With a career that encompasses seven albums, numerous billboard-topping singles and over a decade of music, the boys from Georgia are back. Daze had a chance to interview Collective Soul bass player Will Turpin just in time for their upcoming Cornell concert, to be held Sunday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Barton Hall and organized by the Cornell Concert Commission.
DAZE: So what’s up with Collective Soul as of now? I know you guys just released an acoustic album, but what else are you working on?
Will Turpin: Well we’re always working on new songs. We also just finished production on a live DVD that’s due out the first week of February.
DAZE: You guys are touring again. How’s that been?
Will Turpin: That’s been real cool. You always want to do it again after you’ve been off the scene for so long. It’s been real positive. I mean, we come out and everything’s sold out and people are excited to see us. We have a whole new bunch of fans coming to shows who don’t even realize that we have songs that are 10 years old because they’re just hearing the new stuff over the radio.
DAZE: Do you prefer touring or working in the studio?
Will Turpin: Well I like them both. The studio is a creative thing where you’re really very introspective with the guys in your band and touring is kind of like a traveling circus when you’re playing on stage. They’re really different things and you got to have one with the other.
DAZE: Is there a favorite song that you like to play live?
Will Turpin: I prefer definitely something that is not a radio hit because it seems easier for me to get into. I like doing all the songs but right now I like a song called “Under Heaven’s Skies” off of the new record.
DAZE: You guys have been around for more than a decade. How do you think the band has changed?
Will Turpin: We’d like to think that we’re always continuing to get better. Back in the day I had the attitude where I thought we were supposed to be a popular rock band and we were supposed to be the cool thing and I took it for granted and it was just something that I thought would happen cause I thought we were that good. And now it’s like I see a lot of friends that I think are just as good or better than us and at this point, ten years later, I think I have a greater appreciation for what our popularity has allowed us to do for a living. And it all boils down to fans. I mean, we can be the greatest band in the world but if nobody is buying your records and nobody wants to hear your songs, it’s really hard to do that for a living. So when I get off stage now or look out at the crowd, I feel this huge appreciation and pride in what we’ve created.
DAZE: Your newest album is called Youth. Do you think your music has evolved to become more “youthful?
Will Turpin: “Youth” was actually more a reference to the way we got back together to record this record. We had been apart for a couple of years because there was all kinds of personal issues and just to basically take a break from nonstop touring and recording. And when we got back together to record, the energy felt more like the days in the beginning. I mean I would like to think that our music always sounds youthful. I wouldn’t want it any other way.
DAZE: How have your origins factored into your music?
Will Turpin: Environment is definitely going to always be part of who you are or what you create. It’s hard to say how growing up in Georgia together helped create what we are. I know as individuals, we felt like playing together and we felt like our chemistry together was special and that’s always been a key ingredient in Collective Soul. And the music we grew up listening to wasn’t necessarily southern rock influenced. We were more influenced by Brit rock and other things going on outside the Southeast but southern music was part of our life. There’s no doubt we knew who Lynyrd Skynyrd or the Allman Brothers were growing up. But our biggest influences were bands like The Beatles and Elton John. We grew up in the ’80s so we were influenced by bands in the ’80s like U2 or The Cars.
DAZE: Do you think any newer bands could influence your sound or are you guys set in the music that you’ve created?
Will Turpin: Yeah, I think that all things still, every day in our lives affect us and can change the way we think about things. I know they do.
DAZE: Did the break rejuvenate the band or was it difficult to get back in the mode again?
Will Turpin: Well that’s why you take breaks so you come back fresh and rejuvenated. That was the idea. And when we came back, the chemistry was great. I’d be lying to if I didn’t say that I was a little unsure if we would ever create a record again. But when we came back together, the magic was still there and it felt like the days of yore, it felt like the beginning, hence the name, Youth.
DAZE: Is there anything you guys have planned for the future besides a new album?
Will Turpin: We’ve got that live DVD recorded with a full symphony, a youth symphony and 23 Collective Soul songs so that was a big undertaking. That’s coming out in February. We’ve got a new record coming out for sure some time next year in the fall. We’ve definitely already worked on a lot of new songs. Now that we’re back together, we plan on working pretty consistently for the next five years.
DAZE: You guys released Youth on a label of your own. What has that experience been like?
Will Turpin: Creative power hasn’t really changed. Atlantic Records always gave us creative power. When we came to them, we already had a whole record done so it wasn’t like Atlantic Records had a hand in the creativity of Collective Soul in the beginning. So that when the second record came around time to record, they just let us do it on our own also. On the business side of things, it’s been awesome to be involved with every little decision we make and know where every dollar is spent and how everything is done in the business. That’s been real educational and actually real fun. But there are pros and cons to both ways of doing it. If you go with a corporate label, there’s a negative side to that but there’s a positive side to that as well. And the same thing with our little independent label that we’ve created. We’ve discovered at this point that what we’ve done has been a huge success: we’ve created our own label, we’re the board of directors and the band. Ultimately as an artist, you don’t want to not own what you’re creating and that’s one of the problems we had with corporate labels. You don’t really own the masters.
DAZE: Would you guys ever think about signing other bands to the label?
Will Turpin: Yeah, definitely. Ed produces a lot and I’ve produced some other people on the side. I’d be willing to try to develop another act but right now we’re trying to make this thing work with just us. It’d be too much to bring someone else on board.
DAZE: What do you think is the difference between playing a university and playing a regular live show?
Will Turpin: There is a difference and I’d use the word “youth” again. It’s a little more youthful. It’s got a little more playful spirit.
Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Arts and Entertainment Editor