No pressure means a lot of fun for Collective Soul

Published on March 25th, 2021

By Jim Dail

There are many rock bands from the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s that have continued to find success on tour, filling up arenas every night they choose to play. Many bands point out there’s far less pressure or even no pressure these days in terms of record labels and making hit records.

For Will Turpin of Collective Soul, pressure has never seemed to be a big deal.

“I don’t know if we necessarily thought that way when we were young,” he said. “We had fun then and we are having a blast right now. I don’t know how much pressure we felt back in the day. They let us do what we wanted to do. In the early days we were not worried but always were thinking about the next record.”

The band will play Saturday at Harrah’s SoCal Resort with 3 Doors Down.

Collective Soul burst onto the scene in 1993 with the megahit “Shine.” More hits followed and the band became a mainstay in rock music.

For Turpin, the band’s bassist, it began on piano.

“The piano was the first instrument my father owned,” he said. “He had a small studio which became a kind of a hub for us. But it was the piano at first for me. I took lessons and still think of everything as a keyboard, even when I play bass.”

Even to this day, the piano is still a comfort.

“When I go home, I play piano mainly,” he said. “I don’t sit down and play bass. I started to play bass in 1993, but I knew the piano and I knew the drums. I’d studied the drums and the structure and my best friend Shane played the drums so I started the bass.”

When it comes to the band and his music, Turpin doesn’t shy away about his beliefs.

“Its music,” he said. “It’s really not about technical proficiency, but it’s about chemistry and total output that can change the way people think.”

The band started in Stockbridge, Ga., and their first album became a mainstay with college radio until Atlantic Records picked it up and the band became a national sensation.

“That first year, ‘Shine’ was the rock song of the year and we wound up on a summer world tour with Aerosmith and playing Woodstock ’94,” he said. “It was wild. The very next year we were with Van Halen. It was one of the best things that happened to us. That fact that Sammy Hagar and Michael Anthony are still close to me is a great thing.”

Of course, they began to be labeled as part of the grunge/alternative movement of the early ‘90s.

“I think we definitely thought about the label, but it didn’t make us mad,” he said. “We were very rounded, had a very eclectic sound. We really weren’t part of the northwest, though I loved that stuff and still do. By the time our fourth record came out, people figured it out. We make good music.”

In fact, Turpin points out one big difference.

“Nobody sounds like us,” he said. “Eventually it becomes part of what makes us who we are. Alternative or grunge, call it whatever you want to, you focus on making whatever music that moves you, regardless of what genre they put you in. I mean Eddie Van Halen was a rocker, and then he took the band a whole new direction with keyboards.”

Of course, there is a band that Turpin loves that also was about going in a lot of directions, The Beatles.

“They are favorite,” he said. “McCartney is my idol.”

The band did a cover of “Jealous Guy,” a Lennon solo hit.

“I thought we did a good job on it, so sometimes I pat myself on the back,” he said. “But I play all kinds of Beatles songs. I sit down and play them on piano.”

For Turpin, it’s all about what the songs can do for a listener.

“Music can make change the way you think,” he said. “McCartney and Lennon were one of a kind with the stuff that came out. Good music can become the soundtrack to your life.”

In fact, it was Beatles songs that were among the earliest things he learned.

“I learned ‘Yellow Submarine’ when I was young,” he said. “I learned to play by ear, hearing the song and then doing general licks on the piano. ‘Yesterday’ was the first as a teen-ager that I could sing and play at the same time.”

But ultimately, for the band, and this may be a key to their success, the live shows become the thing that continues to draw people to the music.

“You have to make a mark with live shows, he said. “At this point we are considered a good live band. We feel very fortunate and appreciative that fans have given us the opportunity to keep going.”


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