Jacques Sonyieux talks with Will Turpin of Collective Soul about the band’s 10th album, 'Blood'; staying inspired after 25 years; and exploring one’s humanity.

Ten albums in 25 years is quite an accomplishment for any band in this day and age, particularly considering how fast the industry and its related technologies are morphing and diverging. Over the years, Collective Soul has not only remained stable both live and in the studio, but its sound has continued to evolve with each new release. The band’s new album, Blood, the culmination of that quarter-century journey, has already racked up impressive positions on the Billboard charts in multiple categories. But chart success isn’t everything, according to bassist Will Turpin, who says the band remains wholly focused on the art.

On staying inspired

I don’t know how you stay inspired, but that feeling still comes when we all play together. Total goose bumps, hairs standing up on my arms, and it’s magic! When you catch a vibe and you know you are creating something special—a piece of art that other people will appreciate—it’s magic. It all boils down to emotion, and whether you capture that emotion in the music. This is ultimately what I feel hooks people in—when they have an emotional connection, whether it be through their memories or the lyrics. Ed [Roland] is a master of making lyrics relatable for a number of different circumstances, depending on the individual.

August 2019 Music Etc. Collective Soul band photo, square

Collective Soul

On collective wisdom

It is about really hearing the songs and always trying to serve the song. After 25 years of doing this, you are basically able open up creatively and use your ears and heart rather than depending on the more technical parts like counting the rhythms or putting your finger on the fretboard. Once you use your ears and heart and you get that feeling, you know that it is special. That’s what we set out to do while we are recording, and it is all live and in one room.

On recording on the lake

The bulk of the material was recorded in New Jersey at The Barber Shop Studios. We rented a big lake house about two or three miles from the studio. For the most part, we already knew the material we were going to record by the time we went in there, but Ed threw in a couple of songs for us to check out. “Big Sky” was one that we made on the fly that day, and it ended up being my favorite. We also definitely rode a wave on the solo section of “Them Blues.” Jesse [Triplett], Johnny [Rabb] and I were definitely playing off of each other and were in a sick pocket. It was awesome and it felt so cool that we were popping it live.

Related: Music Etc.: Steven Van Zandt, by Jacques Sonyieux, June 27, 2019

On creating bass tones

For me, the sound always starts in my mind; this will help determine which bass I pick and how I will approach the bass tone. I can make a bass sound so many different ways just by how I am playing it; for instance, where I am playing it on the strings can have an influence how much low end there is, or using a pick rather than my fingers can influence the attack. If I want some versatility after I’ve recorded, I will send multiple audio signals to the recording rig so I don’t have to overthink it while I am playing. While I am recording, I just make sure that the core sound I am looking for is there based on the vibe of the song—that’s where it all really starts for me.

On Blood and humanity

Blood is partly in reference to all of us getting older and maturing, but it is also in reference to our individual legacies—the families that came before you and the children that are coming after you. The album is also about brotherhood and has references about all of humanity. There are a couple of songs on the album that deal with the human behaviors we are seeing right now, socially and politically.

On jogging memories

Every song we’ve ever recorded brings back specific memories of what we were going through as a band at the time. The track “Disciplined Breakdown” on the third record was particularly memorable. When we were recording it, we had to break it down to the simplest recording approach we could find. At the time, we couldn’t get a recording budget from our label and we were going through a lawsuit with our manager, so we financed our own record and recorded it in a cabin. Now I listen to the songs and it is like, “Whoa, dude.” It has a totally raw quality because of the circumstances behind it, which is also what makes it unique for me. It’s real.

August 2019 Music Etc. Collective Soul album cover, "Blood."

Collective Soul has just released its 10th album, Blood.

On staying focused on the art

When we started the band, it wasn’t like we were confident and cocky, but we never thought “this might not happen.” All we thought about at that point was what we could do next. That said, I do remember being nervous when a record would get released—like our second record, which was a big deal. This nervousness carried all the way through Distant Breakdown and Dosage. Now, with the release of Blood, we’re way past that. Our record is a piece of art, and it does what it does. We’ve already done the “chase the charts” thing, but it doesn’t really matter in the end as long as you are creating impactful music. I’ve never questioned whether our material was good enough; I was only nervous about the amount of success each release would achieve. I think this album is the culmination of all the experiences we’ve been through. Here we are, 25 years later, and everything is in there. The energy and the performances on this record are 100 percent real.

Want more stories like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get it delivered right to your inbox.