Before Collective Soul hit the road with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum last summer, they’d hoped to have a new album ready. However, a creative burst from band leader E Roland stretched the project to two discs and a delayed release. Then management nixed plans for a double album.
So Blood — named for the strong connection between band members Will Turpin, Jesse Triplett, Johnny Rabb and E’s brother Dean Roland — became a single CD, reflecting the cream of Roland’s output.
“Now we have to come up with a name for the second record,” Roland said with a laugh during a recent phone interview.
Tom Petty inspired the first two singles from the new effort, which arrives June 21 on Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA. “Right as Rain” echoes Petty’s “Jammin’ Me” – Roland told Billboard, “I have no problem saying that I borrowed the riff” – and “A Good Place to Start” employs a narrated verse a la “Here Comes My Girl.”
Petty’s death in 2017 hit him hard.
“Other than Elton or Elvis Costello, I probably saw him more in concert than anyone else,” Roland said. “He was so consistent … and his band was one of the greatest in the world. It became that you expected it, like nice wine with dinner.”
The new record has a “fun” vibe, reflective of the energy that newest members Johnny Rabb and Jesse Triplett bring to the band.
“It was like changing the spark plugs; they got us fired up,” Roland said. “Not only in intensity, but just in having fun with it again. It brought excitement.”
A few guests, like Sugarland’s Kristian Bush and guitarist Peter Stroud (Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan) added to Blood’s house-party vibe.
“They happened to be home when musicians are … before the summer tours,” Roland said. “These are friends ours that we’ve known a long time. We have the ability to just hang out with them, and talk them into playing.”
They’re currently touring with Gin Blossoms, a band they’ve known since their ’90s heyday.
“It’s a good connection we have,” Roland said. “Everybody enjoys each other’s company, which is very important when you’re on the road. There are no egos, with everybody wanting to compete with each other, and they’re a band with great songs. It’s sets the tone for a good night of music.”
The decade is experiencing a resurgence and a level of respect reflecting an acknowledgement that there was more to it than Nirvana and Pearl Jam.
“It’s well-deserved, with all those bands,” Roland said. “It’s funny… grunge, and now post-grunge, we never thought of ourselves as anything more than a rock ’n’ roll band. Whatever you want to put before and afterward, as long as ‘suck’ is not in there, we’re happy.”
With another summer of shows ramping up, Roland is still glad to be playing music.
“We always say it’s like going to camp; I see my buddies, and we’re very blessed,” he said, adding that it’s an enviable way to earn a living. “Think about it; if I go to a grocery store and get my change, I’m not clapping for the clerk. You get applause every night for doing a job. It’s a warm fuzzy feeling.”
On the other hand, getting older isn’t Roland’s favorite thing, and it’s also the reason he changed his first name to a single vowel — with, it should be noted, mainly humorous intent.
“We do a lot of private shows, and you have to have a nametag,” he said. “So I’m walking around as a middle-aged man with Ed on my chest. I looked at my wife and was like, ‘This don’t feel good.’ We laughed, and she said,
‘Everybody calls you E anyway.’ My son’s middle name is E, my dad is known as Big E. So it’s not really a change. If you want to call me Ed, call me Ed. But it was more a bit silly — let’s let everybody in on the joke.”
Collective Soul & Gin Blossoms
When: Saturday, June 8, 8 p.m.
Where: Casino Ballroom, 169 Ocean Blvd., Hampton Beach
Tickets: $52 at casinoballroom.com (18+)
— Michael Witthaus