Ed Roland doesn’t hesitate to say the current version of Collective Soul is the best version of the long-running band. To the founding singer-guitarist, the arrival of drummer Johnny Rabb in 2012 and guitarist Jesse Triplett two years later reinvigorated Collective Soul and has made his job much easier.
“I don’t have to worry about anything other than writing songs and making sure I sing them well because I know for a fact Jesse’s going to do his part, Johnny’s going to do his part, Dean’s going to do his part, Will’s going to do his part and I don’t have to stretch myself so thin,” Roland said, mentioning the other two original members of Collective Soul, his brother, guitarist Dean Roland and bassist Will Turpin.
“I think it’s just taken so much pressure off of me to really just focus (on songwriting),” he continued. “And they’re so cool about when I present the songs to them. They want to know what the lyrics are about. They make suggestions and things like that. It’s a very comforting situation to be in.”
And Roland has written quite a few songs lately.
In August 2022, Collective Soul released its latest album, “Vibrating,” plus two additional studio albums are finished and ready for release whenever the time is right. The band also plans to record yet another album early this year. They’re also out on the road and have a couple of local stops, including The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage on Jan. 13 and City National Grove of Anaheim on Jan. 26.
The guys have some special treats in mind for these shows, too.
“What we decided on this one was to kind of dig back in the catalog a little bit,” Roland said. “You’ve (also) got to play the songs that that introduced you to the fans. They want to hear them. They deserve to hear them. And we’re blessed to be able to play (them). But at the same time, we’re trying to reach back a little bit, play a couple, two or three (older songs) a night, and of course, sneak in a couple of new songs off of ‘Vibrating.’”
This recent prolific period with the band marks quite the resurgence from where Collective Soul was at about a dozen years ago. Hailing from Stockbridge, Georgia, the group came on the music scene with a bang with the 1993 debut album “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.” With the hit single “Shine,” that album went double platinum.
Collective Soul’s second album, a self-titled effort, was even more popular, going triple platinum and generating five hit singles, including the chart-topping “December,” “Where the River Flows” and “The World I Know.” The band finished the decade with two more successful albums, “Disciplined Breakdown” and “Dosage.”
But as the new century arrived, Collective Soul’s fortunes began to gradually wane, as four more studio albums saw diminishing returns. The band also went through some personnel changes, cycling through a pair of drummers before Rabb joined. Between 2010 and 2013 the band members each devoted most of their time to side projects before Triplett became the band’s third guitarist (following Ross Childress and Joel Kosche) in 2014.
“Yes, this is the band I wish I had had at the very beginning,” he added. “Nothing against the other players or anything like that, but this is just so smooth and everybody pushes each other in the right way. Nobody’s degrading. No one’s mean. It’s just let’s do the best we can do. It’s amazing, it really is, and it fires me up and makes me try to be an even better songwriter.”
The first album with the revamped lineup, 2015’s “See What You Started by Continuing,” was hailed as one of Collective Soul’s finest efforts, and then came another stellar effort, the rocking 2019 release, “Blood.”
“Vibrating” was actually recorded shortly before “Blood.” It’s a consistently strong effort that mixes several crisp and catchy tunes (“Cut The Cord,” “Reason” and “All Our Pieces”) with more textured material, such as the punchy mid-tempo “Rule #1,” which is accented by some silky strings; the poppy “Where Do I Go,” which blends horns, fluttering organ and big backing vocals; and the ballad “Back Again,” which might remind some of a softer counterpart to “Shine.”
A tour was planned for 2020, but then the pandemic hit. So Roland returned home, and as a musician who likes to stay busy, he went to work writing, writing and writing some more.
The next album, tentatively due for release later this year, figures to bring a more relaxed and a bit folkier touch to Collective Soul’s usual punchy rock sound.
“The working title is called ‘Open,’” Roland said. “Tom Petty released his 20th anniversary edition of (his album) ‘Wildflowers’ (and) for some reason, we just started digging in, maybe too deep into that. So we kind of went into that vibe, more laid back, melodic.”
“Open” figures to be something of a bridge to the third completed album, which is tentatively titled “Pure.”
“It’s piano and orchestration based,” Roland said of of that album. “It’s 10 songs. “We’ve got (some) instrumentals, which we’ve never done before, either.
“It’s different,” he continued. “I think that’s cool because it’s still melodic. You can still tell it’s Collective Soul. It’s a stretch, but we’re ready to do that.”
When: 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13
Where: The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa, 32-250 Bob Hope Drive, Rancho Mirage
Tickets: $35-$75 at etix.com.
Also: 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26 at City National Grove of Anaheim, 2200 East Katella Ave., Anaheim. $35-$59.50 at Ticketmaster.com.