Collective Soul has much to celebrate

New CD, Hall of Fame induction and 'Twilight' hit keep Rolands smiling

If les freres Roland weren't so open, so friendly, so gosh-darn nice, we'd fashion this tale after Gay Talese's famous Esquire piece about Frank Sinatra and title it, "Ed Roland Has High Cholesterol."

But no. Unlike the brooding crooner, whose artful dodge of his natty interviewer produced the renowned "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," the Collective Soul rockers seem like guys who'd help you move on a weekend. They famously follow back on Twitter, posting photos and updates and responding to fans. Dean even posted about a little tiff at a Myrtle Beach bar over the summer.

"First shot I've taken to the face," he tweeted at the time.

But no fists were flying on this day. They showed up early -- early! -- to a lunch interview, propping themselves happily at the bar at Ted's Montana Grill. Fashionably shaggy, looking a bit like Sammy Hagar and Wolverine, they bounded over to a table where Ed ordered the salmon to keep Lipitor at bay. The Stockbridge natives, whose song "Tremble for My Beloved" made the "Twilight" soundtrack, are out with a new CD Tuesday and will be inducted next month into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. Besides that, they were celebrating Ed's birthday and the birth of his new baby, Lennon.

Here's a sample of what we talked about.

Q: So, come here often?

Ed: Ted Turner is one of my heroes, since I grew up here. I finally got to meet him at a Hawks game. (Ed's wife, Michaeline, gets him books for Christmas each year. A signed copy of "Call Me Ted" is a prized volume in his library.)

Q: What is it with you guys and Twitter?

Dean: I sort of got addicted to it. We try to be interactive. We do hear from an assortment of nuts. That's just part of the territory.

Ed: We always make ourselves accessible to fans. You just want to thank everybody.

Q: Talk about the new album.

Dean: The process was the most fun we've had in years. We sequestered ourselves.

Ed: It's organic. It sort of gets back to playing in our parents' basement. This album isn't even out yet and I still have the same fulfillment with it as one of our biggest selling records. The song I'm most proud of is "Understanding." We wrote it together.

Q: When do you know a song is finally finished?

Ed: When Dean says, please, don't play that anymore.

Dean: We have to put ourselves on deadlines. You have to have discipline, and just call it.

Q: What does it mean to you to be inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame?

Ed: It takes you back for a second. It's unbelievably flattering. There's a lot of people to thank. We need to start making that list. There's so much history in Georgia music. It's fun to say I'm from Atlanta. We have the Indigo Girls, T-Pain, Usher, Jermaine Dupri. It's inspiring.

Q: Has being on the "Twilight" soundtrack attracted a new fan base?

Ed: Our audience has gotten a little bit younger, but we're always willing to play the music from when fans discovered us. We're not one of those bands that's too cool for the songs.

Q: What do you listen to?

Ed: My 11-year-old son just got an iPod for his birthday. Daddy loaded some songs onto it: U2, The Cure, REM, Bob Marley, Roxy Music.

Q: So Dean, what was the deal with the Myrtle Beach fisticuffs?

Dean: Some guy thought I was messing with his girlfriend.

Q: Were you?

Dean: No!

31st annual Georgia Music Hall of Fame Awards Show

6:30 p.m. Sept. 19. Tickets $75. Tables $750, $1,000. Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd. N.W. 770-491-9494, Ext. 15; www.georgiamusic.org .

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