Exclusive interview with Collective Soul drummer (Johnny Rabb)- Johnny talks about the upcoming tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum, a new studio album that is being recorded, their LIVE album, and more.

Collective Soul has done a lot since they started in the 90’s, although they may not get as recognized as they should.  As well as having numerous songs that did well on the radio, they are a big touring band.  I think it shows as their last album was released in 2015 and they still toured in the summers of 2016 with the Goo Goo Dolls, 2017 with Our Lady Peace/Tonic as well as being the support act for Sammy Hagar for some shows, and this summer they will hit the road on a big amphitheater tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum called The Rock And Roll Express tour.  They have been touring this much when their last release was in 2015.  However, they do have a new album in the works in which Johnny talks about in the interview below.  According to Johnny, the new album will feature “a combination of everything the band has done” while also evolving into new territory.

While the band has been busy working on this new studio recording, they released a live album in the Fall of 2017 titled “Live.”  “Live” features a lot of the hits as well as a good amount of newer songs from their 2015 release “See What You Started By Continuing.”  Johnny says that live album is a great representation of who they are as a live band.  Johnny says songs from “See What You Started” will also be played on this summer’s tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum.  Get ready to hear some new songs too though.  The band has been playing a lot of new songs recently and may even debut other ones on this tour.  This tour was trying to be planned for a while, but it just never happened until now.  Johnny thinks all bands are a great fit together and worked well in the past when they played shows together.

Johnny himself just joined the band in 2012 when they hit the road for their “Dosage” tour playing that album from to back.  He talks about how that was a crazy experience for him and how he learned all of the songs quickly on such an ambitious tour like that which was around a 2 hour show every night.  Johnny loves playing in this band with these guys and feels like they go into the shows as a team.  He was also a big fan of their music before he joined the band.

For more info on Johnny Rabb (Collective Should rummer), go HERE to his official website.

Interview with Johnny Rabb of Collective Soul

AR: So the band is going on tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum for a big summer tour which I assume you guys are excited for.  I read somewhere that Chris from 3 Doors Down said they were trying to plan tour with Collective Soul for a while, but it never came into place.  What are you looking forward to the most about the tour and touring with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum?

JOHNNY: Mainly the love for the music and all the guys are great.  You know we all get along great.  We’ve done shows with 3 Doors Down before and we got a great reception from the bigger crowd and the mixed crowd whether it’s ours or theirs.  It’s always a great thing to join them, meet new fans that are their fans, and we can share our music with them.  Each time it worked well in the past and put on a great show.  Same with Soul Asylum.  Both of these bands together with us have been a good fit in the past, so we’re really excited to have all three of us out.

AR: Soul Asylum got popular around the same time as Collective Soul and 3 Doors Down got well known around half a decade later.  The music 3 Doors Down have put out over the years is not too far off from Collective Soul though.  With that being said, you probably have some of the same fans as these other bands while there are also probably some people who aren’t as familiar with your music.  Do you think your music will go over with the 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum fans that aren’t that familiar with your music?  Do you think you will gain a good amount of new fans from it?

JOHNNY: Yeah man.  Here’s what I think happens.  The respect we have for each other when you get out there and do your songs obviously you know how many thousands, probably trillions of bands there are in the world.  Every band got their own unique sound and unique style.  That’s what makes people like different things.  Like if you and I compared notes we’d probably like some of the same bands, we might have “I never head of that band” or “I need to hear that band” type of conversation.  So I think what happens we get out is of course we are looking to have our own fans that are die-hard fans that come to the show and enjoy the show and also enjoy 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum, but of course we’re going to gain new fans.  To answer your question on whether they like it or if it is a good fit.  I found that the answer is yes.  This is my seventh year in the band.  Even myself, I’ve known the band since they’ve started in a sense about them right?  I think that what happens is when you start to hear Collective Soul’s tunes, you get this thing of like “I didn’t know that was them.”  “Oh that’s them too.”  And that’s not being arrogant.  It’s just actually for me its kind of like a fact.  Folks that have known Collective Soul that might be coming in as more of a 3 Doors Down fan or something that’s awesome because I think they will hear us and go “I want to get more into that.  I forgot they did that song.  So I think that’s a big one.  Yes, to answer your question.  I think it’s a really good fit.  I think the fans are going to have a great time with all the bands.  I think they will enjoy it.

AR: You guys have a huge song catalog to choose from for the setlist’s of the shows which is diverse too.  I know the band has been playing a good amount of new songs too recently.  Besides some of the hits and some new songs, what can fans expect to hear?  Around how many new songs do you think the band will get to play each show?  Will it be the same new songs you have been playing or will you debut new songs live on this tour?

JOHNNY: That’s a good question.  I think that obviously Ed is mainly in charge of setlist’s right.  I think we all get together and talk about it, but you know we leave it up to Ed a lot.  This is the thing I’m not being secretive.  With all the shows we’ve been doing in the past.  It’s going to be a new set and it’s going to include some songs off “See What You Started.”  Obviously we would do the catalog hits and also I’m hoping there is going to be some of the news ones we just recorded.  I don’t know the number.  Obviously show to show changes.  We try not to do just one set and then go.  We try to surprise folks and keep it fresh.  That will be something literally in a couple of weeks I will find out myself.

AR: About the new songs, I read that the title of the upcoming album is called “Blood” which might be a double album.  It said one side will feature the rock songs while the other side will feature slower songs with string and arrangements.  When I interviewed Will about his solo album, he also said that Collective Soul “caught a nice wave of creativity on the latest CS recordings.”  Can you talk a little about what makes these new songs different from the other albums besides that it is such an ambitious album having two sides to them?

JOHNNY: Sure.  I think what’s amazing is I have always loved Ed’s writing.  He is very amazing, I was going to say very good.  My point is he has such a knack for writing and he is such a diverse writer that on this record I think he ic choosing to do things that are songs that, all songs tell a story, but there’s driving rock songs like we’re saying.  I know you’ve said there’s slower, but not necessarily tempo.  More being there could be just more acoustic sounding or more nicer or just good grooves and nice feeling songs.  They might be mid-tempo, but the vibe of the song might be a little more mellow.  And then of course I said we have some driving rock songs.  And you were asking about the wave of creativity.  When we’re in the studio it’s just been a blast because of the chemistry.  I know that sounds like a cliche answer, but the chemistry has been there the last couple of year or three years of being in the studio.  It’s becoming very fun and it just kind of comes out of our instruments and I don’t want to say we’re cruising through songs because definitely we spend time trying to craft the right arrangements with Ed and the guys.  Will will try to come up with the right rhythm section and Dean and Jesse.  But in this record we just had a great time.  ..I think that’s why all the songs are going down so easy is the word I’m looking for and just coming off sounding right.  And as I said Ed does a good job and I’m always seeing him write on the road, at his house, and he is Soo god at it so it’s not that hard when you have a writer like that.  And then you mentioned Will. He is a writer.  You got Dean, he is Magnets and Ghosts.  You just did Will’s interview for “Serengeti Drivers.”  That’s my point, we all play music, not just our instruments.  You know what I mean, so it’s exciting.  Yes, Ed is leading it, but he gives us some leeway to come up with the parts of the songs that he is presenting.  I know that’s a long answer, but I will tell you.  I’ve listened over to what we’ve done over the last two years, year and a half.  It’s been pretty cool.  Its like I forgot that we tracked that song.  This is going to be great when it comes out, so I’m excited.

AR: Yeah I heard you guys went back into the studio and that a lot of songs have been recorded all together.  

JOHNNY: That’s what has been amazing about this.  Instead of this looking like you go in and “we have to put a record out.”  It’s been a very good process.  We did those ten songs and then Ed is like “I’ve got some more to record.  Let’s go to the studio.”  So what’s cool is it becomes like a mini volt in my opinion.  Where you’re done and then you don’t hear them for a year or something.  That’s  what’s been cool to me.  This is going to be such a good release, however how Ed or the guys want to put it out.  We’ve got close to twenty tunes recorded.

AR: Unless I’m seeing the band live when they play new songs, I usually like to wait until the album comes out to hear the new songs.  I did listen to “Observation Of Thoughts” though because it had really good sound quality from the paste studios acoustic performance.  It sounded really good acoustically, but can you talk a little about on how a song like that will sound on the studio version possibly with string arrangements or orchestration?

JOHNNY: Sure.  We’ve always heard artists like Ed can pick up an acoustic and do a tour on his own singing vocal and accompanying himself on his acoustic.  When you get in the studio you have the magic.  You have the magic, the ability if you want to add different nuances like string arrangements, percussion, drum kit parts, the bass, keys, and all sorts of stuff.  Each songs going to be thought go as its own piece, an orchestration.  That’s the magic.  And when we’re live, we also try to keep it very real.  So when you hear the record, we’re not adding so much, so its like “Where did the band go?”  I always think that Ed, the choice the band makes on arrangements and the choice they make of instrumentation has always been dead on.  So we were messing around a couple of weeks ago during soundcheck doing these things we recorded.  And we were doing different stuff in the studio so I might take a drum set part and also embellish the percussion that was added into the groove for live.  So that might be the difference.  We just want it to come off as a great representation of the song and being musical and enjoyable for the listener.  We’re not always worried about having it sound live like how it sounds on the record. And lastly, I will say even though I am saying the number of songs we recorded.  Who knows what the release will be, how many are songs on the release will be, or when the release will be just to be clear.  I am just excited we have a lot of material and that it doesn’t seem to bending and that Ed is on fire with writing.  And that as a band we’re on fire and as friends and like family.  We’re just touring and I don’t see anything but for emotion here.

AR: You wouldn’t know if that song is going to be on the record right?

JOHNNY: At the moment I’m just going to say I don’t know because if I said yes and it wasn’t, I could be in trouble.  But I mean, I hope it is.  How does that sound?

AR: I think your last album “See What You Started By Continuing” was received very well by the fans because of how it was kind of like a return to your roots with the straight ahead guitar rock.  The new song “Right As Rain” doesn’t sound too of from songs on an album like that.  Can you talk about a little on if the other new upbeat songs will sound like songs like that or if there will be some more experimental upbeat rock songs like songs on “Dosage” or “Blender?”

JOHNNY: I think that it’s a combination of everything these guys have done which is cool regarding your question “will it be like?”  I’m not being smart.  I think it’s going to be a new sound no matter what (the evolution of what’s going on).  I’d be mistaken to tell you to we recorded that sounds stuff just like “Dosage” or this is just like a song on “See What You Started.”  And I’m not being smart.  Even me as the drummer, I’m going like “alright there’s going to be a twist on there.”  I keep saying driving rock because there really are some tunes on there that we did that are up-temp, driving rock, and just in your face rock.  It’s exciting.  Totally the classic Collective Soul sound.  But as all bands with the evolution of bands.  It’s got that evolution to it as well to being new sounding as well.  I’m hoping listeners go “Oh man, this is a new record.”  Not just following the last but influenced but what Ed and everyone has done, but again moving forward with new songs, sounds, and ideas.

AR: Talking about “Dosage,” I think you started with Collective Soul around the 2012 “Dosage” tour.  Can you talk about how it was starting out with the band for the first time, in particular on an ambitious tour like that where you guys played that album from to back?

JOHNNY: Yeah somebody reminded me of that and my background as a professional drummer.  Somebody asked me “how can you learn songs that fast?”  Jesse and I (Triplet), we both are….Everyone in the band, you get to a point where they say “learn these 30 songs,” if you had to, you just do it.  And its quick.  I think my brother was asking me “dude how did you get ready for that?”  His name is Mike.  I’m like Mike, “You just do, it’s not tough.”  When I say tough, It just kind of becomes like they say 10,000 hours.  Some people, you know there’s different levels of learning.  I kind of got it down to learning but I’m not going to lie, it was sometimes over a two hour show, that “Dosage” tour.  There was tons of songs, but I pride myself on that.  I wanted to play live like the record sounded “Dosage.”  I wanted it to sound just like it so I did certain things to my drum kit, different muffling on certain songs, different simple choices, things like that.  But when it first happened, when we started in Florida, we did not rehearse much.  I’m sure Ed would say that.  We did not.  I don’t know for two days or three days, not much per day, and in Nashville, this is what I love about Collective Soul.  In Nashville, you go in with a band leader and rehearse for too much in my opinion, right?  It was exciting to hit the road, but I was the edge of my seat.  Like literally the edge of my seat, and maybe not knowing certain endings.  There was a couple of times where it became kind of a joke with Ed making fun of me a little bit like “Dude relax, slow down.”  Its cool.  Here I am coming off of 0 days with them and they have been together you know for the 20 years at that point or 19 I think when I joined.  There was the first couple of weeks on the days off when the guys were like “why do you have your headphones in?”   I was like “I am still trying to zone this thing in.”  Good news is we are completely in good shape now.  I know it sounds funny it’s six years later, but that tour I could remember it only took like a week for the band to get completely locked and yeah it took like a week.  I think I even had the Uncle Kracker drummer (a friend of mine).  I was embarrassed but he was like “dude great show.”  It’s one of those not noticeable things, but to me as a pro drummer I was like “I got to tighten this up or I have to watch that ending.”  I appreciate you asking, that was a challenge for a tour, but man exiting to have done that.  It was great.

AR: The band also put out a live album not too long ago titled “Live.”  The album contains songs that were performed live at different concerts rather than one single concert.  I think I read you had a lot to choose from.  How was it like choosing which exact performances would be used for the album?  Was it hard?

JOHNNY: Again not trying to sound arrogant, but thats isn’t too touch to choose.  I know Ed and Shawn like went through and found ones they like.  The good news is the band at that time and we still are now was just like really on track and tight, so every show was coming off really well.  So it was like we just wanted to pick the best vibe we got made.  It might had a different vibe a little bit, but I am proud to say that on that record it marks where the band is at as a unit and each show is consistent.  I’m sure there were a little differences each night a little bit, but is really a consistent act and a show and we love playing those songs, so that record I’m extremely proud of.  When people ask I say “here’s a studio album.  I’m very proud of this and here’s a live album, so it’s really cool when there’s ever a question in the drumming community like “how does he sound live?’  Because I don’t blame folks, they were fans of the past drummers and me too.  I love all of them and are friends with them.  You know big shoes to fill and happy to say it seems to be working out with that live album.  It’s a great mark or the band because it’s really like this is what we are in 2017 right now and get ready if you want to see us live because this is what we are going to do on this next tour.

AR: The band plays a lot of shows and goes on a lot of tours.  Due to that, I would say it is good another live album got put out, so people who aren’t familiar with your live show can see what it is all about.  One thing that I thought was cool which shows you are more than a standard live act is how you used an extended version of a song like “December.” With that being said and by which songs were used, would you say this live album represents how the band is today as a live act?

JOHNNY: Yes.  And as a person that loves live records from a kid, I always thought it would be cool to have something that represented it.  I know it is kind of funny.  There’s obviously an exposure to Live correct? You can break a stick, You can break a head, somebody can break a string, somebody can miss something.  We are all humans.  That is the one thing that I think is amazing about this band.  On our worst shows, I still think that they’re awesome and on our best shows I think that they’re incredible.  As I said I know I disclaim and not being arrogant.  I’m just extremely proud how tight it is.  And I also love when we play festivals and there might be some other band and this is not bad, but they might be having tracks behind them.  We just don’t.  It is a live band and in any moment it could fall apart, but we don’t let it and I love our professionalism and feel like members of a team.  We’re going to nail this.  We’re going to have fun doing it, but we’re going to nail it.  And the answer is yeah it truly could go to the show on this next tour.  Check it out and pop out the live album.  And of course for setlist changes right, but you’re going to go “I just saw that show and that album represents the show I saw.  Yup.

AR: Last question.  I heard the new album was supposed to be released this Spring, but got delayed because you guys recorded more.  Can you give somewhat of an update on how far you guys are with recording it and any idea on when it might be released?

JOHNNY: Well, yeah the songs are done, there are final touches by Ed and some of the guys, but we recorded it all these songs live if you will in the studio like I said microphones up and we’re playing as a band as opposed to just one at a time or something like that.  So, we might record again.  But what I mean is that’s what I love about this band.  It’s not even so much like focused on “we have to releasee, we have to release.” It’s the fact that there are artistic songs that Ed would like to release or excuse me record and have them.  So, we’e going to keep recording.  It’s not like “oh we got to go record.”  Never.  Its like “Man lets do this.  Awesome.  You got more songs, let’s go, let’s go.”  So to answer your question on how far along it is.  I mean it’s very far along.  It could be released soon and I’m not being vague because to try to keep some big secret, but I don’t want to make any error.  I don’t know even for myself.  I don’t even know yet.  I just know that there are plans.  It will come out and really I want it out as soon as possible.  But hopefully 2019 brings this new record and I’d love it if it’s a double record.  Its up to Ed and what he wants to do.  All I know is what an experience it has been.  Because that’s one of my favorite bands.  I’m in the band with them, but it is just a really cool process and I love being with these guys.

AR: Thank you very much for your time and for doing the interview.  

JOHNNY: Hey, thank you so much and I appreciate it Scott.

AR: I look forward to seeing a show in the summer. I will be at the New York show.

JOHNNY: That’s awesome man.  Make sure you let us know if you’re there if you can.  Right on well thank you so much.

AR: Have as good one.

JOHNNY: Take care man, Goodbye.

AR: Bye

Here are the upcoming dates of The Rock And Roll Express Tour with 3 Doors Down and Soul Asylum:

Fri 7/6 Atlanta, GA Chastain Park Amphitheatre

Sat 7/7 Jacksonville, FL Daily’s Place

Tue 7/10 Boca Raton, FL Mizner Park Amphitheater

Wed 7/11 Tampa, FL Al Lang Stadium

Fri 7/13 Pelham, AL Oak Mountain Amphitheatre

Sat 7/14 Biloxi, MS Mississippi Coast Coliseum

Sun 7/15 Houston, TX Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion

presented by Huntsman

Tue 7/17 Irving, TX The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory

Wed 7/18 Cedar Park, TX* H-E-B Center At Cedar Park

Fri 7/20 Oklahoma City, OK The Zoo Amphitheatre

Sat 7/21 Maryland Heights, MO Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre

Tue 7/24 Chicago, IL Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island

Thu 7/26 Minneapolis, MN The Armory

Fri 7/27 West Bend, WI* Washington County Fair

Sat 7/28 Riverside, IA* Riverside Casino

Fri 8/3 Clearfield, PA* Clearfield County Fair

Sat 8/4 Kalamazoo, MI Wings Event Center

Tue 8/7 Sterling Heights, MI Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre at Freedom Hill

Wed 8/8 Huber Heights, OH Rose Music Center at The Heights

Fri 8/10 Gilford, NH Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion

Sat 8/11 Holmdel, NJ PNC Bank Arts Center

Tue 8/14 Brookhaven, NY The Amphitheater at Bald Hill

Thu 8/16 Uncasville, CT Mohegan Sun

Sat 8/18 Niagara Falls, NY Seneca Niagara Hotel & Casino

Sun 8/19 Atlantic City, NJ Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa

Tue 8/21 Baltimore, MD Pier Six Pavilion

Wed 8/22 Greensboro, NC White Oak Amphitheatre

Fri 8/24 Nashville, TN Ascend Amphitheater

Sat 8/25 Simpsonville, SC Heritage Park Amphitheatre

Thu 9/6 Leemore, CA* Tachi Palace Casino

Fri 9/7 Las Vegas, NV Pearl Concert Theater at Palms Casino Resort

Sat 9/8 Funner, CA* Harrah’s Resort SoCal

Tue 9/11 Denver, CO Fillmore Auditorium

Wed 9/12 Salt Lake City, UT* Utah State Fair

Fri 9/14 Mescalero, NM* Inn of the Mountain Gods Casino

Sun 9/16 Phoenix, AZ Comerica Theatre

Sat 10/27 Cherokee, NC** Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort

* Not a Live Nation date

** The Better Life Foundation Concert

About the upcoming tour according to the official press release and he band’s bio, lead singer Ed Roland of Collective Soul said:

“It’s going to be an exciting summer! Not only are we going to be out with a great band, but also some great friends. I look forward to seeing everyone come out and rock with us, 3 Doors Down, and Soul Asylum.”

“When you see us this summer, you’ll get the vibe of how much we enjoy what we do. You’ll see how much we enjoy each other, and how much we enjoy making music together,” confirms Collective Soul’s visionary frontman and chief songwriter, vocalist/guitarist Ed Roland. “You’ll get all the hits, but we’re also going to throw in some new stuff too. One thing about having nine studio recordings is that it’s hard to fit everything into the set right now. It’s a good problem to have — to be around that long and have so many songs people really want to hear. But once we find the right live groove, we also know what works in this kind of set.”

A little more about Collective Soul from Ed Roland (lead singer) from their official bio:

Part of finding that fine live balance comes from the level of care Collective Soul take in crafting their set in order to maximize the best live experience possible for their audience. “It’s all about the dynamics,” Roland observes. “We talk about all kinds of different things — even the background vocals, and how we want them to appear. Sometimes they’re louder on the actual studio recordings, and sometimes I feel they need to be softer when they’re live.”

A good bit of Collective Soul’s onstage performing acumen can literally be found in their collective DNA, what with Ed and his brother, rhythm guitarist Dean Roland, having a Southern Baptist minister as their father. “As a child, I would look at my dad up on his stage. He had a pulpit, but it was his stage, you know?” Ed recalls. “That’s how we all grew up, to be honest with you. Dean and I saw my dad preach, and [CS bassist] Will Turpin and [CS lead guitarist] Jesse Triplett grew up in the church too, so we all kind of fit in that mold. And when you see us play, you should feel like we’re holding a kind of revival. I guess I always dug that idea. I just wanted it to be louder, and with more lights!” he concludes with a laugh.

The bottom line is, Collective Soul music is all about harnessing the honest feeling of rock & roll, no further labels necessary. “Brad Arnold [lead singer of 3 Doors Down] and I were talking about this a couple of weeks ago,” shares Roland, “and even when people were calling us grunge or post-grunge, we just considered ourselves a rock band. We never considered calling it alternative, grunge, or whatever — we’re just a rock & roll band. We’ve become very comfortable with how we describe our music.”

About the band’s legacy:

‘Approaching their 25th anniversary in 2019, it’s evident the legacy of Collective Soul is as strong as ever. “I think it all comes down to the songs,” Roland believes. “When we started out as a band, we just wanted to write the best songs we could. We always had the mindset of being an album-oriented band. We wanted to create the 10 or 12 best songs we could get on there. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, that’s the hit. That’s the one that’ll be on the radio. Let’s hurry up and finish.”

Collective Soul on social media:




Official Website

Be sure to check their music out on Spotify or iTunes.

To see some videos on Collective Soul, check our Videos section which has them performing acoustically at Paste Studios (great sound quality).

We also did an interview with Bassist Will Turpin (of Collective Soul) talking about his new solo album “Serengeti Drivers” which was just released.  You can check that out HERE.


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