The only thing on Ed Roland ‘s 41-year-old mind these days is getting younger. In fact, the entire Collective Soul crew has found a way to combat the aging process.
“It feels like we’re 20 again,” says Roland, leader of the glossy grunge group.
Collective Soul haven’t taken a magic anti-aging pill though. Instead, the group have returned to rock ‘n’ roll after a four year absence with their latest disc, Youth.
Roland, who looks the same kind of youthful as Bono, is bundled up in a heavy winter coat and dawns dark sunglasses, even though it’s too dark to see across the cold Opera House. Flipping his long blonde hair occasionally, Collective Soul’s frontman says he truly feels like the band are just a bunch guys playing in their first rock band.
“We feel youthful. I think the music shows it too,” says Roland. “Musically it’s youthful and lyrically it’s youthful. When you start a band, you get into it to have fun. Somewhere we lost that, so when we went at this process again it was like we were just getting into it again, because it was fun.”
Although the band might feel like they’re starting anew, the group have actually been around for over 10 years. For almost all of those years the group called Atlantic records home, where they sold over seven million discs and released hit after hit including “Shine,” “Gel” and “December.” After the band’s sixth record, Blender, the group parted ways with their label.
“We had fulfilled our agreement – actually I think we owed them two more, but anyway, there was no support system here at all,” he says. “We wanted and felt we deserved to be a bigger band than we could. So we said, ‘Fine, here’s the greatest hits, two new songs and see you later.’ I don’t think they truly respected us and we didn’t respect them. It was the right thing to do.
“They didn’t care if Collective Soul grew. They knew it was right there and they could count on it every time. We hadn’t been giving the right opportunity and chances.”
Instead of letting industry pressures get the better of them, Ed and the band chose to take matters into their own hands, by starting their own label stateside – Warner Canada still represents them here.
“We felt we could make Collective Soul grow,” he says. “We’re looking at a 12-month picture, not first quarter, not first-week Soundscan. This was the ability to own what we create and that really excited me. There are all kinds of opportunities now.”
Their first opportunity to show that they can still churn out the hits comes on their latest disc. The first release on the El Music Group imprint, Youth, is a return to Collective Soul’s mid ‘90s roots – polished power chord tunes – but this time it does away with much of their famous riff rock. And Roland likes it that way.
“I think it’s by far the best we’ve done,” Roland says. “It went back more to songwriting than riff writing. There’s less riff rock and that was a conscious effort, I wanted to grow. I just didn’t want people to say, ‘Oh here comes Collective Soul. What guitar riff are we going to hear now?’ We still have a few on there, but I wanted the songs to be the focus, I best describe it like songs on my first two CDs with the production of dosage.”
Whether or not Youth is the band’s best work is up for debate, but Roland feels that in the end Collective Soul will succeed because of his youthful exuberance.
“It’s always been about the music, but more importantly, I feel it and have fun with it again.”