Collective Soul returns to Alaska with preview of new album

Chris Bieri
Courtesy Collective Soul

Ed Roland was ready to go in a different direction.

He’d been producing music and playing in bands for nearly a decade, but had little to show for his effort.

From the basement of his Atlanta home, Roland, with the help of some friends, recorded a promotional demo album he hoped would showcase his songwriting and studio production ability.

“I was trying to get a publishing deal,” Roland said.

Roland began to circulate a collection of the songs, and one of them, “Shine,” started gaining airplay on college radio stations in the Southeast.

That song went on to become a No. 1 hit in 1994 for Roland and friends, known as Collective Soul.

“People started requesting it and before we knew it we had a hit with a batch of demos,” Roland said.

The band was briskly signed to Atlantic Records, which re-released the demo album “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid,” kicking off the career of one of the most frequently heard bands of the decade.  

Collective Soul followed up its surprise debut with a self-titled album, producing a pair of major hits in “December” and “The World I Know,” and vaulting the band into major tours and festivals.

"It was very hectic,” Roland said. “You go from one moment of years of nobody showing up to see you play except who you’re dating to opening for Aerosmith and playing Woodstock."

In the '80s, Roland attended Boston’s vaunted Berklee College of Music, studying guitar and songwriting.

Some of that classical training is evident in Collective Soul’s songs, with Roland adding layered string arrangements to the boilerplate rock songs.

“Some songs when you write you hear string arrangements, others are straight-ahead rock riffs,” Roland said. “The one thing we all agree on in Collective Soul is the Beatles, for them being an example (that) you can go anywhere you want to (with an arrangement). They set the rules -- there are no rules. They opened up that anything goes, so whatever fits the songs, we try.”

More than 20 years into a career that included seven top hits on various charts, the band is about to release its ninth studio album, “See What You Started By Continuing."

"We went back to where we started: rock riffs and a couple of songs with the strings,” Roland said. “I play more piano than I ever have on this, which is fun for me. It expanded my musicianship."

With the exception of adding some vocal tracks, the album is in the can and Roland expects it will be available by next month. Fans will get a sampling of some of the songs during the stop in Alaska, where the band last played in 2011, according to Roland.

Collective Soul’s return to Alaska will be a homecoming for bassist Will Turpin, who was born in Fairbanks. Roland’s wife was also born in Anchorage, but her family only lived in the state briefly.

“We have a lot of ties to Alaska,” Roland said.

The band has toured heavily in 2014 and will continue into 2015 to back the upcoming album.

“It’ll be one step at a time,” Roland said. “We’re getting this release out. Next year will be a busy year for us to support the music. Then we’ll sit down and say, ‘Do we still like each other?’ But everyone is in a good place and we love what we do.”

Collective Soul

When: 5 p.m. doors, Aug . 9

Where: Chilkoot Charlie’s

Tickets: $35 in advance at brownpapertickets.com, $40 at the door

All ages, beer garden for those over 21