Ed Roland jokes that he’s going through his “Allman Brothers phase” now that his hair is several inches past his shoulders and his stubble formed into Neil Young-esque mutton chops.
The Collective Soul frontman is on a rare day home in Sandy Springs, in between dates of the band’s ongoing “Now’s the Time” tour, a run that has both celebrated 25 years of Collective Soul-ness and spotlighted their current album, “Blood.”
They’ll bring their crunch-rock live show to the Coca-Cola Roxy on Nov. 29-30 as the stars of Rock 100.5’s “MistleToe Rock Show” Christmas concerts, marking the first time the Stockbridge-born band has played the venue (Roland’s Americana side outfit, The Sweet Tea Project, opened the place in 2017).
“I think it’s a great room. The band will love it and it’s 2 ½-miles from my house. If my wife leaves me, I can walk home!” Roland said with a laugh.
For the record, his lovely wife, Michaeline, is very much present, staying busy on her laptop in the family’s airy kitchen.
But before Roland and the band — guitarist brother Dean, bassist Will Turpin, guitarist Jesse Triplett and drummer Johnny Rabb — can concentrate on crafting setlists for their double-shot at the Roxy, they have a more immediate challenge.
Collective Soul will serve as the backing band for Chuck Leavell and Julian Lennon at Saturday’s benefit gala for the Captain Planet Foundation, an Atlanta-based organization co-founded by Ted Turner that funds environmental education projects for schools and non-profits.
Leavell, the renowned keyboardist for The Rolling Stones and The Allman Brothers Band (and co-founder of The Mother Nature Network), wants to play “Jessica” and “Tumblin’ Dice,” while Lennon, who hasn’t performed live in years, is expected to sing his 1991 environmental plea, “Saltwater.”
“To play with Chuck Leavell and Julian Lennon — much less have phone conversations with them — is pretty freakin’ awesome,” Roland said. “It’s going to be a fun night, and it gets us out of Collective Soul for a minute.”
Not that being immersed in Collective Soul has been a negative thing, especially this year.
“Blood,” the band’s 10th studio album released in June, is a robust effort, with their signature slashing guitar riffs (“Now’s the Time,” “Over Me,” “Crushed”) sitting comfortably alongside melodic toe-tappers (“Good Place to Start,” “Porch Swing,” which features Styx’s Tommy Shaw).
The single, “Right as Rain,” received notice on SiriusXM (Howard Stern is a longtime fan) and Billboard’s Mainstream Rock charts — a rarity for heritage bands, even one with a string of No. 1 hits including “Shine,” “The World I Know,” “Precious Declaration” and “December.” – as well as SiriusXM (Howard Stern is a longtime fan).
“I think it’s the best record we ever made,” Roland, who now sometimes goes by the family and band nickname of “E,” said definitively. “And the reason I say that is because when they asked us what song we wanted to send to radio, we all (wrote down our favorites), and every one of us picked a different song…We’re not a modern-day, active rock band, so for us to get on (those charts) was pretty darn cool.”
The band recorded some of the album in New Jersey, in an old church converted into a studio — which also had a secret passage to a bar overlooking a lake.
“So it was perfect for Collective Soul!” Roland said.
But, bars and lakes aside, the band maintained so much focus that they cut enough songs for a double album, something Roland was keen on releasing until common sense prevailed.
“(Manager) Charlie (Brusco) said, are you all a bunch of morons? No one releases double albums anymore!” The band acquiesced, but, as Roland explained, “I don’t stream music; I listen to albums. But I know people stream, and I can’t ask for an hour and 15 minutes out of them. I just wasn’t thinking. But as a kid, one of the things I wanted to do if I got successful was make a double album — “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” “The White Album,” “Frampton Comes Alive” — the list goes on. It was just something egotistical. But the songs were flowing like crazy.”
Enter “Vibrating,” the rest of the material recorded during the Jersey sessions, or as Roland refers to them, “Sides one and three” of their non-existent double album.
The upcoming release, which will likely arrive in late spring to preface the usual Collective Soul summer tour, was named because Roland likes the concept of vibrations.
“Vibrating is like living. We’re all made of vibrations. Music is part of vibrations,” he said.
But before fans experience “Vibrating,” Collective Soul plans an online release of a trio of just-recorded cover songs — R.E.M., Devo and Neil Young are the chosen artists — inspired by the band’s summer tour with the Gin Blossoms (frontman Robin Wilson would join Collective Soul for a version of R.E.M.’s “The One I Love”).
With Collective Soul’s members spread around the country — Dean, a new husband and father is in San Diego, Triplett in Nashville, Rabb in Indianapolis and Turpin in Peachtree City — Roland likes to keep everyone busy when they share the same space, which they are doing during this current two weeks of dates that will wrap with the Roxy shows.
“We enjoy each other’s company,” he said. “If we lived in the same town, we’d probably get in trouble too much. But when they’re here, I’ll find something for us to do.”
Clearly, that hasn’t been a problem.
With Like Machines. 8 p.m. Nov. 29. $50. Also 8 p.m. Nov. 30 with Hero the Band. $40-$163. Coca-Cola Roxy, 800 Battery Ave. SE, Atlanta. ticketmaster.com, 1-800-745-3000.
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