The Living Room
featuring E Roland and Jesse Triplett of Collective Soul
with Cheney Brannon and Shawn Grove
It was a pretty basic plan for the members of Collective Soul – rent a house in Sarasota, Florida to start writing and recording new material. Then the world we know spun out of control. Only band mates E Roland and Jesse Triplett were able to make it down to the rental in the Sunshine State, joined by former CS drummer, Cheney Brannon and long-time CS collaborator, Shawn Grove, manning the keyboards. Roland quickly realized that even though the full band wasn’t there, it was still an opportunity to challenge themselves with a creative side project. Thus, the birth of “The Living Room,” four musicians just sitting around in a “living room” making music, but the larger, double meaning of the band name in these trying times is not lost on anyone.
In a social media clip, Roland thanked first responders and then explained the thought process behind the project. Initially, his plan was to demo a batch of songs that he had just written for all of the CS members. But he quickly realized that the band doesn’t work that way. Normally, he would write songs and show them to the band in the studio and then they would record, usually two in a day. He did not want to remove that “spontaneity” from a band recording session and figured that the quartet who was present could rise to the challenge in this confined space. The goal was to record four songs in four days. They had to decide what sound they were going for, so they discussed which bands were their favorites growing up. Roland mentioned The Cars, and that was it. Everyone agreed.
You know, the only fan club I ever joined in my life was the band, The Cars. And right then, everybody’s head turned and goes, ‘that’s it.’ We want to do something like The Cars. So the sound’s gonna be a little different and we’re doing it as a tribute to The Cars because they were so important to me, you know, from their music to their style to their artwork. I even snuck backstage to meet them [as a kid]. They’ll never remember. And then, of course, anybody who knows me, if you ask me who’s my favorite lead guitarist of all time, it is Elliot Easton. I was excited about this when they all agreed and I was like, alright let’s do it. And the next morning I woke up and I got two ideas. The first one I wrote on a bass and the second one I wrote on a ukulele. So we were challenging ourselves to get from a ukulele to sound like The Cars. The next morning I got up and got two more songs going. -Roland
“Just Like You” immediately opens with upbeat Cars-type guitar riffs, keys and harmonies. I really like the guitar solo in the middle and the unexpected drums two-thirds in. But Roland sneaks in the lyrics that EVERYONE can relate to in these uncertain times.
Hello. Hello. There’s no one here on the telephone/Hello. Hello. Just working at home/I’m so lonely and blue too/Just like you
On the Beatles-flavored “The Living Room,” Roland sings about things we all used to do with one another and the need to come together as a society to get back to that normal.
With its driving Better Than Ezra-type groove, “Lucky Again” is the most Collective Soul-inspired track of the bunch. It features another great guitar solo at the end.
No more life in pauses/Not going where I’ve been/So give me a challenge/I’m feeling lucky, lucky again
Rounding out with “These Times,” another track about our world situation, there is once again a strong Cars guitar and keys influence.
One of the reasons that Roland is such an amazing songwriter is his knack for making a social commentary without shoving it down your throat. I think that’s part of why the music of Collective Soul has not only endured but continued to thrive. These four songs showcase the positive impact that music can have on a society, even in the worst of times. A goal of this project also was to raise money for MusiCares, which aids musicians in times of financial need. This would definitely be one of those times. Musicians around the world are struggling right along with everyone else. Grab this Soundcloud download and if you are able to donate to MusiCares to help out our music community, please do so. It would be a dim world indeed without our musicians.