After four years out of the public eye, Collective Soul singer Ed Roland has a message for the world. "Let the word out/I gotta get it out. Whoa, I'm feeling better now," he declares in "Better Now," the energetic rocker that launches Youth, the Georgia rockers' first studio album since 2000's Blender.
Following a tumultuous four years, Ed says, "There were a lot of things that just kind of slapped us upside the head and told us it was time to take a break" the band is indeed back, reenergized, thanks in part to co-producer Dexter Green and new guitarist Joel Kosche, and, in the words of both Roland brothers, "Starting over."
Which makes Youth a very fitting title for the new album. "Youth to me is a mindset, not a number," Ed says. "We've been doing this for ten years and we've never felt more youthful and more ready to be in the position that we're in." "Even the music represents that starting over to some degree. We switched gears and went to more of our roots on the music level and production level," Dean adds. "It does feel like a 10-year cycle, we were just starting out, playing similar venues and seeing people that we're seeing today. Yeah, it definitely feels like we are starting over on many levels, but starting over with a big head start."
If Collective Soul seems to have recaptured the hunger and determination of an indie band just starting out, rather than an act that had 19 different singles reach the Billboard charts during a seven-year span, it's because they are an indie band again for the first time since 1993's Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid (later re-released on Atlantic as Rising Storm). And Collective Soul is taking the "Do It Yourself Philosophy" to its limits, releasing Youth on its own El Music Group imprint. "This is not just an independent label; we're doing it from the ground up. We're assembling our own team and are going to tour our asses off," Dean says. "We've got a great team surrounding us," Ed adds. "So it's like truly building your own house with the material that you so choose." As for the major difference in running your own label," Ed says, "Our ideas are listened to for a change, which doesn't mean they're acted upon, but they're listened to."
After a seven-year run that that was highlighted by such rock radio smashes as the catchy as hell "Gel," one of seven songs during that interval to go to #1 on the Billboard Rock Tracks charts, the omnipresent upbeat number "Shine," the soaring ballad "The World I Know," "Blame," "December," "Precious Declaration," another rock radio chart-topper, and the list goes on and on, Collective Soul has learned a few things about writing memorable hooks. All of that experience went into the striking 11 songs on Youth, an album Ed describes as "a mixture of Dosage and the first CD, really poppy tunes and fun production."
Among the standout selections is the infectious Collective Soul Chorus of "Home," the heartfelt and hooky ballad "How Do You Love"; the atmospheric, rich mid-tempo rocker "Perfect To Stay," and the anthem-esque "Under Heaven's Skies," which explodes from its genial verses into a ferociously raucous chorus.
"I want people to feel the good energy, the good place that we are in. I think that a lot of these songs represent that," Dean says.
Collective Soul has gone through enough turmoil during their absence to fuel a Behind the Music miniseries. "I was going through a divorce, Ed got a divorce," Dean says, But as the old adage goes, "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." And Dean believes that to be true for the band. "When you recognize your vulnerabilities and weaknesses you become stronger and that's when your character is defined. I think that's where we are as a band."
For Ed strength was found in his now six-year-old son, who, to Ed's pleasure, took up plenty of his time during the absence. "That was the ultimate time spent, learning to be a dad and him learning to be a son," he says laughing. Yes, the band that started out in their early 20's has gotten older. "Will and Donna had a child and they had another one during the break, so everyone just became very domesticated in a sense during the break," Ed admits.
It doesn't mean though that they've forgotten how to rock or what it's like to be on the road playing for tens of thousands of screaming fans. The fans have made sure of that. "To be gone as long as we have and to be accepted..." Dean says, a sense of awe in his voice. "The record hasn't even come out yet, but the shows that we've played and the reception we've received for some of the new tracks, it's pretty amazing.
--- from the official Collective Soul website