By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
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By Christian Schaeffer
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Collective Soul's body of work includes megahits like "The World I Know" and buzz-bin gems like "Gel," but most associate the band with the "yeah" heard 'round the world. You know the one: forty seconds into the pop-grunge classic "Shine," its distortion replicated in the music video by vocalist Ed Roland cupping his hands around the microphone. While Collective Soul fans marinate in excitement for the alt-rock staple's performance at the Rib America Festival, we caught up with Joel Kosche, guitarist of the band that changed the world with a single syllable.
B-Sides: Is it strange to be working on new songs during the week and then spend the weekend playing for people who really want to hear "Shine"?
Kosche: Not for me. In a live situation, how well you play is directly related to how the audience is returning the energy. The audience responds very well when we play "Shine" or "The World I Know," and when they get fired up we get fired up. We don't really think of how we've played the songs a million times; we think about how it will bring the audience's energy up and make us feel like we're doing a good show. We're very blessed to have the radio success we have, and that helps us have the momentum so people respond when we play newer songs.
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You joined the band in 2001, after those classic songs had already been established. Do you think you have a different relationship with the songs than Ed?
It's possible that Ed may look at it like, "Oh man, I've gotta do 'Shine' again." That song has been around longer than people realize; I think he wrote it in the late '80s. I can't speak for him, but when we talk about the setlist, he's never said, "Oh, I wish we didn't have to do that tonight." As a guitar player, I like the song because I can play some solo stuff in there and noodle around.
You graduated to the guitarist position after being a guitar tech, right?
Well, I'm a geek, and I've always loved the technical aspect of guitar. As soon as I was learning how to play guitar I was also putting in different pickups and fixing amps. Tech is a really specialized job, and I was looking for a way to make money in the music industry, and I lucked out going on tour with Collective Soul early on. A few years later, when Ross [Childress] quit, I was already in the loop and knew how touring with the band was going to work.
Do you have your own guitar tech now?
Yeah! Ironically, his name is Joel also. He's a great guitar player. Guitar techs are usually also players — it's hard to do a job you don't understand from the perspective of playing the instrument.
Are you worried that your tech will make the same leap you did and take your spot in the band?
Actually, a year and a half ago I had my first baby boy. We were on our way to a show, and my wife called me in the middle of the night and said, "I'm going to the hospital!" I woke everybody up, and we rushed to the airport. While I was gone Joel filled in for me. From my perspective, I don't know if it's something worth worrying about, but it's comforting to know I've got a guy to cover for me.
You played on Shadowman by Steve Walsh from Kansas, who is also playing the Rib America Festival. Who would win in a rib-eating contest, Collective Soul or Kansas?
Well, we've got Ed, who actually is a rib connoisseur. And Will [Turpin, bassist] is a skinny guy, but it's misleading; in the middle of the night he can tear it up. It's tricky because those Kansas guys they are from the Heartland and they know how to throw down on those ribs, but we're younger, and we have more stamina.