Having Fun with the Demons | In conversation with Collective Soul’s Will Turpin

Photo of Collective Soul by David Abbott. Left to right: Jesse Triplett (lead guitar/background vocals), Will Turpin (bass/background vocals), Ed Roland (vocals/guitar), Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), Johnny Rabb (drums/background vocals)

07.11.23, 7:00pm | Marion Cultural and Civic Center, 800 Tower Square Plaza, Marion, IL | All ages | $49.99 – $109.99

The nineties remain a nostalgic decade for those of us who are fortunate (and old) enough to remember them. Arcades in every mall, neon pink and green windbreakers, Seinfeld and The Simpsons. After ‘80s glam rock smoldered, a new generation of rock music traded in Grandma’s Aquanet hairspray for Grandpa’s old, torn corduroys—or better yet, some new JNCO jeans. Grunge and alternative rock took the reins and gave a voice to the angst-filled youth of the day. The last decade of the 20th century produced many one-hit wonders in an industry that was rapidly evolving and branching out into several sub-genres. However Collective Soul proved themselves resilient as a band as they consistently created beautiful melodies and adapted to the changing rock landscape for nearly thirty years.

The brothers Dean (guitar) and Ed Roland (guitar, lead vocals) teamed up with bassist Will Turpin in 1992 and these three have remained a constant from the band’s inception. The trio, along with Ross Childers (lead guitar) and Shane Evans (drums), released their first record Hints, Allegations & Things Left Unsaid in 1993 with independent label Rising Storm. Ed was near his wit’s end with the industry after struggling to find success in his earlier projects when a college radio station in Orlando took notice of the recently formed group’s talent. Following this break, with much the same vigor as viral videos and TikTok trends of today, the album became an overnight sensation in the region.

Capitalizing on their success, the band signed with major label Atlantic Records and, despite Hints being basically a demo album, the label re-released the album in 1994. Their track “Shine” hit #1 on mainstream rock charts as well as #4 on the Billboard Top 40. The following year, the band released a second, self-titled record that was described by front man Ed Roland as their true debut album. The record achieved RIAA triple platinum status and included three #1 mainstream rock hits “December,” “The World I Know,” and “Where the River Flows.” Many bands of the 1990s that achieved this level of success imploded on themselves, never to create another song worthy of the airwaves, often from drug overdoses, scandals, or turbulent relationships within the group. The opposite was true of Collective Soul, who were only getting started. The group ignited a music career that would keep alternative rock fans’ hearts warm with great music over three decades and eleven studio albums.

Collective Soul’s latest album, Vibrating (released last August on the band’s own Fuzze-Flex Records) is a testament to their vitality and passion for music. The record opens with an enthusiastic, quick tempo track, the single “Cut The Cord.” Front man Ed Roland has explained in a recent interview the song was written about his son turning eighteen and leaving the nest and the turbulence of parenthood. Also featured on the record is “All Our Pieces,” a song with a familiar Collective Soul vibe that could have achieved radio success over two decades ago on alternative rock radio as easily as it does today.

The Arts STL received an opportunity to chat with founding member and longtime bassist Will Turpin. Each individual member of the now five-piece band has several decades of experience in the industry and an unapologetic love for music. Turpin is no exception. Will is the son of recording studio legend Bill Turpin of Real 2 Reel Studios, established in 1976 Jonesboro, GA. Beginning piano lessons at eight years old, Will went on to study music in Florida State University as well as Georgia State University. Mastering bass and electric guitar as well as drums, Will has been a key component of the band since its inception when he was just eighteen years old. Will has also released a solo EP titled Lighthouse in 2013 as well as his first solo studio album Serengeti Drivers in 2018. We were grateful to catch up with Turpin and talk about the band, the shifts in the music industry over the years, his solo work, family, and the future of Collective Soul.

Photo of Collective Soul by John Fulton. Left to right: Johnny Rabb (drums/background vocals), Dean Roland (rhythm guitar), Ed Roland (vocals/guitar), Jesse Triplett (lead guitar/background vocals), Will Turpin (bass/background vocals)

The Arts STL: Hey Will, it’s great to grab a few moments while you’re out on tour. How’s the 2023 tour going for you guys?           

Will Turpin: It’s going good, man. It’s kind of one of those summers, we’re prepping for a big summer next year. We’re putting on a decent amount of shows, kind of cherry picking some festivals. Next will be more of a major city, “get on a roll and go across North America” thing. We’re just filling up the calendar now and getting ready for an even bigger tour next year.

Looking at the various venues you’re hitting this summer, I was surprised you guys are coming to my hometown of Marion, IL. We’re not a very big town and it isn’t a huge venue. With you guys filling up stadiums and festivals in the past, how do you guys like playing the smaller venues?

Yeah, it’s actually cool. We end up doing those because we’d rather stop at a secondary market like a Marion or play a smaller venue and hopefully we drop a little seed there with the smaller markets, then we come back next year to the big amphitheaters and major cities. By then hopefully some of those seeds have grown and [we] sell more tickets. Ticket sales are great right now, we are fortunate band with some great fans.

The new album Vibrating came out in August of last year. I recently got to sit down and check it out myself. I feel like it’s really upbeat, often with a quick tempo and great energy even thirty years later. How has the album been received thus far?

It’s been received super-well, we have a single that’s still playing right now. We released “Cut the Cord,” the opening rock track, [as a single]. It did really well and is still being played. It’s been thirty years for Collective Soul, and we still get together and create. It’s still got that little magic in it.

You guys obviously have a deep love for music. Here you’re already talking about next year’s tour and you’re not even halfway through this one. How’s the vibe on the bus? Or should I call it a rolling studio after looking in on your Instagram and seeing Ed’s writing on the go? Everybody feeling good?

Yeah, everyone’s good, everyone’s chill. We’re just out here knocking them down one by one. It’s been a little bit of a patchwork summer, but yeah, we’re just knocking them down, doing our thing, and planning ahead for next year.

I looked ahead and saw you’re already playing at the Legends of Rock cruise in February. I’m sure you guys have played a cruise a time or two in your time, how do you guys like that?

Yeah, The Legends of Rock cruise going on with Sammy—Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony, they befriended us back in 1995, and it’s just been a great relationship since. They have really helped us out over the years. Now we’re all just best buds. But yeah man, we’ve done them before and they’re really fun. We’re on there with all the fans, and you’re also on there with all these other friends of yours in other bands. It’s a fun social gathering and a great spot to go see some other bands play live.

You have three boys, right? The youngest must be around 16 or 17 by now. Any of them looking to take up the mantle in the studio or making their own band?

Yeah, three boys. The youngest is going to be a senior next year. But yeah, they’re at the studio hanging out. They have music in their blood, so we’ll see what happens.

Your father founded Real 2 Reel studio in 1976, you took it over in 2018. How’s the studio doing? You’ve had some big clients come through in the past such as Alan Jackson, Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith.

My kids are older now and the studio just fell right in my lap. That place is a gem. You’re right the original my dad started in ’76, and that was the hub for Collective Soul. But this one was built in 2001, it’s just a gem of a studio and I just didn’t want to let it go. I’ve passionately put a lot of time and effort into the place. Man, sure enough, it is just awesome. It’s been renovated. It’s clean, it’s crisp. The more I let people know, the more people come down and record. The bands you mentioned were more of during my dad’s time, but we do have some good clients and many are new bands on their first record.

That’s great, man. Are there any projects going on now you can talk about or any new bands you think people should check out?

Yeah, there’s a band out of California called Odd Army. Also check out Red and the Revelers from Mobile, AL. Those are two great groups to check out for sure.

That’s a question I like to ask when given the opportunity to the veterans in the industry. I don’t believe music to be much of a competition and I think it’s great when bands that have made it get a chance to lift others up. Collective Soul has been on the airwaves for three decades now and has bridged several generations. I haven’t been to a Collective Soul concert yet, but I imagine the crowd spans a few generations now.

Yeah, a lot of our music gets trinkled into the newer generation for sure. When you think about it The Guardians of the Galaxy and Marvel stuff, they’re bringing back songs from the ‘70s that are becoming part of this new generation.”

For sure, I know “Shine” is featured on a new Netflix series BEEF released in April—

Yeah, dude, our songs get picked up all the time. We love that. It introduces us to an entirely new generation unless their parents had already.

The cover artwork to Collective Soul’s Vibrating.

I must admit I hadn’t realized you had a solo album out until recently, Serengeti Drivers released in 2018. I checked it out and it’s real cool, man. Some of the tracks, I get these kind of poolside chilling vibes from. If you had to pick one of the songs off to introduce someone to your solo work, which one would it be?

I always tell people “Demons” is kind of like my theme song. You take that phrase “I got to get rid of my demons,” and I always say, “I kind of have fun with mine but I can’t let them rule my life.” You got a little devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, I like them both and I got to find a way to live with both of them you know?

While watching one of your interviews on YouTube I heard you talk about a song you wrote during your quarantine with your family called “Cornerstone.” You seemed really excited about it during the interview, you really lit up. Is that something you’ve taken to the studio yet?

Oh yeah, man, I haven’t done that yet. That’s a good idea, I’ll probably get that recorded this fall, too. I must have been excited about that to mention it in the interview. I haven’t decided what I wanted to record yet but that one will definitely be one of them.

I also noticed you guys topped one million Spotify followers, which is solid milestone in the new age of streaming services. How do you guys feel about streaming services vs. the old days of album sales?

It’s relative to the old days. In the old days you only got paid once and fans could play your music as much as they wanted to. But with streaming the royalties keep coming in. There’s pros and cons, man. It’s been a crazy evolution in this industry.

Will I really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to chat. One last thing, you mentioned a documentary on the band in the past, when can we expect that to be released?

Yeah man we have a quintessential Collective Soul documentary out next year, I believe. I appreciate you all as well and I’ll see you at the show. | Colin Williams

Collective Soul on tour:

07.05.23 | Warren, OH | W.D. Packard Music Hall

07.07.23 | Milwaukee, WI | Summerfest 2023

07.08.23 | Detroit, MI | Music Hall Center For The Performing Arts

07.09.23 | Fort Wayne, IN | Clyde Theatre

07.11.23 | Marion, IL | Marion Cultural And Civic Center

07.13.23 | Davenport, IA | Rhythm City Casino Resort

07.14.23 | Onamia, MN | Grand Casino Mille Lacs

07.15.23 | Fort Dodge, IA | Oleson Park Music Pavilion

07.20.23 | Catoosa, OK | Hard Rock Hotel And Casino Tulsa

07.21.23 | Norman, OK | Riverwind Casino

07.22.23 | Lake Charles, LA | Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino

07.28.23 | Reno, NV | Silver Legacy Resort Casino

07.29.23 | Wheatland, CA | Hard Rock Live Sacramento

07.30.23 | Napa, CA | Uptown Theatre Napa

08.02.23 | San Diego, CA | Humphreys Concerts By The Bay

08.04.23 | Ventura, CA | Ventura County Fair – Ventura, CA

08.05.23 | Palmdale, CA | Palmdale Summer Concert Series

08.10.23 | Saskatoon, SK | Saskatoon EX – Prairieland Park

08.11.23 | Calgary, AB | Grey Eagle Event Centre

08.12.23 | Kelowna, BC | Rock The Lake 2023

08.17.23 | Bethlehem, PA | Sands Bethlehem Event Center

08.18.23 | Utica, NY | Saranac Brewery Presents Collective Soul

08.19.23 | Beverly, MA | The Cabot

08.25.23 | Winnipeg, MB | Club Regent Event Centre

08.26.23 | Regina, SK | Shake The Lake Fest

08.27.23 | Edmonton, AB | Midway

08.29.23 | Vancouver, BC | Commodore Ballroom

08.30.23 | Vancouver, BC | Commodore Ballroom

09.06.23 | Aspen, CO | Belly Up

09.07.23 | Arvada, CO | Arvada Center

09.08.23 | Omaha, NE | Shadow Ridge Music Festival

09.29.23 | Salt Lake City, UT | The Union Event Center

09.30.23 | Primm, NV | Primm Valley Casino Resorts

10.05.23 | Bend, OR | Century Center Bend

10.06.23 | Umatilla, OR | Rock The Locks 2023

10.07.23 | Airway Heights, WA | Northern Quest Resort & Casino

02.22-26.24 | Fort Lauderdale, FL | Rock Legends Cruise

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