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The Boys Next Door : Collective Soul Is as Unpretentious as They Come


There's something comforting about Collective Soul. The fact that this simple-looking, unpretentious rock band consisting of boy-next-door types has become a success--with no bones to pick, no venom to spew and no personal controversies to wallow in--bodes well for rock music.

This is a group you could take home to Mom--she'd want to feed them all lunch. They're not going to shoot anyone, punch anyone, overdose on drugs or try to change the world. They just want to play honest rock 'n' roll and have a good time doing it. They play tonight at the Galaxy Concert Theatre in Santa Ana.

"We all grew up together in the same little town [of Stockbridge, Ga.], and we all went back to school together," guitarist Dean Roland said in a recent phone interview. "We're all really good friends. We always say that if we weren't on the road together, we'd be hanging out at home in Stockbridge together. Stockbridge is like a suburb of Atlanta, about 20 miles away, so it's close to a big city but far enough away from it if you want to be away. It's got a Wal-Mart and three restaurants, and that's about it."

He makes Stockbridge sound as endearingly normal as his band, whose hook-laden, Angst- free rock 'n' roll is particularly refreshing in the doom-and-gloom '90s.

The group's members--singer-guitarist-principal songwriter Ed Roland, guitarists Dean Roland and Ross Childress, drummer Shane Evans and bassist Will Turpin--played on and off together with limited success for the past five years. Frustrated, Ed Roland--Dean's older brother--sent what was essentially a collection of his song demos to record companies and radio stations in a last-ditch attempt to get his career moving forward.

One song from that tape, "Shine," became a regional hit in Georgia, prompting Atlantic Records to sign the group early last year.

Atlantic released the demos as "Hint's Allegations and Things Left Unsaid," and "Shine" went on to become a national hit, topping the album oriented radio (AOR) airplay charts for eight weeks--tying a record set 15 years earlier by Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall."

Atlantic recently released a second album, "Collective Soul," which the band considers to be its debut.

"This is the first one that the band really worked on, everybody had an influence on it," said Dean Roland. "The last one was really Ed's demos, this is our project."

"Collective Soul" crosses melodic pop songs with simple, memorable hooks and buzz-saw guitars--a recipe that's too much a guileless product of its era to be called retro, but too much based on traditional sounds to be called alternative rock.

"It's a natural thing," said Roland. "We just do what comes out. We try not to force anything. We're true to ourselves; that way we're not trying to be something we're not. . . .

"We get labeled a lot of things, and we don't claim any of them," he said. "If anyone tries to label us as alternative or this or that, they're wrong. We're just trying to be what we are, and all we are is a rock 'n' roll band."

* Collective Soul and Rusty perform tonight at the Galaxy Concert Theatre, 3503 S. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana. The 8 p.m. show is sold out; tickets remain for the 10:30 p.m. show. $15. (714) 957-0600.

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