By Laura Latzko
Some bands have an undeniable sound; just a few chords allows listeners to identify their music. Collective Soul, a band out of Georgia that started in the 1990s, has that type of distinctive sound.
Collective Soul, which will perform Tuesday, September 18 at Casino del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater with 3 Doors Down, is best known for the songs “The World I Know,” “December,” “Shine” and “Run.”
In 1994 and 1995, the band won Billboard Music Awards for Top Rock Song for “Shine” and “December,” respectively.
During the tour, the group is performing new, unreleased tracks along with hit songs. The group released a live album in 2017 and has been continuously working on new music.
A mixture of longtime and newer band members, including three original members, make up Collective Soul. The group consists of lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist Ed Roland, rhythm guitarist Dean Roland, bass player Will Turpin, lead guitarist and backup singer Jesse Triplett and drummer Johnny Rabb.
Rabb, who joined the band in 2012, has 30 years of percussion experience and worked in Nashville for 12 years. He was preceded in the band by drummers Shane Adams and Ryan Hoyle.
Before joining Collective Soul, Rabb was a fan of its music. Playing songs from different periods in the band’s history has been a meaningful experience for him as a musician.
“I get the best of both worlds. I get to play some things I’ve been involved in the process of recording but then also the hits,” Rabb says.
Being the new guy with Collective Soul hasn’t been difficult because the other members have been so welcoming. Over the years, Collective Soul’s musicians have formed a close-knit group.
“It’s the chemistry of friends on and off the stage and at the same time professional musicians,” Rabb says.
Although the band continues to evolve and develop new ’70s and ’80s rock and pop influences, it stays true to its musical roots.
The tour has allowed the band to connect with diehard fans as well as new listeners. He says more than 20 years later, Collective Soul’s music continues to engage and resonate with fans of all ages.
Many longtime fans are starting to share the music with their children.
“It’s great to see them bringing their kids out so that other generations of people are getting into it,” Rabb says.
The continued passion for making music drives Collective Soul to continue.
Each drummer with Collective Soul has brought his own style to the group. Rabb is best known for his freehand technique and electronic DJ approach for acoustic drumming, which he will sometimes bring to the music.
“My success in the drumming industry was trying not to sound like other folks,” Rabb says. “You can put the same song on 10 drummers, and you’d hear the same song, but there’s 10 different styles on that song. There is an individualism in there.”
When playing popular hits such as “December,” the drummer tries to bring his own flair without straying too far away from the original sound.
“That’s part of the professional drummer musical challenge is to have that respect and work with it how the guys want it,” Rabb says. “If they really want me to do my own thing, I might stretch it out a little different, but the actual form of the song, Shane’s part, I try to lock into what was done in the past. Same with ‘The World I Know.’”
While playing live, the musicians will often stay true to the original intent while improvising in the moment.
“We can stretch solos out. We can change an arrangement on the fly. That’s the magic of how we communicate onstage. It’s really that musical bond that we have,” Rabb said.
What: 3 Doors Down and Collective Soul: The Rock & Roll Express Tour
When: 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 18
Where: Casino del Sol’s AVA Amphitheater, 5655 W. Valencia Road