Before forming Collective Soul, Ed Roland had studied music composition and guitar playing at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. Since the mid 1980’s, Roland had been involved in underground music; either making unpublished demos or performing. He also worked at Real 2 Reel Studios in Stockbridge during the 1980’s and early 1990’s, which was owned by Will Turpin’s father. Roland’s main duties were producing, mixing and engineering work for local Atlanta artists. He also recorded his own demos and released his independent solo album Ed-E Roland in 1991. He had a pre-Collective Soul band in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s called Marching Two-Step which included Shane Evans, Michele Rhea Caplinger, and Matt Serletic.
Caplinger would go on to be a music industry publicist and she was appointed executive director of the Atlanta Chapter of the Recording Academy in 2000. Serletic would go on to produce albums for Collective Soul, Matchbox Twenty, Blessid Union of Souls, and Edwin McCain.
Prior to Marching Two-Step, in the early to mid 1980’s, Ed had recruited keyboard player and backing vocalist Christopher Dykes, drummer Tony Caporale, and bassist Skip Godwin to play live in clubs and showcase for A/R personnel from various record companies. At this time the group was simply known as “Ed-E”. During this time the band played several shows, played a part in a CBS “Movie Of The Week”, and were guests on the local Atlanta television program “Music Peachtree Style”, where local Atlanta based artists were interviewed and profiled. That initial version of the “Ed-E” band dissolved in the mid to late 1980’s due to musical tastes among other differences.
Marching Two-Step were a band for several years, but never managed to grow beyond the local club scene. Roland’s early attempts to be signed to a recording contract by a label ended in rejection. In 1992, he enlisted musicians to record a demo in a basement. Roland intended only to sell the songs to a publishing company and had no plans of forming a band out of it. The demo was passed along to an Atlanta college radio station which began playing “Shine”, which became its most requested song. Amidst the surprise popularity, Roland agreed to perform live shows; enlisting his brother Dean as well as Shane Evans, Will Turpin, and Ross Childress in what would be the first line-up of Collective Soul. Atlantic Records took note of the popularity of the song and subsequently signed them.
Upon Collective Soul’s signing, Atlantic wished to capitalize on the band’s success and quickly re-released the 1993 demo Hints Allegations And Things Left Unsaid as their first studio album. Although reluctant to have the unpolished demo represent their new line-up, Collective Soul gained international recognition and double-platinum status with their debut. The band quickly began work on what they would consider their true debut record and were invited to perform at Woodstock 1994. They also toured extensively across North America.
The group’s self-titled second album issued following year, was certified RIAA triple platinum, and logged a 76 week run on the Billboard 200. Notable singles from Collective Soul included US Rock Chart #1 hits “December”, “Where the River Flows”, and “The World I Know”, #2 hit “Gel”, and the Top 10 hit “Smashing Young Man”.
Following a split with their manager, Collective Soul found their tour dates canceled and were called into the courtroom to face a legal battle that lasted into 1996. While the legal battles continued, the band went to a cabin, in the middle of 40 acres (160,000 m2) of cow pasture in Stockbridge, and began recording. They recorded into a computer their impromptu efforts of songs Roland penned, and these became Disciplined Breakdown. The legal case was eventually settled, and both parties were instructed not to discuss the outcome.
Disciplined Breakdown, released in 1997, did not sell as well as the band’s previous records despite debuting higher on the charts. This album eventually became a platinum album, and produced two more #1 singles: “Disciplined Breakdown” and “Listen”. The album peaked at #16 on the US Billboard 200 chart.
The band’s fourth album was 1999’s platinum certified Dosage. The first single “Heavy” set a new high mark for 15 weeks at #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart. Singles such as “Run”, “Needs”, and “Tremble for My Beloved” also gained notable positions on the rock charts. The album was produced by Anthony J. Resta, who is known for his work with Duran Duran among others. The band also performed at Woodstock 1999, where they performed “Heavy”, a cover of Ozzy Osbourne’s song “Crazy Train”, and a cover of U2’s song “I will Flow”.
The group released their fifth studio album, Blender, in 2000. It did not fare as well as their other albums, although the first single “Why, Pt. 2” reached #2 on the mainstream rock chart. They also had additional radio hits with “Vent”and “Perfect Day”; the latter being a duet between Roland and Elton John. Eventually, the album was RIAA certified gold. Rolling Stone gave Blender a positive review. This was their second effort with Anthony J. Resta. The song “You Speak My Language” was a cover of a song written by the late Mark Sandman of the band Morphine. The song was originally on Morphine’s 1992 album Good.
In 2001, Collective Soul released their greatest hits compilation, 7even Year Itch: Greatest Hits 1994–2001, which featured the new tracks “Next Homecoming” and “Energy”. The record also marked the end of the group’s contract with Atlantic Records.
Following the band’s departure from Atlantic Records, Childress left the band. The band promoted their longtime guitar technician, Joel Kosche, to be the new lead guitarist. The band later created their independent label, EI Music Group
In November 2004, they released their sixth studio album, Youth, which debuted at #66 on the Billboard 200. “Counting the Days” became a Top 10 rock hit. The second single, “Better Now”, received airplay on Adult Top 40 radio and was used in commercials for the cereal Special K. “How Do You Love” became a Top 20 hit on Adult Top 40 radio. During the recording of this album, Shane Evans left the band, with session musician Ryan Hoyle named as his replacement. Hoyle recorded 8 of the 11 drum/percussion tracks on this album. The resultant US tour lasted nearly two years, including shows in Canada.
Collective Soul performed two shows with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra in April 2005. A CD and DVD of the performances, entitled Home: A Live Concert Recording With The Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra was released in February 2006.
In May 2005, they released an eight song acoustic EP compilation titled From the Ground Up, which had acoustic versions of past favorites and a new track titled “Youth”. They also appeared on the WB show Charmed; playing “Better Now” at the beginning of the episode “Scry Hard”.
Collective Soul’s seventh studio album, Afterwords was released on August 28, 2007. The album is co-produced by Anthony J. Resta, who also contributed synthesizers, percussion and lead guitar on the song “Bearing Witness”. The band made a deal with Target stores; making it the “exclusive physical retailer” of Afterwords for one year. The album was immediately available in digital form on iTunes. The song “Hollywood” was released as the first single in May. “Hollywood” also became the theme for the hit TV show American Idol. The second single from the album, “All That I Know”, was released in November.
Afterwords debuted at #25 on the Billboard Comprehensive Albums chart (as albums available only from a single retailer were ineligible for the Billboard 200 at the time) and #5 on the Billboard Top Internet Albums chart. The band made an appearance on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno on August 31 where they performed “Hollywood”. They were also the musical guest on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson on March 4, 2008.
Collective Soul released their eighth studio album, another self-titled, but designated by the band as Rabbit. It was released on August 25, 2009 by Roadrunner Records; a subsidiary of their previous label Atlantic Records. The first single was “Staring Down” and the second single was “Welcome All Again”. “Staring Down” peaked at #17 on the Mediabase Hot AC chart and also charted on Billboard’s Adult Top 40. The album debuted at #24 on the Billboard 200.
In September 2009, Collective Soul were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. In their induction speech, Roland thanked a long list of former members and collaborators who were involved in the band over the past two decades, including Childress, Hoyle, and Brannon. He also invited Shane Evans to the stage to celebrate with the band.
On December 7, 2010, the band released a re-recorded version of “Tremble for My Beloved” as both a single and a video on iTunes. The video was also included on the DVD Music Videos and Performances from The Twilight Saga Soundtracks, Vol. 1.