June 25, 2019 Interview – Will Turpin of Collective Soul Talks New Music + More
Putting things into perspective, 25 years is a quarter of a century, and boiling it down even more, that is a really long time. A span where lives are formed, children are born, along with careers are started and ended, the Alternative Rock band Collective Soul seem to just keep moving along. Celebrating the extremely special and unique accomplishment of not only being an active Rock-n-Roll band for 25 years, but also an extremely successful one, the guys returned on Friday, June 21st with their new album, Blood.
Their tenth overall studio album, they are also set to embark on more touring throughout the summer, bringing the silver anniversary celebration to the masses. Anxious to rock and roll, Will Turpin caught up with Cryptic Rock to chat in-depth about the years gone by with Collective Soul, the work behind Blood, plus a whole lot more.
Cryptic Rock – Last we spoke, in 2017, Collective Soul had released a new live record. Since then, Collective Soul continues to tour a lot, you released a solo album last year, and you are set to release a new album. What have the last couple of years been like for you and the band?
Will Turpin – Basically me, Dean, and Ed have known each other our whole lives. Twenty-five years later, after seeing our dreams come true, musically and creatively, we’re on top of our game. We still get that magical feeling you get when you create something that you think is special. The adrenaline is still flowing on stage and everything feels really good to us right now. I have to admit we’re extremely proud of the work we did in the studio with the new record.
Cryptic Rock – You mention twenty-five years together as a band, and that is really a long time. It’s been twenty-five years of success: the band has sold millions of records, you have had countless hits, and have toured the world over. When you stop for a second and look back on all of it, what is it like?
Will Turpin – By the time you do twenty-five years, you have children, you get married, and get up there in age – I’m 47 years old now. It’s really a tough question. It feels like, what a gift, I’m glad we took it serious, I’m glad we put our nose to the grind and did the work. Twenty-five years later I’m just trying to figure out how to make my life work so I can still Rock-n-Roll, pay the bills, and get out there and make some music for people.
For me, music is still the last form of unknown magic; everything else has the vale that has been lifted off of it. Music has healing powers: it can make you feel a certain way, sometimes you can forget about everything going on and you can just enjoy life. Sometimes it can bring back a memory that might be sad, but there is something magical about the frequencies you can put in the air and send to someone else’s eardrums. That is where I’m at. It’s one of those things where we are trying to make the best art possible and affect people in a positive way.
Cryptic Rock –You have done that over the duration of the band’s existence. Something that has always stood out about Collective Soul is the distinctive sound. If you want to box it in, you guys are an Alternative Rock band, but a very different band which has done things differently from album to album.
Will Turpin – I would say that is clearly one of our strengths: nobody really sounds like us. The other side of that is we try to be creative, we try to do stuff differently and experiment with things. The honest truth is it is just who we are as artists and musicians; it comes out sounding like us, not like anybody else. I would say production technique and songwriting skills are a big part of it. We are all kind of on the same page production wise and we all have major production input. It’s more about being on the same page with the end in sight than it is making conscience decisions why you’re building something to sound different; it’s more just us doing our thing and trying to take each song to the finish line. It comes out sounding like Collective Soul and it doesn’t sound like anybody else.
Cryptic Rock – And has continued to work well! Speaking of new music, the band is set to release your new album Blood on June 21st. This album had been in-the-works for a while.
Will Turpin – Yeah, we had almost twenty songs recorded, but we went back in the studio in maybe February or March of 2018 and we did two weeks straight on a lake in New Jersey. It was really great to get away and kind of isolate ourselves. We redid one song and recorded some other new songs.
Cryptic Rock – The positive thing is that you test drove some of these songs live throughout your summer touring in 2018. What has been the fans’ reaction to the new music?
Will Turpin – “Right as Rain” we’ve played so much it seems half the fans already know it. There was a live version of it on the live record, but the studio version is the one you need to hear. It has a little bit of an homage to Tom Petty. Of American singer-songwriters, Tom Petty is probably number one; I didn’t know how much I would be missing him.
Cryptic Rock – It is a great track and it will go along with nine other new tracks for a full LP of ten songs. What was the writing and recording process like for these new songs?
Will Turpin – We wrapped up the recording in New Jersey at a studio called The Barber Shop on Lake Hopatcong. We rented a home on the lake, we all lived there – it had a golf simulation machine and a foosball table. We really got to vibe out together. That’s the thing: it’s one thing to play notes in rhythm, but it’s another to come together mentally on the direction and feel of what you’re going for. We totally came together, you can feel it. We know it in the studio when we are really coming together; it’s outside of our heads and hands, so to speak. We let it be its own thing and breath its own life. That’s our thing to do: to get out of our heads and hands about the technical side of recording music, and try to get into the exterior strength of what music really is.
Cryptic Rock – It will be great to hear Blood once it is released. As we spoke, Collective Soul has been together for twenty-five years, but you have been friends for even longer. At this point, do you know what each other’s next move is?
Will Turpin – Absolutely. Like I said, we try to get out of the technical side and try to tap into whatever each other’s next move is. I say this a lot of a musician, but if you can use your ears as a musician more than you can use your hands or your head, then your’e doing something good.
Cryptic Rock – That is a good outlook. You are busy touring again this year, about eighty or so shows throughout the year. What’s it like being on the road as much as you are?
Will Turpin – It’s like a gift to have so many people that want to give you love and energy, and you want to give it back to them. Also, this is my livelihood: I have made a life out of being a touring musician. I don’t take it lightly and I appreciate the hell out of it.
Cryptic Rock – It is something unique and special. Is it a challenge being away from your family and home?
Will Turpin – It’s no different than anybody else that has to travel for a living; it’s just part of life. I know a buddy who works on an oil rig and two weeks out of every month he’s gone on the oil rig; he has to do that twelve months out of the year. When I come home, sometimes I’m looking at weeks off to spend quality time with my family. It’s not 9 to 5, but I will also say this about what I do: if you work 9 to 5 and you come home tired everyday to your kids, you would be hard-pressed over a year to have more quality time with your kids than I will get with my kids over a year – even though during the summer I might not see them a whole lot. How quality is it when you have to come home, eat dinner, and go to bed?
Cryptic Rock – That is a very good point you raise. Amidst the work with Collective Soul, you put out a solo record in 2018 called Serengeti Drivers. A really good record, what was it like putting it together?
Will Turpin – I sit behind the piano for a lot of my songs and that’s how they start. I’ve co-written some tunes that I started behind the piano and used one of them with Ed – he even co-wrote a couple of tunes with me on my first record, The Lighthouse (2011). I feel like my songs are not Collective Soul tunes, and I don’t want to approach them that way. If I was writing these songs and I thought they were mediocre and nobody would really care about them, I wouldn’t release them. I write these songs and they feel right. I feel like people want me to release this stuff, so it’s not about trying to start a solo career; it’s just about being able to fill this other artistic side of me. Every now and then I go out and play some solo shows, but ain’t nothing going to take the place of Collective Soul. I’m proud of my songs and I appreciate the kind words. It’s been great to hear what people say about my style. I’m sure some people think it sucks, but most people are really surprised.
Cryptic Rock – It is a really quality album. It has strong Pop sensibility, but also everything from Prog Rock to Bluegrass.
Will Turpin – Right, there you go! That’s me in a nutshell. (Laughs) With my solo stuff I don’t have to focus on a certain genre, I can do whatever feels right at the time. I don’t have to worry about trying to tag a certain market or be a certain way.
Cryptic Rock – Hopefully you will get to do more of that. Last question, has there been any new Horror or Sci-Fi related films you have enjoyed?
Will Turpin – I like Stranger Things. Here is a good little tidbit about Stranger Things, that Netflix studio they use, that is the old high school where the original Collective Soul went to high school. The office they use in Stranger Things for the school looks exactly the same from 30 years ago when I was in high school there.