. Collective Soul released on Atlantic, 1995.
Selected Awards: Billboard Music Award for best rock song, 1996, for “December.”
Addresses: Record company —Atlantic Records, 9229 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90069.
The station started playing the song “Shine,” and Roland’s project began to gain local attention. In September and October of 1993, he got Evans, Childress, his brother Dean, and longtime friend and bassist Will Turpin together for some live performances. By the end of the year, the band decided to stay together and record under the name Collective Soul. They added three of the songs they recorded in Marching Two Step to Roland’s existing demo and released the CD Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid on the independent Rising Storm label.
Once again, Collective Soul sent their new CD to major record labels and received more rejections. But they also shipped the album to radio stations all over the country. Soon, many other radio stations joined WRAS in playing “Shine,” and the band’s popularity skyrocketed.
By February of 1994, Atlantic Records had signed the band to a record contract. Atlantic remixed the CD and released it on their label just two months later, eliminating only one of the original songs. “Shine” became a gold single and spent eight weeks on top of the AOR charts. Roland’s 12-year effort had come to fruition. “We were very shocked,” he said in the band’s press bio. “I was hoping to sell 10-20,000 records, just enough to make a real Collective Soul album.”
The group spent the next few months touring and in August of 1994 celebrated a week of career excitement. “It was probably the biggest week of our lives,” Roland recalled in the press packet interview. “Wednesday we played in Toronto and got presented our Canadian platinum record. Friday we played Woodstock’94— sharing the stage with some of our favorite bands. The following Monday we started our opening tour with Aerosmith. And two days later we were certified platinum in the States. It was like one big blur…. I woke up Thursday morning shaking, asking myself, ’What’s gonna happen today?’”
The whirlwind kept going throughout the rest of 1994. Collective Soul released the single “Breathe” in October. The band performed on The Late Show with David Letterman even though Roland’s guitar amp had blown up before they went on. And they recorded a new song called “Gel” for The Jerky Boys film soundtrack.
The group decided to self-title their second album—which was released in the spring of 1995—since they saw it as their first “official” album as a band. Hints compiled Ed Roland’s songs, but Collective Soul ‘represented the entire group’s effort. The band’s megahit, “December,” showcased their musical versatility. “‘December’ is a much moodier song [than ‘Shine’],” Roland explained in the band’s press biography. “We wanted people to know that there’s a different side to us.” The song went on to capture the Billboard Music Award for best rock song.
After the release of Collective Soul, the band hit the touring circuit once again, opening for rock veterans Van Halen. Two months later, they went out on their own, headlining smaller venues as the success of their first “official” album soared. Though a few members of the press predicted Collective Soul would be a “one-hit wonder” with “Shine,” the group had proved them wrong. After a dozen years of working for their success, the band wasn’t about to give up that easily—nor did they take it for granted. “When I start feeling down, I feel like I’m being selfish because there are so many people out there who wish they could be doing what we’re doing,” noted Roland. “I worked hard to be in this position for many years, and I’m very thankful to be here. I won’t take it for granted. It could be a lot worse.”
Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid, Rising Storm, 1993, reissued, Atlantic, 1994.
Collective Soul, Atlantic, 1995.
Billboard, May 14, 1994; October 1, 1994.
Bone, May 1995.
Detroit Free Press, May 6, 1994.
Entertainment Weekly, May 27, 1994; March 17, 1995.
Guitar, June 1995; July 1995.
Musician, December 1994.
RIP magazine, September 1994.
Rolling Stone, July 14, 1994; December 29, 1994-January 12, 1995; June 15, 1995.
Sassy, July 1995.
Seattle Times, June 24, 1994.
Stereo Review, June 1995.
Additional information for this profile was obtained from Atlantic Records press material, 1995.
"Collective Soul." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/collective-soul
"Collective Soul." Contemporary Musicians. . Retrieved December 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/collective-soul
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Formed: 1993, Stockbridge, Georgia
Members: Ross Childress, guitar (born Stockbridge, Georgia, 8 September 1970); Shane Evans, drums (born Stock-bridge, Georgia, 26 April 1970); Dean Roland, guitar (born Stockbridge, Georgia, 10 October 1972); Ed Roland, lead vocals, guitar (born Grandview, Texas, 3 August 1963); Will Turpin, vocals, bass (born Fairbanks, Alaska, 8 February 1971).
Best-selling album since 1990: Collective Soul (1995)
Hit songs since 1990: "Shine," "World I Know," "December"
Collective Soul earned a reputation in the mid-1990s as a hard rock band with driving guitar riffs and striking melodies. After the success of their hit song "Shine" from the album Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid (1994), Collective Soul gained widespread attention by performing at Woodstock '94 and touring with Aerosmith and Van Halen. Their second album, Collective Soul (1995), contains the hits "The World I Know" and "December"; the latter was named Album Rock Song of the Year by Billboard. Ed Roland, the principal songwriter for the band, resurrected guitar rock of the 1970s with contemporary textures. Although the band's popularity diminished after their initial splash of success, Collective Soul continued to experiment with a hard-rock aesthetic.
The group's songwriter, Ed Roland, grew up in a strict household and was discouraged from pursuing a musical career. Nevertheless, Roland moved away from his home-town of Stockbridge, Georgia, in order to study guitar at the Berklee College of Music. Plagued by financial difficulties, Roland returned to Stockbridge, where he worked at a local recording studio and formed a band that performed for many years without any major success.
In 1993 the song "Shine" was picked up by college radio stations and was soon being played on major rock stations in Atlanta. The EP Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid, originally intended as a songwriting demo, was re-released by Atlantic Records, and the hastily formed Collective Soul was soon performing at large venues such as Woodstock '94 and various arena tours. "Shine," which was eventually named Billboard 's number one Hot Album Rock Track of 1994, exemplified the band's musical approach in several ways: a reliance on guitar-driven riffs, unique changes in textures, and anthemlike melodies, as exemplified in the chorus, "Oh, heaven let your light shine down." A melodic guitar introduction mirrors the vocal line, which then leads into an aggressive distorted guitar riff coupled with the ubiquitous exclamation, "Yeah!" The double-time guitar solo and bridge reveals the influence of 1970s rock, but the song unexpectedly returns to the distorted riff, a strategy that evinces careful attention to structural details.
Collective Soul returned to the recording studio and quickly produced their eponymous second album in 1995. The song "December," with its descending bass progression and harmonic palate, exhibits a relaxed musical approach and highlights the lyrics, which range from the poetic ("Don't throw away your basic needs—ambience and vanity") to the awkward ("December promise," with the emphasis on De cember) The ballad "The World I Know" begins with an acoustic guitar and showcases tasteful string orchestration. The full chorus is withheld until the second iteration, producing a yearning quality that is poignantly reflected in the lyrics.
Collective Soul became embroiled in a lawsuit with their manager, Bill Richardson. After prolonged litigation, the band retreated to Stockbridge, rented a cabin, and began writing songs for their next album. The result of these efforts, Disciplined Breakdown (1997), was more pop-oriented, with harmonic progressions that felt awkward and forced. Collective Soul returned to their signature brand of rock in the subsequent albums, Dosage (1999) and Blender (2000).
Collective Soul forged a sound that embraced guitar-rock with melodic vocal lines. Their songs conjured images of the guitar hero in "Heavy" and evoked 1970s rock groups in "Gel" and "Next Homecoming." Aside from Disciplined Breakdown, Collective Soul largely eschewed the guitar pop embodied by the Spin Doctors or Goo Goo Dolls. In so doing, they crafted songs that expanded formal expectations while maintaining a coherent approach through their economic lyrics and riff-driven structure.
Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid (Atlantic, 1994); Collective Soul (Atlantic, 1995); Disciplined Breakdown (Atlantic, 1997); Dosage (Atlantic, 1999); Blender (Atlantic, 2000); 7even Year Itch: The Greatest Hits, 1994–2001 (Atlantic, 2001).
"Collective Soul." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 10, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/collective-soul
"Collective Soul." Baker's Biographical Dictionary of Popular Musicians Since 1990. . Retrieved December 10, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/collective-soul