All successful bands have a beginning and often somebody who leads the group into success. For Collective Soul that person was Ed Roland.
Like many musicians, Roland had to work his way up in the industry. He started off quite formally, studying songwriting and guitar at Berklee College of Music in Boston. He also worked as the lead engineer and producer at a studio before starting his own band in 1985 called The Eddie Band. This band later turned into Marching Two-Step and finally evolved into what we know today as Collective Soul.
Where did Roland come up with the name Collective Soul? It was said that he was reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead and came across the phrase “collection of souls”. Although author Ayn Rand actually uses the phrase in a negative connotation, using the “collective soul” as a threat to the main character’s sense of individualism, Ed is quick to point out, “…we’re not preaching Ayn Rand, objectivism, egoism, or anything…we just dug the name…” and “it [the band’s name] could’ve come out of a Motorcycle Magazine.”
The band was virtually unknown until 1993 with the song “Shine” which came from the album “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid.” The song started off as an underground hit that college radio picked up. With this hit the band signed with Atlantic Records, boosting its mainstream status quickly.
“Shine” was followed with other US Rock Chart #1 hits including “December,” “Where The River Flows,” and “The World I Know”. The band had also gained widespread radio play across all mainstream formats, reaching beyond the conventional rock radio. Although Roland and his band were headliners and two of their albums had sold 5 million copies, the group was receiving little pay as the manager had claimed publishing rights. This caused a rift within the band, causing the group to split, cancel tour dates and face legal battles.
Times were tenuous as the group could not tour, record and weren’t even sure they could maintain ownership of the band name. While waiting for legal battles to settle, band members hid out in a cabin in Stockbridge, Georgia and began recording songs on their computer. One of these songs would be known as “Disciplined Breakdown”, a song that chronicled emotions and feelings the members were going through. The court case was eventually settled and both parties were not allowed to discuss the outcome.
Not letting the situation get him down, Roland continued to improve his skills as a writer and vocalist. His brother Dean also became a member of the band.
By 1999 the band came out with “Dosage”, the group’s fourth album. Singles such as “Run”, “Needs”, and “Tremble For My Beloved” also gained notable positions on the rock charts. With these chart increases, Collective Soul became the most played band on the radio in the 1990s. By 2000, the group’s albums weren’t seeing the same success but Roland saw success in his duet with Elton John singing “Perfect Day”.
Albums to follow the group’s roaring success of the 1990s included “7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994-2001″, “El Music Group”, “Youth”, “From The Ground Up”, “Home”, and “Afterwords.” Songs that became hits included “Counting the Days”, “Better Now” and “How Do You Love”.
In 2009 the group released their eighth album, self-titled “Rabbit”. The single “Staring Down” and “Welcome All Again” helped boost the group back to the top of charts once again.
Roland said the single “Staring Down” was written about people not having to be in a dark place after a bad relationship – how one has to let go of that energy and leave themselves open to positive energy. On the same album is the song “Hymn For My Father”. Roland said he wrote the song about his father who had died four years prior and who taught him about music.
Originating from Stockbridge, Georgia, the group was honored by the state in 2009 by being inducted in to the Georgia Hall of Fame. The group is still actively writing and performing around the world.
Jeff Bachmeier is owner of 977music.com, an online music and online radio station network providing live streaming Internet Radio channels with music from the 50’s thru Today. Users can also choose to create their own customized on demand playlist through their own social media profile. For more information please visit http://www.977music.com.