Monday, October 24, 2011

Q & A with Will Turpin on "The Lighthouse"

Q: How does The Lighthouse differ musically from Collective Soul?

WT: Well, all of the melodies and music came out of my head as opposed to Ed Roland's. Obviously Collective Soul works as a band when we make records and this is all me. I play piano, acoustic guitar, bass, vocals and singing harmonies. It's more from one person's brain rather than five who comprise a group called Collective Soul.

Q: Why did you title it The Lighthouse? Does it have any significance?

WT: It does. There's a track on the record called "Sailor" and that song is about the fact that you can't help people unless they want to be helped. "I can't save the sailor from the storm" is the lyric and when talking about a lighthouse, if you don't follow the lighthouse you can't necessarily be saved.

Q: What made you finally decide to do solo project outside of Collective Soul after 18 years?

WT: That's somewhat true; I have produced some stuff here and there, singer Michael Tolcher for one. Collective Soul has pretty much been a full-time job and we've stayed busy over the years, so there hasn't been much of a chance to go out and experiment on our own.

Q: It seems like this is the year that everyone in the group has a solo project going on - Joel Kosche has released Fight Years; Dean Roland partnered with Ryan Potesta on Magnets and Ghosts and Ed Roland is heading up The Sweet Tea Project. Was that a conscious decision the band made or something that just evolved?

WT: We pretty much sat down and decided we're going to take some time off from Collective Soul and recharge our batteries. We did it before in 2001 but this time it's a totally different set of circumstances. This time was a lot more thought out than our first break.

Q: Why an EP of five songs as opposed to say an entire album?

WT: I started off with 14 tunes and as I got into it, I realized how much I wanted to do. I simply didn't have as much time and resources as I wanted, so I picked fives tunes to represent a little bit about what's going on musically with myself and wanted to get it out as soon as possible. That's really the thought process behind it. The songs I chose were the ones that came together the easiest and the best in terms of representation.

Q: How long did it take to produce The Lighthouse?

WT: Eight months but some of the songs have been around for a few years. I know that "60 Seconds" and "Her Name" are at least three to five years old. Some of the songs and lyrics had been written but from the time I whittled the list from 14 to five songs, that process was about eight months.

Q: Let’s talk about the studio where you cut most of these songs – Real 2 Reel Studios – a studio your father founded and where acts like .38 Special and Wet Willie once recorded. It must be a second home for you?

WT: It felt very natural and my father raised a family on that studio. I've recorded there so often throughout the years, I'm now 40, and the last 18 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. I'm glad I did my first solo work at Real 2 Reel because of the comfort level and the crew helped the songs get to be where they needed to be. The room is just beautiful, amazing. When you're there you're hunkered inside and working. It's a very functional place that I just so happen to have a key.

Q: You’re known for your bass playing, but most of songs on The Lighthouse are piano-based. That's going to be a bit of a surprise to your fans.

WT: I started off on the piano and received lessons starting at eight and continued until I was 12. I was also a music major in percussion in college when I went to Florida State University and Georgia State University. I was playing percussion in many different ways between private lessons and hand drums with Jimmy Buffett cover bands to marimbas in symphonies. I was doing that when we got signed to Atlantic Records back in the early 1990s. Music is pretty much all I've ever done and it's always flowed through me. My friends say I can pick up any instrument and make it sound good, so I guess there's something to that.

Q: And that leads to my next question: is melody something you're born with or something you have to work at?

WT: That's sorta like the evolution question...which came first, the chicken or the egg? I think that might an intrinsic quality you're born with. I certainly believe there's an aptitude for it and perhaps it is something in the genes.

Q: Melody seems to flow naturally out of Collective Soul and you on this new EP.

WT: Right. It has always felt natural to me and I hope it feels that way to everybody else. And of course, the Beatles have always been a big influence on me when it comes to melody.

Q: Let’s talk about the five songs on the EP, starting with “60 Seconds.” Tell me what the song's about?

WT: That song is about making a small but very bad decision. The kind of decision that's crucial and yet not affecting the entirety of your life. Maybe more specifically when someone chooses to have random sex with someone they don't know (laughs).

Q: Going back to “Sailor”, it almost sounds as if you were describing a person who needed saving, perhaps a person with substance abuse problem?

WT: There's a tinge of that in the song. I have a very close friend, Shane Evans, our former drummer, and I saw some of that in him. It's about not being able to save someone even if you're showing them the way, they still have to come to that decision on their own.

Q: "My Star," is the real standout track in my opinion. The song is very emotional. Who is it about?

WT: That's about my wife, Donna. She's my star. We've been married 17 years and have three boys. The song is also about me. I'm the guy, who "couldn't be stopped, who shoulda been shot," all that stuff.

Q: "Her Name" is the second song you co-wrote with band mate Ed Roland ("Sailor" was the first). What was that experience like?

WT: They were just songs we wrote when hanging out together. The exception being the songs were my ideas, not Ed's and so he helped me flesh them out. "Her Name" is about someone who's always the center of attention. Everyone knows that someone who walks into a room or party and it becomes lively, thus "everyone knows her name." Then when they get home, they're just the opposite. They're quiet, maybe a little depressed and find it hard to deal with themselves. Joel Kosche plays classical guitar on that and gives it a real Spanish, Julio Iglesias vibe.

Q: You also called upon former Collective Soul drummer Ryan Hoyle to drum on the tracks. You obviously have a lot of musicians in your circle of friends, so why did you go with Ryan?

Q: Ryan's a very musical drummer and that's very hard to find. He's a perfectionist and he takes it to the most finite detail as far as how he approaches drums as an instrument. He's a great player and he's got a helluva studio. He's got every drum you can think of and his studio is like a toy store. Ryan can play it, engineer it, and got all the drums and microphones ready to go. I'd say the songs were about half-way done when Ryan got them and he's so smart he knew exactly where the direction of the songs were going. Some keeper vocals were on there and some he received with scratch vocals, it just depended on the song. But Ryan's drumming just enhanced whatever I did and gave it the full power it needed. The amazing thing was we didn't spend a whole lot of time talking about the arrangement of the song. He just played and he found the most important parts real quickly.

Q: "Sanity"?

WT: "Sanity" is more specifically about substance abuse or getting into any kind of rut and using something as a crutch. It's the most ambitious track on The Lighthouse and bridges the gap to the next batch of songs I'm working on. I wanted to give everyone a taste of where I'm heading. There's one song I'm working on that's pretty epic. In fact, the working title is "The Fall and Epic." I'm trying to find more resources and outlets for my music and continue to put out the songs.

Q: What did you learn about yourself after producing, distributing, starting your own label and now promoting The Lighthouse?

WT: It's kind of daunting when you invest and promote yourself as an artist, so that's the first thing I learned. It's a lot of work, but the experience has been rewarding. Luckily, the reaction has been really good. I've learned I want more for myself and I feel good about finishing the songs and I want to finish more.

Q: Does this mean we might see more Will Turpin songs show up on Collective Soul releases in the future?

WT: Possibly. I'd like that.

The Lighthouse is available for download on and in disc form through For more information, visit

No comments: