Atlanta’s pride blends guitar and vocals

By Nicole Kobie

With four top-selling and critically acclaimed CDs, eight number-one singles and millions of fans. Collective Soul must be doing something right. So then, why are they changing their proven formula?

Their fifth album Blender, retains their guitar-driven attitude but has a different feel than previous efforts. This may be simply because of the inclusion of "Perfect Day," a duet between lead singer Ed Roland and the one and only Elton John–a strange inclusion on the record. While most Soul songs are heard on rock radio, this track would get better circulation on a light-rock elevator-music station.

With the exception of "Perfect Day," Blender is fun, with good reason. The recording process played a part in the album’s feel.

"It was more relaxed, more spontaneous," says guitarist Dean Roland, with a Georgian drawl. "Before we were really meticulous in the studio–we tried to play every part perfect. Now this time we were going for a feel versus how good the part was played."

The laid back atmosphere resulted in an "open-door policy" which is how Shawn Mullins and Marvelous Three’s Butch Walker and Jayce Fincher ended up on the album.

That isn’t, however, how the flamboyant Elton John ended up with the aforementioned duet.

"He’s one of our musical heroes," explains an excited Dean. "He’s a major influence, especially with Ed. It was a good thing for us on a personal level."

Their musical influences read different than the usual list though, so the inclusion of John shouldn’t surprise fans. The Roland brothers’ father was a preacher and heavily censored what music could be played in their home.

"He was pretty selective of what we could hear," remembers a nostalgic Dean. "Pretty much like any good father should."

Nevertheless, music was always a factor in their lives. Their father was a voice major in college and is now "totally supportive" of his sons’ careers.

Two brothers working together in a band has historically caused problems such as in Oasis. However, the Rolands get along incredibly well. While they have their rough moments, as any siblings or band members do, they don’t let them get in the way.

"It’s an advantage, [but] it’s challenging," says Dean of working with his older brother. "The best thing about it is you totally have someone you can trust. There’s a brother between Ed and I… they [both] used to kick my ass."

Currently in the middle of a tour to promote Blender, Dean is happy to be on the road.

"Honestly, once you’ve been in the studio for awhile, you want to get back out on the road and get the fan reaction."

Collective Soul comes to Calgary Oct. 24 at the Jack Singer.

"I always loved to go to Canada, and I’m not just stroking you," laughs Dean. "Canada’s always been one of my favourite places."

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