Collective Soul is not a band that rests on its laurels.
The Atlanta-based quintet have sold more than 20 million records and released a string of No. 1 alternative-rock singles since breaking onto the scene in 1993 with the gospel-infused hit rocker “Shine.” (Yeah!) Despite its healthy back catalog and enough hits to easily fill out a concert setlist — think one-word titled songs like “Run,” “Heavy,” “Gel,” “December” and “Energy” — Collective Soul is still all about creating and performing new music.
“We’ve been doing it for a while and we’re not young kids anymore,” said bassist Will Turpin in a recent phone interview, “but we still have a little bit of a, not necessarily bulldog (attitude), but we still have a punky thing about us that wants to show people what we can do still, you know what I mean? Not relax on the stuff we’ve done.
“The Collective Soul catalog is strong, it’s gigantic — we can’t really cover the catalog even if we don’t play new songs,” he continued. “But there’s something about the energy we feel, and we still have that same feeling when we create. The good songs that we create still make the hair stand up on my arms, you know? So we still have that thing that wants to show people new stuff. And our fans react to it and they’re used to it. They know they’re going to catch something new at our show. And it’s just part of our artistic side that we enjoy, too.”
Turpin was calling from Greensboro, North Carolina, where the band had a show that night as part of its 36-city co-headlining “Rock and Roll Express” tour with 3 Doors Down. The tour, which makes a local stop on Wednesday at the Utah State Fairpark in Salt Lake City, is nearing the end of the tracks. It wraps up Sept. 16 in Phoenix.
Though the bands are somewhat different stylistically, Turpin said response has been good to the overall pairing.
“It’s rock and roll, right? So that allows for all types of sound and emotion,” Turpin said. “So I get a lot of great feedback from fans about the two bands being packaged together. I get real detailed when it comes to the actual sound of music, but, yeah, I think it’s a good package.”
Not only is Collective Soul determined to perform new music in concert, but also often features songs that are so fresh that they haven’t even been released yet. While that in itself exhibits a certain amount of confidence, Collective Soul frequently doubles down on that swagger by placing those songs in key spots in the setlist. For example, glancing over the setlists for the current tour, it appears the group is opening shows with two currently unreleased songs.
“Yeah, like I said there’s still that edgy, like confident, cocky or overconfident (attitude),” Turpin said. “Not like arrogant, it’s just part of the energy of what we do.”
If you need more evidence of the band’s dedication to new music, check this out. Collective Soul is marking its 25th anniversary next year, and to celebrate the band plans to release a 25-song double album of new material. According to Turpin, 20 of those songs have already been recorded.
Turpin said the band isn’t sure what form the anniversary release will take specifically.
“It will be a double album, but I’m not sure how we’re going to roll it out,” he said. “It might not be, ‘Here’s release day, here’s 25 songs.’ It might be that we try to work a little more with the modern streaming format.”
As for what the new batch of songs sound like, Turpin said there are a few new twists and turns, but overall it will be the type of material that Collective Soul fans have come to cherish.
“It’s just songs, and like I said, some of these songs are making my hair stand up on my arms,” Turpin said. “I think it’s hard to say we really veered off or whatever. Ultimately we can only do what Collective Soul does, but 25 years later I still think there’s depth and growth and some things that people will not see coming. Yet, I feel like Collective Soul fans, after they’ve heard it once, twice, a few times will be like, ‘That’s Collective Soul,’ even though they didn’t see it coming.”
What Utah Collective Soul fans should see coming, however, is a kick-butt rock show on Wednesday.
“We’re ready to rock,” Turpin said. “Collective Soul is feeling good. Believe me, we’re professional musicians and we’re very fortunate to be able to do this for a living and without being conceited, we’re throwing it out there right now. We’re crushing it. So we’re excited for people to see it.”