‘Collective Soul’ at 25: Ed Roland Reflects on the Album and the Hit He Once Hated

Roland recalls the eight month period that helped shape the band for the rest of their career

August 13, 2020
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1995 was a frenetic time period in Collective Soul’s history. Frenetic might be an understatement.

The band’s debut album Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid was released in 1993 on an indie label out of Atlanta. That album featured the song “Shine,” which catapulted the band from relative obscurity to national stardom.

This caught the attention of Atlantic Records, which promptly signed the band. “When we got signed we thought we were going in to re-record everything,” Ed Roland said in an interview with RADIO.COM.

Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid never represented what the full band could create together, but Atlantic didn’t want to kill the momentum the group had going.

What resulted was an eight month process that Roland described as the band going “90 miles an hour.” Now as the band celebrates the 25th anniversary of what would follow, Roland shares more details about that chaotic era.

Instead of being afforded the time to go into the studio and craft a record, the band was put out on the road performing all across North America and Europe. They turned soundchecks into writing sessions and put time in studios on their days off.

“We were on the road and we were really adamant (about getting the record done),” Roland said. “We had heard rumors that we were going to get dropped because everybody thought of us as a one-hit wonder.”

Roland would present songs to his bandmates during soundcheck and they would work on them while getting ready for the show later that night. Oftentimes, Collective Soul would perform those songs during their set. “I didn’t have the lyrics and I would just mumble whatever until I could get it down,” Roland said.

“I called it the eight months of pre-production in front of a live audience every night,” he added with a laugh.

Their eponymous album is something Roland considers to be the band’s true debut record. “Hints Allegations and Things Left Unsaid was just a batch of demos I made over a five year period in a basement studio. There really was no band,” Roland said.

Collective Soul on the other hand reflected contributions from the entire band and what they could create when they were all in the studio together.

Roland attributed three factors to the band successfully getting the record out just eight months after they had their debut album released by Atlantic.

“First we were nervous that we didn’t want to be considered one-hit wonders, second we didn’t want to get dropped,” he said.

“Third I was just vibed up, the adrenaline was running heavy because people were showing up and we were seeing ourselves on MTV. You know, that silly egotistical bulls***.”

Since its release, Collective Soul has gone Triple-Platinum and spent a total of 76 weeks on the Billboard 200 charts.

There’s two moments about the making of the record that stand out to Roland 25 years later.

“Gel was the first song we did,” he said.

“We recorded it in Chicago on a day off. I had this idea of this crazy intro. I wanted a mellotron, but we didn’t have a mellotron. I made my guitar go through this wacky Leslie speaker and manipulated the sound, but it was really the first time we sat together as a band in the studio and played that song live. We did four or five takes. That will stand out to me as our first recording as our band.”

The second moment involves the band’s hit song “The World I Know,” which if Roland had his way, would be very different from what was put out.

“Right at the end of recording, I for some reason had lost my mind and hated ‘The World I Know,’” he said.

“I decided on the last day of recording that I would rewrite the lyrics and the melody and put it over the music bed to ‘The World I Know.’”

Greg Archilla, our engineer, walked in the room and goes, ‘what the f*** are you doing man, have you lost your mind? Just leave it alone!’ It’s so funny to me that I was literally going to change that song that day, the last day, because we were getting ready to go on tour.”

As Collective Soul celebrates its 25th anniversary, the band has released a special deluxe reissue of the album available on CD, vinyl, and digital formats via Craft Recordings. The album is now available for the very first time on vinyl and features six bonus tracks including live recordings of “December,” “Where the River Flows,” “When the Water Falls,” and “Bleed.”

You can purchase the album now and find out more information on the band’s website.

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