Collective Soul’s Ed Roland wants to start over at the Commodore

Collective Soul - Just a Bunch of Dudes on a Street Corner, just bein dudes


By Steve Newton

You might wonder why a band as popular as Collective Soul is playing the Commodore, when it’s obvious the group could pack in at least a few thousand more folks somewhere else. The gig next Thursday (September 14) sold out instantly, and scalped tickets will no doubt be a hot commodity come showtime. But it wasn’t just some crazy mix-up on the booking end of things: there’s a method to the Alabama quintet’s madness. It also has to do with the reason the group named its second album simply Collective Soul.

“We wanted to start over,” says singer-songwriter Ed Roland, calling from a road stop in Tucson, Arizona. “Basically we consider this our debut record, ’cause the last one was a demo, and it really wasn’t a full band. So for this one we wanted to get out and start all over, wipe last year, ’cause I think too much happened too quick for us.”

What happened was a tune called “Shine”, which became a regional hit in Georgia thanks to college-radio airplay, then turned into an international AOR smash. The band followed that surprising success with “Gel”, a grinding rocker from the Jerky Boys soundtrack that was released prior to Collective Soul and had fans foaming at the mouth in anticipation of that disc’s release. And the group’s popularity rose a notch or two last year when it performed “Gel” on The Late Show with David Letterman, although Roland had to do the tune sans guitar after his amp blew up and he couldn’t get a replacement.

“You don’t want to practise it the first night without havin’ a guitar on national television,” he says, “but we did it and it went over well, and it kinda opened our eyes. I put the guitar down a lot in the live shows, and it kinda lets me be a little bit of a front man, you know, a clown onstage a little bit.”

As well as clowning around to the popular strains of “Shine” and “Gel”, Roland will be rolling out newer tunes such as “Bleed”, which tells of a rather frightening and bizarre incident that occurred at his home when he was a youngster.

“My dad was a minister,” he says, “so a lot of people would come over for help. And there just happened to be a time where someone needed help, and was waving a gun around. No harm was done, but it was me writing it from the mind-set of a 12-year-old kid.”

Although his band has played such prestigious venues as Woodstock ’94, Roland notes that the Commodore is right up there with the biggies.

“We’re out with the band Rusty from Toronto,” he says, “and they were talking about what a great place it is, saying it’s a dream of theirs to play there. It’s got a floating floor or something like that, doesn’t it?”

The Commodore floor will surely be buoyant by the time “Gel” has worked its manic magic on the packed house, and that could make the show as memorable for Collective Soul as the last one it played here, at the Town Pump in ’94.

“We remember it mostly because Tom Cochrane was there,” says Roland of his previous Vancouver visit. “Tom walked by and I was like, ‘Whoa, Tom Cochrane!’ It kind of fired us up to do a decent show.”

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