‘Blood’ Brothers Collective Soul celebrates its bond of 25 years on new tour

By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski

Collective Soul drummer Johnny Rabb arrived at an Indianapolis venue to start the next leg of his band’s tour. He looked down and saw the laminate: “25 years of Collective Soul,” it read.

He couldn’t believe how his time was flying with Collective Soul.

“I literally remember the 20 years lanyard and it seems like yesterday,” Rabb says. “It’s completely freaky and scary to me. People have said, ‘Congratulations on 25 years.’ I just say, ‘Wait what?’”

Collective Soul—who returns to town Tuesday, August 13, with Tempe heroes the Gin Blossoms and The Black Moods to play the Comerica Theatre—is supporting its 10th studio album, “Blood.” Fans can expect to hear new songs at the show that features singer/guitarist Ed Roland, rhythm guitarist Dean Roland, bassist Will Turpin and lead guitarist Jesse Triplett.

“We’ll play the hits that have come to be expected from the band as well,” Rabb says. “The new and the classics, if you will, of the songs.”

Rabb is one of the newer members of Collective Soul, which he joined in 2012. A longtime musician, Rabb enjoyed the playing style of original Collective Soul drummer Shane Evans and his successors Ryan Hoyle and Cheney Brannon. 

“I was very influenced by what they did with Shane and what they did together on (the songs) ‘December’ and ‘Precious Declaration,’” he says.

“I like the magic of what Ed does in the studio. With Will on bass, it’s such a rhythmic-based band, in my opinion. I love how it all comes together.”

Prior to Collective Soul, Rabb played drums for U.S.S.A., a rock collaboration with bassist Paul Barker of Ministry fame, guitarist/composer Duane Denison and lead singer Gary Call. (Barker is playing the Celebrity Theatre on Saturday, September 14, with Test Dept.)

“Paul is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met—a genius-level human being,” Rabb says. “We don’t really keep in touch, but when we see each other, it’s as if we are back where we were.”

He has also performed with Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams III, Maynard Ferguson, DJ Hype, Alain Caron, Frank Gambale, Larry Tagg, SheDaisy, Deana Carter and Mindy McCready. He is the co-founder of BioDiesel along with bassist, Clay Parnell. Together they comprise an electronic duo that performs live EDM.

Previously a music clinician, Rabb has been with Collective Soul for eight years and “it’s feeling really good.”

“They trust me to get here from my home, right down the street here in Indy, to the club,” he says. “I bring a professional level of playing and years of experience, experience within a rock band. I’ve been searching for this since the third grade.

“We bring each other joy and it just fits great,” he says. “I like it when people say, ‘You’re not doing drum solo stuff?’ That’s now why I started playing drums.”

That perfect fit is evident on “Blood,” which refers to the brotherhood between Collective Soul’s members.

“We had a very rough year by losing family members,” he says. “That was unexpected. What that title means to me is obviously we care for each other. I’m adopted. I have a brother, but these guys out here are truly our brothers. These guys were the ones also there for me.”