By his own admission, Collective Soul frontman E (formerly Ed) Roland is an old soul. A hippie at heart.
“I just think that’s the way to go about life,” the singer/guitarist said during a recent phone interview. “There’s nothing wrong with not agreeing with every ideology or idea, but communicate in a loving manner. You can listen, you can learn and you can love. It’s really the three ‘L’s’ that I like to live by.”
If one were to add a fourth “L” to describe Roland’s mutual mindset with Collective Soul, it would be “longevity.” The Atlanta-based alternative rock band celebrated its 25th anniversary with the June 21 release of the new album, “Blood.”
Collective Soul is currently on the road, bringing “Blood” and myriad catalog hits to the masses on the “Now’s the Time Tour,” along with co-headliner Gin Blossoms. The tour makes its Utah appearance on Tuesday, Aug. 27, at Sandy Amphitheater.
(This interview has been edited for length.)
DOUG FOX: When I’ve seen you guys over the years … you always play your new material with a vengeance, and I love that. Where does that attitude come from — and how have you avoided falling into that trap of just doing mostly hits?
E ROLAND: Well, we always say this: “We were formed in the ‘90s, but we’re not a ‘90s band.” We’re still making music. I’m still writing. I’m still creating. And that’s what’s the driving force in this band. If I had to go out and rely on just “Shine” or “World I Know,” to me that’s giving up. I still haven’t written the best song I can write, I feel like, so that’s what I search for every day when I wake up is that song. And I don’t know if I’ll ever get it, but I just feel like that’s the driving force. And the guys are so sweet and follow that path. I believe in that. And I would never not play the songs that presented us to the public, but at the same time I want to present what I’m going through now, and the band, to the public.
FOX: “Blood” is kind of a perfect example of that. I mean, you essentially recorded a double album and if what I’ve heard is right, you had to be convinced by the record company to not release them both at the same time. That’s incredible.
ROLAND: Yeah, in this day and age, they were like, “Are you a moron?” No. You know streaming is so popular. You know when I grew up in the era and the time, double albums were some of my favorite records of all time, the “White” album, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “Frampton Comes Alive,” those meant a lot to me. So when you get time, in the back of your head, you go, “I’m going to make a lot of music and I’m going to make a double album.” It’s an ego thing in a sense. But at the same time, we were on fire. The band was on fire. We toured for three years, I came in and had songs that they really liked, and we knocked it out in like a month. With that being said, you have to be sensible about it. You have to be practical about all this. … So the second part of the record will come out next year. But it still comes out. Once again it goes back to: We, like, create new music. That’s why we got into this.
FOX: So let’s talk about “Blood.” … I’m wondering if you can comment on the title, and how it might relate to themes running through the album?
ROLAND: Well, “Blood,” to me, references a lot of things. My father being a minister, blood is very much a part of the biblical story, and having a band with my brother in it is a big deal and growing up with these cats, it just felt like family. To me it just means family. And you don’t necessarily have to have the same blood type, or mom or dad, to be family. You come together, break bread, enjoy music and love life. To me that’s what we were going for with the title.
FOX: “Good Place to Start” just has an immediately recognizable Tom Petty influence — which I know is exactly what you were going for — but also a lot of ingredients that make it a great Collective Soul song. How far along in the process did you write “Good Place to Start,” in relation to other things on the album?
ROLAND: That happened actually two days after the Las Vegas shootings and Tom Petty’s passing. And I just, as we all were, was sending out prayers, thoughts and energy to all the victims and the Tom Petty family. I just wanted to do something that felt right at that moment for me. It was therapeutic. And the whole point of doing it in a style like Tom, “Here Comes My Girl” is one of my favorite songs of all time. So the speaking part, and the first line we talked about was a guy with a gun, I didn’t want it to be about the shooting, it was more about this crazy cat in North Korea. But then I kind of thought about the tourist in Las Vegas thing in the second verse, I just wanted to write about that one moment, literally two days after all that happened, you know? It doesn’t take me long to write a song, no more than 30 minutes, 45 minutes at the most. It’s just me absorbing my emotions and putting it to … I use pencil and paper, and you know, the iPhone.
FOX: So I’m kind of stunned when you say it takes you no more than 30 minutes to write a song.
ROLAND: Yeah, and that’s pushin’ it. I get bored after that point.
FOX: One thing I’ve seen you guys do which I think is totally unique, and I’ve never really seen anybody do anything like it before, is how you end your shows with “Run.” You gradually leave the stage one at a time. And then when you leave the stage you’re still playing acoustic even backstage as the audience sings along. And I just find that it’s just kind of a communal experience with the audience. I’m just wondering how you guys first came up with that ending?
ROLAND: Well I came up with it because I was tired of doing encores, ‘cause I found that to be the most egotistical thing on the planet. Because we’re walking off stage, and people are clapping, and we know we’re going to go back out. To me, I just want to play as long as I can. And then walking off stage playing, and then the crowd singing with me, to me means we’re together forever. Like, just because we’re gone doesn’t mean we’re forgotten. The audience isn’t forgotten. That’s the way we wanted to present it.
FOX: Are you ever tempted to ever string things out even longer some nights when you finish “Run” backstage? I’m sure you have kind of a set way that you end it, but are there some nights you just say, “Screw it, I’m going to play this several more times?”
ROLAND: Oh yeah, I feel that when we get back (there) because we all crowd around together. We’re still in it together. People can’t see us backstage, but we’re huddled around each other and we’re singing together, and Johnny’s playing the tambourine, Jesse’s dancing — it’s our celebration moment. It really is. Once again, I go back to, we want people to know that we love you, we haven’t forgotten about you and hopefully the same thing in turn … you love us, you won’t forget us.