Seated comfortably at his recording studio, Real 2 Reel Studios in Georgia, Will Turpin, the steadfast bassist of Collective Soul, dives into an intimate conversation about the band’s illustrious 30-year journey, their creative philosophy, and the anticipation encircling their forthcoming concert on July 8, 2023 at Detroit Music Hall for the Performing Arts.
Born in Stockbridge, Georgia, Collective Soul erupted onto the rock scene with their breakout single “Shine” back in 1993. As Turpin, a founding member, reflects on their path from a local Georgian band to worldwide recognition, he articulates a sense of astonishment, “There are moments when you simply need to pinch yourself. The opportunities we’ve had, the sights we’ve seen, and the feats we’ve accomplished, all as friends from a small Georgia town – it’s extraordinary.”
Turning to the upcoming performance in Detroit, Turpin shares an enticing perspective about how the band views performing live, “Our journey over these 30 years has transformed us from a band of individuals playing instruments into something more profound, something we call a ‘celebration of life’. We extend an open invitation to all, hoping everyone will join in this celebration.”
As the 30th anniversary of their debut album “Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid” approaches, Turpin fondly recalls the band’s early days, “What I distinctly remember is our collective ambition to show people what more we had to offer. We didn’t merely want a successful record, we were aspiring for a fruitful career with several records deemed as masterpieces.”
Addressing the indelible impact of “Shine,” Turpin accredits the song for setting the band’s trajectory, “That was the one that initiated our journey. But for Collective Soul, every song and every step along the way has contributed to our path. We wanted to showcase the depth of our creative reservoir.”
Despite the milestone anniversary of their debut album, it hasn’t significantly influenced the setlist of their current tour. Turpin explains, “We undoubtedly love playing ‘Shine,’ but we have an extensive repertoire of songs that people would love to hear us perform. Unfortunately, we can’t accommodate all of them all the time. “It’s less about reliving the past and more about celebrating the journey”
As Turpin recounts the band’s odyssey, he recalls their initial release on an independent record label. He quickly dispels any notions that this early experience influenced the band’s recent decision to release their latest works, “Blood” and “Vibrating,” independently. Turpin explains the move as a response to the seismic shifts in the music industry.
“The industry’s been in a state of flux since we first signed in ’94,” Turpin says, “The landscape shifted radically. We’ve transitioned from cassettes to the digital realm and watched as record label giants diminished. Our current mode of operation involves partnerships, working with professionals already in the game, as opposed to employing a label.”
The band’s independent label, Fuzz Flex Records, stirs curiosity. Turpin attributes the quirky name to a playful term coined by lead singer Ed Roland. “Sugar Fuzz was a name we’ve toyed with,” Turpin shares, “It had been used for a custom guitar cabinet someone made for us. We frequently need new names for corporate purposes, and this one stuck.”
Discussing their latest album, “Vibrating,” Turpin acknowledges a renewed vigor, a kind of second wind for the band. He credits this to the contribution of newer members Johnny Rabb and Jesse Triplett. “Their energy has invigorated us,” Turpin admits, “Our creative process has been immensely enjoyable with Johnny on drums. They’ve been with us for a decade now and it’s been a remarkable journey.”
When asked to capture the essence of “Vibrating” in one word, Turpin settles on “emotion.” He insists, “All music essentially boils down to emotion.”
While Ed Roland may be the band’s primary songwriter, Turpin emphasizes the collective effort involved in shaping each song. “Every song carries a hint of everyone’s personality,” Turpin asserts, “We’ve all put our unique DNA into these songs, transforming them into Collective Soul pieces.”
The process of creating music has seen little change over the years. Turpin explains, “Ed comes up with an idea and we, as a band, find the appropriate feel and space to make it a Collective Soul song. We do this by being receptive and open-minded, letting the energy and emotion flow through us.”
Looking ahead, Collective Soul has ambitious plans. Turpin reveals that the band has already spent a month recording their new album in Palm Springs. The forthcoming year will not only feature their quintessential 30th-anniversary tour but also a documentary and the release of their new album.
In a fervent parting statement, Turpin promises, “Next year, you won’t be able to escape hearing the name Collective Soul. We’re going to be around a lot.”
With his thoughtful reflections, Turpin paints Collective Soul as a band that celebrates life as much as it crafts music. Their forthcoming Detroit show promises not only a rock concert but a commemoration of a musical journey spanning three decades, an affirmation of enduring friendships, and a celebration of the transformative power of music.
For more on Collective Soul, collectivesoul.com.