Even for an experienced musician like WILL TURPIN, putting together a new solo album was an adventure, squeezed in whenever he could find the time.
With more than 100 concerts a year as bassist for the multi-Platinum rockers Collective Soul and raising three boys, Turpin keeps pretty busy. Even still, he found time to record and produce his debut full-length solo album, SERENGETI DRIVERS, at his father’s studio, Real 2 Reel, which is where most of Collective Soul’s Platinum-selling debut album, HINTS, ALLEGATIONS, AND THINGS LEFT UNSAID, was recorded. SERENGETI DRIVERS is due out June 8 via his own Gooey Records label across all digital platforms and in independent record stores nationwide. Pre-orders will be available everywhere starting Friday, May 4.
“I started to craft and record these songs right around the time my wife Donna was diagnosed with breast cancer,” TURPIN said. “Cancer will change your outlook on life in an instant and it definitely is a part of this record. Watching her deal was tough, I tried to stay positive and keep it light, but I knew she was going to have down days that would test her strength. I don’t think cancer is ever really ‘behind you’, but Donna is strong and is doing better now.”
Over a four-year period, Turpin put the work in on SERENGETI DRIVERS, the follow-up to 2011’s THE LIGHTHOUSE five-song EP which was a piano-driven power pop statement that pleasantly took many critics and fans by surprise. Some of the lyrical themes in his latest offering explore love, honesty, betrayal, spiritual boundaries and cosmic relevance.
Produced by Turpin and co-produced by Jonathan Beckner, SERENGETI DRIVERS is an 11-song showcase featuring plenty of riffs, aggressive up-tempo rockers, tender tunes, slices of Americana and Beatles-influenced numbers. They are melodically rich, deeply textured, lyrically insightful, and its title SERENGETI DRIVERS suggests, wildly adventurous, which came to TURPIN in a dream.
“At the beginning of this record, I was having this recurring dream where I was walking in the desert. I wasn’t lost, but yet I didn’t know where I was or where I was going. I would see a group of friends, and they would be driving in the desert and having fun,” Turpin said. “I’d ask, ‘Who are these Serengeti drivers? Hey, I know them!’”
Indeed, he does. Turpin co-wrote five of the songs with Atlanta-based musician and longtime friend Jason Fowler, one of fifteen musicians tapped for SERENGETI DRIVERS. He also enlisted the talents of Shane Evans and Ryan Hoyle–Collective Soul’s first two drummers, as well as Johnny Rabb, who currently carries the sticks for the band. Joe Gransden and Wes Funderburk (on trumpet and trombone, respectively), were Turpin’s friends dating back to Georgia State University School of Music in the early ‘90s. He’s known them all for many years and says those friendships only enhance the music.
“The importance of who you surround yourself with when you’re artistically creating can’t be overestimated, because you only have that one moment in time to get the goods,” Turpin said. “So if things aren’t clicking smoothly and going forward, then it doesn’t matter how good you are. There’s a shorthand with friends and that’s so valuable in a studio setting.”