November 22, 2017 Interview – Will Turpin of Collective Soul
When thinking of one of the most prolific Rock bands from the 1990s era, chances are Pearl Jam, Radiohead, and Alice in Chains are just a few that come to mind, but how about Collective Soul? With seven #1 hits, selling over 15 million records worldwide, and still going strong 25 years later, Collective Soul certainly belong in the conversation.
Distinctively their own, Collective Soul has gifted the Rock world a plethora of songs from various styles, whether it be their 1994 single “Shine,” 1999’s hard rocker “Heavy,” or 2005’s mellow “How Do You Love.” Through it all, Collective Soul continues to sell shows out and garner a strong fanbase which simply cannot get enough. Now set to release their new live album on December 8, 2017, Bassist Will Turpin sits down to reflect on the blessing of the past 25 years of Collective Soul, the joy of performing live, their plans for a new album in 2018, plus much more.
CrypticRock.com – Collective Soul has been one of the most consistent Rock bands of the past two decades, putting out nine successful studio albums, touring the world, and compiling a list of hits. First, tell us, what has this ride been like for you and the band?
Will Turpin – We have a book coming out next year (laughs). You know, it is cool, it is a small town story. My earliest memory of Ed and Dean was when their father was the choir director at the church. My father owned a recording studio in a very small town; 20 miles south of Atlanta, but a very small town. We went from there to becoming great friends to getting see the world together through the magic of music. It has been crazy, a blessing, and we don’t take it lightly. As evident with this latest live record, we get on stage and try to do something, we still feel like it is special to us. Here we are 24 years after we got signed to Atlantic Records.
CrypticRock.com – It has been a great run. Longevity is not an easy thing to attain, but Collective Soul has done just that. Many of the bands which began during the 1990s have since dissolved. That said, what do you think has been the key for Collective Soul’s chemistry?
Will Turpin – I think history is important. We genuinely love each other. Myself, Ed, and Dean, there is nobody that knows the other person better than each other, that is important. I go to the physiology that we had in the beginning where we focus on the song and what that means when you combine lyric and melody. We try to focus on making each song its own strong thing that can stand the test of the time.
Obviously Ed’s songwriting is an amazing part of that. He sits down and can just come up with the perfect flowing vocal. We always try and focus on lifting that up. If we knew the exact recipe we would have done even more (laughs). We probably would have copyrighted the game plan. It is hard to quantify exactly what makes that happen, but somehow we have done it a few times. As I said, as evident by the live record, we continue to put a lot of our energy and focus into the strength of the songs.
CrypticRock.com – The band has been touring heavily in recent years and, in 2015, released See What You Started by Continuing. Now you are set to release a new live album on December 8th. What inspired the band to put together a new live record?
Will Turpin – Well, I really feel like we could have done more live records over the years. There are certain things you hear over and over, you start to think maybe there is something there. We hear a lot that our live show, musically, is extremely strong. We felt, “Let’s document one and take the time to do some mixes on it.” In the past, we have recorded and documented our shows, but we just use them for our own pleasure to listen back and maybe work on things. We never really wanted to create a 5 man live record. Now twenty years later, we said, “Well I think it is about time.” We recorded these songs over a 15 month period and over that time chose what we thought were some strong shows and put this live record together.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool. The band’s 2006 live album was Home: A Live Concert Recording with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra. This one is a little different. Obviously a live performance is a live performance, but do you have the idea in the back of your mind that it is being recorded, and how does that affect you?
Will Turpin – There are all kind of thoughts that go through your mind when you are on stage. Your brain is always firing neurons off – I might be thinking about something someone is doing stupid in the audience. I also might be thinking dang that was an insane fill John just played going to the chorus, that is going to be great on the record.
It is not like a predetermined thought of I better play great because this is going to be documented for eternity. I definitely try and not get into that headspace and if I do, it is like woah, why am I even thinking about that? We understand our approach live and that you have to open yourself up instead of thinking about something. You have to open yourself up to everything going on around you and hope to live the energy up through music and feel.
CrypticRock.com – Yes, and the band does put on a really great live show. One thing that has certainly stood out about Collective Soul is the unique style the band brings. It is Rock-n-Roll, yet there is something very distinctive about the tone of the instruments. You know when it is a Collective Soul song. What has honing the band’s sound been like?
Will Turpin – That is definitely a combination of the parts and a strength of Collective Soul’s. I didn’t realize it early on, but after a number of years, I realized no one really sounds like us at all. That had to be a part of our success. It is still a creative process every time we get in the studio. Again, I think part of it is natural because that is who we are and what we like to do. Some of it is particular influences from everybody. Ed is heavily influenced by a lot of the ’80 bands. We are all influenced by The Beatles and Elton John. Then, somehow, we do our thing and it sounds the way it sounds. It is kind of like putting it in a mixer, mix it all up, and somehow you get a Collective Soul sound.
CrypticRock.com – Well the band certainly has succeeded in creating that unique sound of their own. The band is wrapping up a few more live shows before the end of 2017. What is in sort for 2018?
Will Turpin – In 2018 we have another studio record to be released, which is already completed. We should be releasing that hopefully in May. There will be the new studio record and we will tour extensively again. In 2019 we are going to celebrate 25 years and we should have a number of different things coming up. We are kind of looking at a two year run.
CrypticRock.com – Excellent! What can fans expect from the forthcoming 2018 record?
Will Turpin – We have gotten back into vinyl and the approach is sort of A side and B side. One side is riff, high energy Rock-n-Roll songs. The other side has “The World I Know,” string arrangements, and lush moving laid back tunes. We kind of approached it that way. There will obviously be a version on vinyl. We kind of miss that in today’s music where people release a single here or a couple of songs there. We kind of like the album concept, that was one theme we were thinking about when we recorded it.
CrypticRock.com – Very cool, and the album format is extremely important and vital in Rock-n-Roll. A lot has changed in music since the band began back in the 1992. What have been some of the boldest changes you have experiences?
Will Turpin – Yea, we have seen the evolution right? They made cassettes of our first two or three records, albums I should say. I like to say albums because the word album kind of references a collection of things over a certain section of time. We have seen the monster labels shocked by the internet. We have seen streaming music and sales are small percentage of what they used to be. Although royalties for stream music is starting to turn around, you can write a book on what we have seen in the music industry in the last 20 something years. You can’t forget we were one of the first bands to go away from the big, major label model, releasing an album on our own label which was successful. We have watched this whole thing evolve immensely.
CrypticRock.com – You certainly have. It a testament to Collective Soul that you have survived it all because a lot of bands have not. My last question is pertaining to films. CrypticRock.com covers music and Horror/Sci-Fi films. If you have seen any new Horror/Sci-Fi related films lately, what were some of your favorite?
Will Turpin – Definitely Sci-Fi. There is Game of Thrones and Star Wars of course. I was born in 1971, so Stars Wars is a big thing for me and I can’t wait for the new one. Horror, I love Stephen King and I took my kids to see It. I am a fan of all those genres. I went back to watch the original It with my kids too because they were so into it. I hadn’t seen it in a long time.