In 1994, five guys from Georgia scored with a big-hooked rock song called “Shine.” The single rose up the old-fashioned way, finding major airplay on college radio and gradually bleeding into the mainstream. “Shine” ended up just missing the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100, but it did send the group’s debut album Hints, Allegations, and Things Left Unsaid to double platinum status, despite the fact that it was a collection of barely mixed demos.
Seven albums and 18 years later, Collective Soul are still a band (though now a quartet), and just launched their first tour in four years. The focus of this run is their fourth album, 1999′s Dosage. We’ve seen plenty of ’90s nostalgia tours, many of which are centered around iconic albums. Those albums tend to be critical favorites or commercial juggernauts (or both), but Dosage is neither.
It was not the band’s biggest seller (that was 1995′s self-titled release) nor does it contain its biggest hit (“Shine” still holds that distinction). So why elevate it to legendary status?
“It was always our favorite as a band,” guitarist Dean Roland said. “Our fans tend to be more song based. I don’t know that our fans have one particular album where they go, ‘Oh man, this is it!’ They associate us more with individual songs than whole albums.”
Roland admits that people also tend to recognize many of the songs but not necessarily associate them with his band. “We’ve always had kind of a faceless image,” he explained. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword. You’re not over exposed, but the band also doesn’t have that high profile to go to that next stage of awareness. And it’s okay. There’s an anonymity that we all enjoy, but people still appreciate the music.”
Collective Soul joins a barrage of bands from that era who are spending their summer on the road. The list reads like a radio festival lineup from 1995: Counting Crows, a bill featuring Blues Traveler, Barenaked Ladies, Cracker, and Big Head Todd & the Monsters, and another with Everclear, Sugar Ray, Lit, Gin Blossoms, and Marcy Playground.
“We’ve pretty much toured with all those bands,” noted Roland. “It’s just agents putting packages together to sell some tickets. And it works! It creates good value and it’s fun. In the ’90s, lots of bands were selling lots of records. That was an end of an era. Right now, there’s a handful of people selling most of the music. There are still great bands out there, but there’s a different level of interest for buying music.”
“It’s just been 20 years,” he says. “It goes through cycles. Not to downplay it — there were great things that came out of the ’90s.”