Collective Soul had a lot riding on 2020 that no one knew about. In 2019, the Georgia band released their 10th studio album Blood, which was designed to be the first half of a double album. The double album would get released in 2020, marking the band’s 25th anniversary. A special reissue of their debut, Hints, Allegations & Things Left Unsaid, was planned, heralding classics like “The World I Know,” “December,” and “Shine.” Of course, when the COVID-19 pandemic descended on the world, all of those plans fell apart, Collective Soul frontman Ed Roland tells SPIN.
“We recorded [that half of the double album] four years ago … before we realized people don’t make double albums anymore,” he said. Blood was always a side A of something else. Now, that other half has expanded in terms of music and vision, beyond what Roland ever saw coming. “We kind of forgot about it for a year and a half or so,” says Roland. “But we listened back to it and we were like, ‘Whoa, that was pretty darn cool.’”
Those cool, shelved tracks became Collective Soul’s 11th studio album, Vibrating, which arrives August 12. The masterful pop-rock effort kicks off with “All Our Pieces,” a song about the ever-changing nature of relationships. As Roland describes it, “you got to go to that point where you say we’re not clicking on all cylinders but we’ll get there, you know it’s there because you had it before.” Recorded with the help of engineer/musician Shawn Grove, lovingly referred to as the sixth member of Collective Soul (“he’s a Wizard of Oz back there,” Roland says.) Having Grove shape the record was a comfort, Roland adds, since, they come from similar musical backgrounds. “I’m not really much of a streamer, I’m a vinyl guy,” Roland says, “we literally sit downstairs and I’ll play him a song and then go ‘I kind of want this vibe.’”
With the 25th anniversary come and gone, Collective Soul has refocused its sights on its 30th anniversary. “We’re not the normal rock and roll band, we really enjoy each other’s company,” Roland says with a chuckle, “to be able to say that we’re still able to go on the road – we’re about to be gone for a three-month tour – 28 years later, I mean, come on, that’s like winning the lottery.”
The songs on Vibrating live in the Collective Soul spirit. They are born of the attention to detail in crafting the unmistakable hits that drove the band into the spotlight all those years ago. “We like to borrow from our heroes,” Roland says, “right now the band is going to come in and work on that something that’s a very early Elton John vibe, and that comes with competence and feeling like we can do it, you know?”
Time and experience bring a lot to anyone’s craft, on a long enough timeline we all become journeymen in our own trades. “I’m don’t think I’m an expert, but I feel competent,” Roland says, “there’s a difference between ego and confidence and we’re very confident in what we do. Ego means you think you’ve already done it and you can learn no more, competence means you’re always willing to learn.”
Vibrating is a band firing on all cylinders, their craft having been honed and sharpened over the years. There’s also been time spent dabbling in side projects (Roland has recorded under the name Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project, and a New Wave-inspired band called Alien Attitude), which have reinvigorated the sound of Collective Soul. “You don’t want to alienate your audience too much, you can stretch things as much as you can, but I do think it brings different ideas in there, like [adding a] piano and not being afraid of different tempos, or even lyrically what to write about, it kind of opened me up to be a little bit more honest.”
With the release of Vibrating, Collective Soul is poised and ready for the future of the band, one which honors the past but revels in the present. There are plenty of future plans laid on the foundation that has been sitting confidently for almost three decades now. As for Vibrating, the proof of the pudding is in the taste, “just tell everyone to listen to it,” Roland says, “tell everyone, I dare you to listen to it three times!”