One-on-one with Will Turpin of Collective Soul - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

One-on-one with Will Turpin of Collective Soul

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Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2011 4:20 pm

Q: How does the music on "The Lighthouse" differ musically from Collective Soul?

WT: Well, all of the melodies and music came out of my head as opposed to Ed Roland's. Obviously, Collective Soul works as a band when we make records and this is me on piano, acoustic guitar, bass, vocals and singing harmonies. It's more from one person's brain rather than five who comprise a group called Collective Soul.

Q: Why did you title it "The Lighthouse?" Does it have any significance?

WT: It does. There's a track on the record called "Sailor," and that song is about the fact that you can't help people unless they want to be helped. "I can't save the sailor from the storm" is the lyric and when talking about a lighthouse, if you don't follow the lighthouse, you can't necessarily be saved.

Q: What made you finally decide to do solo project outside of Collective Soul after 18 years?

WT: That's true, but I have produced some stuff here and there, singer Michael Tolcher for one. Collective Soul has pretty much been a full-time job and we've stayed busy over the years, so there hasn't been much of a chance to go out and experiment on our own.

Q: It seems like this is the year that everyone in the group has a solo project going on. Was that a conscious decision or something that just evolved?

WT: We pretty much sat down and decided we're going to take some time off from Collective Soul and recharge our batteries. We did it before in 2001, but this time it's a totally different set of circumstances. This time was a lot more thought out than our first break.

Q: Why an EP of five songs as opposed to, say, an entire album?

WT: I started off with 14 tunes and as I got into it, I realized how much I wanted to do. I simply didn't have as much time and resources as I wanted, so I picked fives tunes to represent a little bit about what's going on musically with myself and wanted to get it out as soon as possible. That's really the thought process behind it. The songs I chose were the ones that came together the easiest and the best in terms of representation.

Q: How long did it take to produce "The Lighthouse?"

WT: Eight months, but some of the songs have been around a few years. I know that "60 Seconds" and "Her Name" are at least 3 to 5 years old. Some of the songs and lyrics had been written but from the time I whittled the list from 14 to five songs, that process was about eight months.

Q: Let's talk about the studio where you cut most of these songs - Real 2 Reel Studios - a studio your father founded and where acts like .38 Special and Wet Willie once recorded. It must be a second home for you?

WT: It felt very natural and my father raised a family on that studio. I've recorded there so often throughout the years, I'm now 40, and the last 18 years have gone by in the blink of an eye. I'm glad I did my first solo work at Real 2 Reel because of the comfort level, and the crew helped the songs get to be where they needed to be. The room is just beautiful, amazing. When you're there you're bunkered inside and working. It's a very functional place that I just so happen to have a key.

Q: You're known for your bass playing, but most of songs on "The Lighthouse" are piano-based. That's going to be a bit of a surprise to your fans.

WT: I started off on the piano and received lessons starting at 8, and continued until I was 12. I was also a music major in percussion in college when I went to Florida State University and later, Georgia State University. I was playing percussion in many different ways between private lessons and hand drums with Jimmy Buffett cover bands to marimbas in symphonies. I was doing that when we got signed to Atlantic Records back in the early 1990s. Music is pretty much all I've ever done and it's always flowed through me. My friends say I can pick up any instrument and make it sound good, so I guess there's something to that.

Q: And that leads to my next question: Is melody something you're born with or something you have to work at?

WT: That's sorta like the evolution question ... which came first, the chicken or the egg? I think that might an instrinsic quality you're born with. I certainly believe there's an aptitude for it, and perhaps it is something in the genes.

Q: Melody seems to flow naturally out of Collective Soul and you on this new EP.

WT: Right. It has always felt natural to me and I hope it feels that way to everybody else. And of course, the Beatles have always been a big influence on me when it comes to melody.

Q: What did you learn about yourself after producing, distributing, starting your own label and, now, promoting "The Lighthouse?"

WT: It's kind of daunting when you invest and promote yourself as an artist, so that's the first thing I learned. It's a lot of work, but the experience has been rewarding. Luckily, the reaction has been really good. I've learned I want more for myself and I feel good about finishing the songs, and I want to finish more.

Q: Does this mean we might see more Will Turpin songs show up on Collective Soul releases in the future?

WT: Possibly. I'd like that.

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