Guitar-laden Collective Soul is not a Southern rock band

August 19, 1999|By J.D. Considine | J.D. Considine,Sun Pop Music Critic

Ed Roland doesn't have much patience for people who only look before they leap to conclusions about Collective Soul.

Because his band hails from Stockbridge, Ga., and boasts not one, not two, but three guitar players, many people in the music press have therefore deduced that Collective Soul is a Southern rock band. Therefore, the music Collective Soul plays is very much in the mold of such multi-guitar outfits as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band.

Guess again, says Roland.

"I think a lot of those people weren't listening to the records," says the singer and guitarist, over the phone from a tour stop in New York City. "I mean, we used to get that all the time, and I was like: 'You know what? Not that we sound like them, but Radiohead has three guitar players.'

"As for our influences -- there's nothing wrong with Southern rock. That was definitely part of our growing up. But our influences came more from British pop."

Indeed, the band's debt to Brit-pop ought to be obvious to anyone who has spent time with "Dosage," the band's current album. In place of the guitar-heavy approach that powered such early hits as "Shine" and "Precious Declaration," the songs on "Dosage" flesh out the Collective Soul sound with drum loops and keyboard fills, lending a slightly psychedelic edge to such singles as "Run" and the recent hit "Heavy."

Those tunefully ornate arrangements may seem like a bit of a departure for the band, but according to Roland, Collective Soul would have made records like that earlier, if only it'd had the time.

"When the other records were made, we came immediately off the road and recorded," he says. "The songs were written on the road, during sound checks, and we had X amount of days or weeks to do the record. Then the next tour started right up.

"This time, there was no plan. We had the luxury of time. The record was like, 'No, when you're done, you're done,' and that kinda gives you the opportunity to experiment a little, try things we didn't have time to do before."

Because songs such as "Heavy" were so lush and tuneful, Collective Soul began being played on pop radio stations, in addition to the mainstream and modern rock outlets that traditionally aired the band's music. That move toward the Top 40 came as a surprise to many in the music industry -- including the band itself.

"I mean, you want [airplay]," says Roland. "When you finish a record, you want everybody to play it. But it has become so weird in radio now. It's almost segregated -- one song can fit this format, and another one can fit that format, but they can't fit together. It's really strange.

"So you just do the song and hope that everybody would like to play it," says Roland, and laughs. "It worked out this time, for some reason. Why, I don't know."

Collective Soul

When: Tonight at 8, opening for the Cranberries

Where: Nissan Pavilion at Stone Ridge, Bristow, Va

Tickets: $35.25, $28.25 and $24.25 for pavilion seats; $18.25 lawn

Call: 410-481-7328 for tickets, 703-754-6400 for information

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