Collective Soul is a rock 'n' roll constant in the hallowed electric church. It's a mondo-hit-making machine that bypasses the pop vacuum with credible rock, hooks, and substance. This year marks 20 years of career highs and lows and a string of undeniable hits for the Atlanta-based outfit. And as a warm up for the impending release of its new (and ninth) studio album, "See What You Started By Continuing," Collective Soul front man, Ed Roland is hitting the unplugged highway to mount stages acoustically. This rare, dialed-back approach will give the listener a stark, stripped down view into Collective Soul — and specifically, Roland's head and the wealth of incredible songwriting found there-in.
Roland's stop in town last year was with his Americana side-band, The Sweet Tea Project. Although Roland contends it's not a side project in its impact and relevance, The Sweet Tea Project showcased an even rootsier side to the man. Raucous and charming and a bit looser than Collective Soul, you could still hear Collective Soul burning just beneath the surface — as I'm sure there's some Sweet Tea to be heard brewing in Collective Soul. It's all Roland.
CITY sat down with Roland for a hot minute to discuss getting back to where the band started, and see what he has started by continuing.
CITY: Tell us a little about the new album.
Ed Roland: We kind of went back to where we started with a lot of guitars but still with pop driven melodies.
How does it feel getting back into the Collective Soul groove after playing with The Sweet Tea Project?
It's been great. We took some time off after 19 years. It was a great holiday for everybody and it rejuvenated the whole projects again.
How and where does this album fit in the whole Collective Soul pantheon?
It sounds like early Collective Soul, but it's the best Collective Soul yet
How has the band evolved?
After 20 years, you'd like to think you get better at your craft no matter what that craft it. And I think we've become better friends and understand each other, and where we want to go musically.
Has The Sweet Tea Project changed your view or approach to Collective Soul?
Yes, it's opened my songwriting up a lot, especially lyrically. It's helped me to open up lyrically and not be afraid to tell stories.
What is the common thread shared by both bands, if any?
The attempt at strong melodies.
For you, what must a song always have before it's done?
I guess there're two things: memorable lyrics and a memorable melody.
How has your songwriting process changed over the years? How has it remained the same?
It's always remained the same. That is; it's always been honest. After 20 years, I would like to think I've grown as a person which means I've grown as a songwriter with the subjects that I write about.
Will The Sweet Tea Project forever be a side band for you? Or perhaps something more?
I never considered it a side band. It's very important to me and my soul. It's just another expression of what I'm about.
What is it about playing acoustically in a small club show that you can't get in bigger venues?
True form of how the song was written. That's how it starts and that's how it should end.
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