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Collective Soul kicks off the Canadian leg of their 20th anniversary tour in Nanaimo April 1 and hits Victoria the following night. Lead vocalist/founder Ed Roland took a break from recording the band’s ninth album, See What You Started by Continuing to share insight into how he got to where he is today – just as in love with his band as he was in 1993.
Monday Magazine: You’re at a landmark year for the band with the 20th anniversary. What was your philosophy at the outset in ‘93 and how has that evolved with your latest project?
Ed Roland: I was always just having fun. Then to be blessed and have success – it’s still fun. I wouldn’t want to do it if it wasn’t, and actually it’s more fun now because we’ve learned to accept where we are and what we’re about.
MM: If you could revisit any one part of the 20-year journey, would it be an opportunity to re-do something you viewed as a mistake, or would you take the chance to go back and revel in one of the highlights?
ER: I wouldn’t change anything. It’s easy to say you’d change things, but if you did that then I wouldn’t think you’d end up where you are. I’m really happy with where we are right now and I think we have a lot more to offer, so I kind of look towards the future.
MM: How do you stay so focused and positive, not only through criticisms of your music, but judgments of your faith and people who want to keep on asking you questions relating to whether or not you are a Christian rock band?
ER: Everybody’s got their own beliefs and I believe in the separation of rock and roll and religion. … I have what I believe in and I hold it very personal and very dear. My brother has his beliefs and he holds them very personal, very dear. It’s work and it’s play. ... We didn’t set out to say: ‘Let’s go make a message.’ We said: ‘Let’s go have fun and do the best music we can do.’ That’s all we’ve promised.
MM: You could easily stay working from a studio right now. What is it that drives you to get out in front of an audience?
ER: Because I don’t take that for granted. It took me 10 years before there was an audience. I would play clubs and the only people who would show up would be whoever I was dating at the time and that’s just because there was free beer. … I’m amazed every time we do a show that people come out and enjoy it. For me that’s the ultimate high. ... That’s what I’ve wanted to do since I was 14. To have the opportunity to do it – it would be foolish not to. You want your wish and it comes true and you say: ‘Nah, I don’t want that?’ I got my wish and I still love it.
MM: What kind of toll did a faltering record industry and the rise of digital have on your process and how difficult is it to keep your band together, to keep producing when there are so many outside forces at play?
ER: Fortunately we were sort of aware of what was going on and we embraced it. The problem with the record industry was that they were too late to embrace. ... I love the digital age because it’s more fun to record; I can easily record what I’m doing and not forget songs. (For) the creative process (it) really helps. The digital age has made it a lot easier for me to go out and find more new music and new bands. Before that was a trek to the record store. Now it’s on your smartphone.
MM: Do you have a personal favourite Collective Soul record – either for the finished sound, or the process?
ER: I have three. I love Dosage. I think that was a point when we were really finding our sound. We were given time to find what we were about. I like Youth because that was a very difficult period in the band. In any relationship, there are ups and downs. It was a very difficult time and for us to come out on the other end, I really love that record. Then the new one that we’re doing now. Once again, to be around 20 years doing anything and to feel like you’re doing your strongest work – it’s very self-pleasing.
Collective Soul on stage April 2 at the Royal Theatre rmts.bc.ca