Where were you in '99?
If you were a news junkie, you watched Texas governor George W. Bush emerge as the front-runner for President in a crowded field of Republican hopefuls. If you subscribed to HBO, you were probably hooked to a new series called The Sopranos. If movies were your thing, most likely you were mesmerized by the special effects in The Matrix.
And if you were listening to the radio, there was no escaping Collective Soul's Dosage.
The 1999 album featured two monster hits ("Heavy" and "Run"), pushed the band to new creative heights and firmly established them as the most radio friendly band of the decade.
The super group charted an astounding seven No. 1 hits and 19 Top 40 singles in a seven-year period from 1994 to 2001. They received more airtime on the radio than any other band of its era including Nirvana, Pearl Jam, R.E.M. and Oasis.
Their hook-laden guitar anthems and powerfully melodic songs propelled them to international stardom, multi-platinum status and put their hometown of Stockbridge, Georgia, on the map.
Billed as “An Evening with Collective Soul”, the quintet will return to Tempe’s Marquee Theatre on Wednesday, June 6, where they will perform Dosage in its entirety.
Along with Dosage, fans will hear additional tunes from their catalog such as “Shine,” “December,” “The World I Know,” “Where The River Flows,” “Hollywood” as well as new song or two from its upcoming studio album.
The lineup features Ed Roland on lead vocals, Dean Roland on rhythm guitar, Joel Kosche on lead guitar, Will Turpin on bass guitar and newcomer Johnny Rabb on drums.
In an exclusive and extended interview with The Buzz, Collective Soul co-founder Will Turpin discusses the group’s landmark album, how a recent tween flick regenerated the band and celebrating two decades of making music.
Q: So how did the idea come about to perform Dosage in its entirety?
Turpin: The group decided in January that we needed to go out on tour and say hello to our fans again. We had been doing the “Weekend Warrior” gigs but haven’t been on an official tour since 2009. We are a little overcritical of ourselves at times and so we always want to come off as sounding fresh. This time around we don’t have a new record to support so we knew we needed a fresh approach. We’ve always loved it when other bands have played an entire album in concert from beginning to end, so that’s what we decided to do. From there, the conversation went to “Which one do we do?” We were all pretty much on the same page and we narrowed it down to our second album (Collective Soul), the blue record, or Dosage. We mulled it over for a couple of weeks and decided on Dosage.
Q: It’s been a dozen years since Dosage was released. How do you feel about the work today?
Turpin: It was a very special moment in time for Collective Soul. Each album is memorable in its own way, but on Dosage, we really wanted to take our time. The feeling was, “Let’s enjoy this moment, let’s enjoy each other and let’s record a great record.” We usually spent on average about four weeks on each of our records, but on Dosage we spent about three to four months in Miami. We all rented homes on the beach and at times they resembled rock and roll frat houses. It was a magical time and we were riding a wave of success that a lot of bands never even get a chance to see. Musically and personally, we really bonded and came together for that album.
Q: And just for clarification, I’ve always heard it was a six-month period. You’re saying it was three to four months?
Turpin: The entire production was about six months, but the actual recording in Miami was about four months. We finished at Tree Sound Studio in Atlanta. I remember putting the final touches on “Tremble For My Beloved” in Ed’s basement alone and having to push the record button myself.
Q: Dosage was recorded at the legendary Criteria Recording Studios, which has produced some great records from Bob Dylan, the Eagles, Fleetwood Mac, the Bee Gees, David Bowie, James Brown, Derek and the Dominoes and Bob Marley. Was that somewhat intimidating for the band?
Turpin: We definitely noticed all the gold records on the wall and knew its history when we entered the place. The funny thing is we acted like a bunch of overgrown kids sometimes. The studio had a foosball table and in the same room there were recording masters on the wall. We got pretty animated when it came to competition. When someone lost a game, there were some heated arguments and flailing of the arms. I’d have to say, “Hold on now, before you do anything crazy that’s a James Brown master behind your head” (laughs). The stuff on those walls belonged in a vault or museum.
Q: What role did hit-making producer Anthony J. Resta have in the shaping of Dosage?
Turpin: His style is all over that record. For some reason the word “soundscaping” comes to mind. He’d create these incredible handcrafted and atmospheric keyboard sounds for the songs. For example, he created the introduction to “Tremble For My Beloved”. His forte was programming, building and manipulating sounds. He has an incredible ear for music and sounds, and in hindsight, we’ve done some of our best work with him.
Q: Dosage produced two mega-hits (“Heavy” and “Run”) but almost a decade later, “Tremble For My Beloved”, the album’s opening number, was featured on the Twilight soundtrack. What impact did that have on the band?
Turpin: It gave us a huge shot in the arm. Soundtracks have a way of perpetuating the life of the song and when you’re involved with something as popular as Twilight, it opens up a lot of new territory. Stephenie Meyer, who is the author of the Twilight books, is a big fan of Collective Soul and she handpicked every song on the entire first soundtrack. We’ve been fortunate in our career to have those moments. “Run” was on the Varsity Blues soundtrack and “She Said” was on the Scream 2 soundtrack. Soundtracks widen your exposure to people who might not normally pay attention to your music. I can look back on my youth and the soundtrack for Singles played a very big role in my life. It was just as popular as any Alice in Chains or Pearl Jam record and exposed me to a lot of great music. Twilight has exposed us to a new generation of fans. I remember seeing a lot of young kids one of our shows after the movie came out and they knew “Hollywood” and “Tremble For My Beloved”. Then when we’d play something older like “December” or “Shine” you could almost read their lips: “I didn’t know they played that song?” It was almost verbatim every night there for a while. It’s great. We’ve been around for almost two decades but with certain generations, there are dots that need to be connected and those soundtracks are invaluable.
Q: Dosage was a technological marvel in its day. Is it hard to re-create the album in a live setting?
Turpin: There are a few songs where you might notice we’ve done something different than the record. We look at them as songs, not model airplanes whereas if you don’t glue them together in the right way they don’t fit. As a musician and artist, I take major pride in the fact that we can perform multiple songs in many different ways and still feel like the crowd is going to enjoy and get off on it as much as they would the recorded version. Johnny (Rabb) is very adept with the digital world. He’s able to play the songs in real time with some pads that are on the side. A lot of bands use backing tracks when they play live and we might have some samples, but Johnny’s playing them in real time.
Q: “She Said”, which you perform on this tour, was the last song on Dosage and originally presented as a “hidden track.” Why hide one of the best songs Collective Soul ever recorded?
Turpin: (laughs) It was really included a bonus track but the thought was, “If you fall asleep by the end of the album ‘She Said’ will definitely wake you up!” That was a flavor of the day idea back then – include a bonus track at the end of the CD that no one knows is there. For us, there was a reason and the reason was it was on the Scream 2 soundtrack, which came out before Dosage, but it fit in with the songs on Dosage.
Q: I’ve always felt that “She Said” was the best song that Ed has ever written because it was done almost from a journalistic point of view. I'm glad it ended up on Seven Year Itch. How do you feel about the song today?
Turpin: Saying any one song of ours is the best is always tough for me, but that said, lyrically “She Said” is very special. I’ve always liked it and it’s definitely one of Ed’s best.
Q: “Almost You”, a great rocker with the Collective Soul signature sound, was another hidden track from the Dosage era.
Turpin: We recorded 18 songs for Dosage and not all of them were used. We’re hoping the unreleased songs will eventually see the light of day.
Q: Johnny Rabb, billed as “The World’s Fastest Drummer”, is now handling the sticks for the group. What’s it like playing with him?
Turpin: “The World’s Fastest Drummer” – we’ve gotta say that on stage! (laughs) You’re right, he was once listed by Guinness as the world’s fastest drummer with 1,000 beats in one minute. Personality wise he has been great; we’re having lots of laughs. He’s a pro and wants to do what’s best for Collective Soul, not what’s best for Johnny Raab. His drumming is extremely musical and I love working with him. I went to music school and practically grew up there. Johnny attended the Berklee College of Music, so we speak the same language. When we converse, we’re able to get to the point quickly. He’s a real breath of fresh air and it’s great playing with him.
Q: You’re coming back to Tempe’s Marquee Theatre where you’ve played many times before. Does the Phoenix area hold any special memories for you?
Turpin: We’ve always had great shows in Phoenix; great crowds. Always full if not sold out shows in the area. On a personal level, I like Phoenix because of the great biking trails there. I like to ride my bike on the road because I get to see and feel the area on a much more personal basis. I love the vibe of the desert.
Q: Collective Soul will embark on its 20th anniversary next year. What’s it like to play with the same group of people for almost two decades?
Turpin: When we’re back at home and not on the road, we’re able to do our solo projects, play with different people and keep things fresh. But to answer your question, it’s been a real gift to be in Collective Soul. I’m a very emotional guy and there are times when I’m on stage and I can tell when another member is having a moment. I don’t know if it’s a flashback or if that person is wondering how fortunate they are or they’re just getting into the music. It’s been an awesome ride to be able to create music with people I’m so close to.
Q: For people who have never been to one of your shows, what can they expect?
Turpin: The number one priority is for everyone to have a good time. On this tour, we’re approaching it as performance art. I think we’ve always been an exceptional live band but we’re trying to take it musically to another level. The first half of the show where we perform Dosage is going to be more of a performance art piece and then the second half is a more traditional rock concert. We’re going to take the audience and ourselves to a very special moment in time.
Q: What’s next for the group? I’ve heard several things: a live album, a new studio album and a boxed set for the 20th anniversary. Which can you confirm is true?
Turpin: Do you wanna hear my most positive answer? I hope it’s all of those things. It’s always hard to tell what we’re going to do but I would like to see us celebrate the 20th anniversary with a boxed set, a book, a new CD, we’re working on new songs right now. I want to celebrate our legacy and hit the marketplace with everything we’ve got. We’ve got two CDs worth of songs from the ‘90s that no one has heard. I’d like to see it all come out.
Collective Soul will appear at The Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Wednesday, June 6. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $28 in advance and $29 at the door. To purchase tickets visit www.luckymanonline.com
For updates on Collective Soul or the Dosage tour, visit www.collectivesoul.com.