UCR Interview- Will Turpin of Collective Soul

Interview By: Kevin Rolfe

Photo By: Lee Clower

Multi-Platinum, Georgia-bred rockers COLLECTIVE SOUL are celebrating their 25th anniversary in 2019! The band’s silver anniversary year will be a celebration of their ongoing legacy in all-out style with a little bit of the classic and a lot of the new.

Not only have they already announced their Summer “Now’s The Time Tour” with Gin Blossoms that kicked off May 25, but in keeping with the Atlanta band’s theme of 2019, “Now’s the Time” to also let fans know that their tenth highly anticipated studio album, BLOOD, was released June 21 on Fuzze-Flex Records/ADA.

The “Now’s the Time Tour” will be stopping here in Utah tonight (August 27) with Gin Blossoms at the Sandy Amphitheater.

I had the opportunity to visit with Collective Soul bassist, Will Turpin. We discussed the bands recently released album BLOOD, what it feels like to be celebrating 25 years in music, what his kids think of his career, and what we can expect from the live show. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did! -Kevin

Utah Concert Review: Hi Will, it’s good to be talking to you again. Where am I catching you tonight?

Will Turpin:   I’m in Oregon somewhere.  It’s really beautiful. I’m right by the river and the amphitheater here is awesome. Let’s see where I’m at.  Ok, I’m at the State Fair in Roseburg, Oregon. Yeah, some of the big festivals and fairs I’m not really sure where I’m at.  I can tell you what state I’m in and that’s about it.  

UCR:  Well you’re all over the map so I’m impressed you know what state you’re in.  

So, 25 years!  That’s so hard to believe.  I remember when you guys first came onto the scene and here you are 25 years later. As somebody following your career that’s pretty nuts, but as somebody in the band, what are your thoughts about that? Does it seem like it’s been that long for you?

Will Turpin: Well yeah it’s really wild the whole time referencing thing. Because it feels like wow that was like another lifetime ago. Then certain things like certain venues or recording certain records seem like it was yesterday. I can definitely tell you the in retrospect kind of vibe when we were young and first starting out we weren’t thinking 25 years, we were just thinking about what we could do then. We were really excited to keep making new music. I remember us thinking about how much we wanted people to hear more of what we had. When we look back in those first five years we were released for records.

UCR: Wow.  You guys were working hard!

Will Turpin:  Yeah! But it didn’t really feel like work when you’re young. It kind of became the groundwork for a 25-year career. now we’ve got Blood out and I’m telling you when we get together and create we still get those same goosebump moments. I still get those moments when the hair stands up on my arm.   So that feels exactly the same. I’m 48 years old. I’m older, my kids are older. I’ve got a family and stuff. That’s way different. But the creation process and having fun on stage feels the same. I can talk on and on about how fortunate we are to do this for a living.  I hear a lot of people tell us now we look like we’re having fun on stage. We’re totally having fun. It’s a big picture thing for us now. We feel fortunate to be able to create music for a living and we’re very appreciative that people have allowed Collective Soul to be the soundtrack of their lives, to be the background music for so many memories. I guess when we were younger it was all about what we could do and the output we could do. But now while Blood is our current release, now it’s more like, let’s just celebrate the fact that we’re all here enjoying music. It’s a celebration when we play live. 

UCR:  I agree, you guys do look like you’re having a blast on stage.  I always think that adds to the show. That lets people feel like if you’re having a good time then it’s easier for them to let loose. I guess it’s a give-and-take on both sides.

Will Turpin:   Yeah, I think that definitely helps grease the gears. You do hear people say that all the time that there’s a give and take with the audience and the band. It’s tangible, it’s real. There’s some kind of energy transfer. Yeah man, it’s something we’ve been blessed to be able to be a part of. The fans definitely give us the energy back.

UCR:  That’s awesome.  So I wanted to talk to you a little bit about Collective Soul’s latest release, Blood.  First of all, do you have a favorite song off of the album?  

Will Turpin:  Favorites are tough because the songs feel like little children in some way. I love “Over Me”.  I love that type of rock song. It’s still so good to me. We’re playing that one live.

UCR:  Well, I bet it’s awesome because you get to lead everyone in on that song.  

Will Turpin:  Yeah, it’s not because it starts with bass but yeah it does start with bass. 

UCR:  Well that’s got to be fun for you. It’s an awesome bass line. 

Will Turpin:  Oh it’s definitely fun live. To get up right in front of everybody and start the whole song for everybody. Yeah, I love doing it.

I love “Big Sky”.  I like the whole general takeaway of “Big Sky” and that vibe.   I’m a sucker for those songs that just kind of ride. The big takeaway from “Big Sky” is the overall theme that there’s something bigger in life than us as individuals. We’re opening up with “Observation of Thought”.   I just think lyrically It’s a masterpiece of Ed’s. I can say that about this whole record. I just think it’s one of the best creative outputs that we’ve ever had. I think the sequence of songs is amazing and I’m proud of it.

UCR:  And you make a good point because if someone asked me my favorite song from the album I might say “Porch Swing”.  That’s the tenth song on the album and it could be a single. So from top to bottom it really is a strong album.

Something that I always find interesting with bands is somewhere in the creative process you developed your “sound” as a band.  The styling might be different on each album throughout your career, but when I listen to even this new album it still sounds like Collective Soul. So when you guys get in the recording studio obviously it’s you guys so you’re going to sound like yourselves but, is there ever a discussion especially after all of these years where you guys might say something like “ We need to make a ‘Collective Soul sound’ on this album”?  

Will Turpin: Nobody really sounds like Collective Soul. It’s been like that from the beginning. But it’s just natural. It’s just like you say it’s because it’s us. The vocal styling it’s going to sound like Ed. I think if we sat down with a game plan and model that we thought would make a sound like Collective Soul, I don’t think it would be the right approach. I don’t think it works like that with art. With art at least from my perspective, it has to be authentic. You can’t really shovel bull shit over on people.  So when it’s authentic you start to use the word real. And with the emotion what we’re talking about becomes tangible. And I feel like when you can pack the emotion in the song that’s what people are gravitating towards. It’s emotions it’s not something that we can put into technical terms and say here’s how we’re going to sound like Collective Soul. Basically just capturing emotion and being ourselves. We feel like when we do that; when we feel like we’re being real, we don’t really focus on the rest.

UCR:  Those are great points.  I think of this album Blood definitely sounds like a Collective Soul album but there are other bands where I’ll here are their new album and I’ll think ‘Oh I really like this song’. Then upon further listening, the reason I like that song is because it sounds like another one of their earlier hits. But with this album, it’s definitely not the case. It doesn’t sound like your early albums but it does feel like a Collective Soul album. I think there’s a real difference to that.

Will Turpin: Yeah, and like I said you can’t calculate that.   But in the same breath, you want that. 

Photo By: Lee Clower

UCR:  Now you guys are in a really interesting situation.  I don’t know if I’ve seen this before. You’re celebrating 25 years, but you’re also promoting this new album.  How do you balance this awesome landmark in your career while still wanting to share an album that you’re really proud of?  

Will Turpin:  It’s a good problem to have sometimes to not be able to play some of the older tunes that you want to play. We want our setlist to flow right. We want it to have all of those moments you know, the high moments, and the laid-back moments.  I want people to experience a live show again as they’re going through their memories. So right now we’re playing five new tunes off of the record. The fans know their new, but these fans and again we’re really fortunate to have this kind of fan base,  the new songs are going over great. The setlist is going over amazing right now. 

UCR: You mentioned you have kids.  What do they think about what you do for a living?

Will Turpin:  I wonder. I’d like to be on their heads. I mean they know that I’m a professional musician and they don’t know any other kids other than some of my friends. I don’t know what they think about it I think they’re happy.  We get to do a lot of things that other people don’t get to do. They miss me a lot when I am hustling. But when I’m not hustling the amount of quality time I get to have with my children is off the charts.

UCR:  I’d imagine it can be a bummer when you’re gone, but when you’re there you’re really there.

Will Turpin:  Yeah when I’m there it’s not like the dude that’s working 9 to 5. It’s 100% solid. We’re doing stuff and figuring out what we want to do with the day. I mean I’m still just Dad. I’m still not cool. It doesn’t matter what you do your kids will never think you’re that cool. I can’t imagine any other dad being cooler than me.  But believe me, to my kids I’m not cool.

UCR:  The last thing I wanted to ask you, I know you’re out as you mentioned hustling and promoting your stuff right now, but have you come across any bands or musicians that you like?
Will Turpin: My buddies in Royal Tusk released a new album this spring.  We toured with them a few years ago. I think they’ve released their third album.  They’re out there kicking butt right now. Other than that I like a bunch of music that’s out right now. Luckily my kids have great taste in music. That was probably my biggest fear. Most parents have other fears about what their kids are going to be like when they grow up. I swear one of my biggest fears was definitely that they would have a bad taste in music. As far as hearing new music I’m getting all my leads from them. My oldest is 21 years old and Jude is 16 years old so I’m getting all my leads from them as far as all the good music that’s out there.

You can find Collective Soul’s new release BLOOD anywhere you buy or stream music. And to purchase tickets to the “Now’s the Time Tour” with Gin Blossoms go to smithstix.com

See you there!

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