If you were a ‘90s kid like me, Collective Soul’s 1995 self-titled debut came to you as naturally as breathing or making sure that all of your Yikes! pencils were sharpened before the school day began. Songs such as “Gel,” “The World I Know,” “December,” and “Where the River Flows” provided an evergreen soundtrack to every summer shindig your parents hosted from there on out, and, when you close your eyes, you can still remember unleashing your inner Johnny Cochran every time you had to convince them that you were mature enough to attend said shindig.
While the ubiquity of the band’s catalog has never diminished, don’t go relegating them to nostalgia status just yet. Lead vocalist/principal songwriter Ed Roland has the 2016 version of Collective Soul storming the festival circuit with veteran poise and a lupine hunger befitting a group that feels as if it still has something left to prove. Their latest album, “See What You Started by Continuing,” is a decisive second wind that propels the music forward while never abandoning the catchiness and melodic sophistication that brought the classic material to life.
Roland was gracious enough to speak with me prior to the band’s appearance at the Rock ‘N Derby in Schaghticoke, NY last month, but, if you weren’t able to make it to that show, Collective Soul will be supporting Buffalo’s own Goo Goo Dolls on Aug. 20 at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center.
MNOD: Now that the current lineup has been playing together for a while, how would you compare it to the classic incarnation of the band?
Ed Roland: I think it’s the best it’s ever been and we’re having a blast out here on the road. The feeling I get when we play couldn’t be better.
MNOD: “See What You Started by Continuing” was a really well-received return to form for the band. What type of vibe were you going for?
ER: Well, we went back in the same room together and just made being a band fun again. We didn’t care if we made mistakes along the way, because that’s a natural part of the process and what makes us human. We’re older now, but definitely not lazy in the studio when it comes to coming up with pieces that are fun and creative. As I said before, I think this is the best version of the band and playing whole pieces together in the studio is what made this record sound like the classic Collective Soul material. We wanted everything to be consistent.
MNOD: Does it ever bother you that new releases from classic bands don’t always get the radio support they deserve?
ER: Of course it does. We would love to sell a million records every time out, but it’s really out of our hands. The industry has changed and things that used to be cornerstones of a band’s development are no longer viable today. We don’t concern ourselves too much with radio support, because we believe in the new music and continue to bring it on stage. Fans have responded to the new record in an unbelievably excited fashion and we’ve been able to insert it into the set in a way that flows really well. It’s a great feeling when you look out and see everyone singing along with us.
MNOD: I know that Buffalo stations are more than happy to play “Shine” and “The World I Know” quite often, but nothing from the last record ever made it on the air here.
ER: That’s another thing we don’t allow to affect us too much, because, while we always play those songs live, we consider our new material to be on the same level as the old stuff. We were thankful that the 90s albums became hits, but the story of this band certainly didn’t stop there.
MNOD: The band is on quite a few festivals this summer. How does the shorter set time impact what songs make it into the show?
ER: We have nine studio albums and a lot of songs to choose from, so we try to put together a great show every time out. We hit the lottery with the old songs and they’re the reason we’re still out here, but you always want to show off your newborn. We mix it up pretty well.
MNOD: You guys just filmed a concert documentary at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta last week. How did that come about?
ER: We wanted to tell the complete story of the band. People forget that “Shine” came out before we were even signed to a label, so we felt that people needed to know where we came from and why we do what we do. We don’t have an exact date for when the film will be available yet, but it will most likely coincide with the release of our next album.
MNOD: You also have a tour with Buffalo’s own Goo Goo Dolls set for the summer.
ER: Yes, that should be a really cool tour. We’ve known Johnny and Robby for a while and we’re really appreciative of everything they’ve done for us. We’re looking forward to it.
MNOD: What can fans expect from the new music?
ER: Well, the first half of the record is done, but we’re taking a month off before we finish up the rest of it. It’s going to have a real old-school feel to it, because we’re working in two stages. The first half will be more rock oriented and the second half will focus more on complex orchestrations.
Collective Soul will be at Darien Lake Performing Arts Center with Goo Goo Dolls and Tribe Society on Aug. 20.
See www.collectivesoul.com or www.livenation.com for details.