“And life is only a road we’re on, we’re just passing through” – Joel Kosche, “The Passing”

Joel Kosche’s musical journey has been a remarkable road, one that has brought the talented guitarist and songwriter to some interesting destinations along the way. At age 13, Kosche began to teach himself to play the guitar, later taking classical guitar instruction to supplement his burgeoning talent. A fixture of the Atlanta music scene, Kosche fronted the well-known local band, Steep, while earning a living as a guitar tech for well-known artists such as Steve Winwood.

Kosche eventually landed a gig as Collective Soul’s guitar tech, and hit the road with the chart-topping rock band. Developing a musical rapport with the band members, Kosche eventually replaced Ross Childress as the band’s lead guitarist in 2003. Since then, Kosche has become an integral member, co-writing the hit “Hollywood” for the band’s 2007 release Afterwords (which he also co-produced with lead singer Ed Roland). On the same album, Kosche wrote and sang lead vocals on the song “I Don’t Need Anymore Friends”. On Collective Soul’s most recent eponymous 2009 release, Kosche once again showcases his songwriting skills with the single “You” and the album track “Understanding”, which were co-written with the rest of the band.

Kosche’s latest destination is the release of his first solo album, entitled Fight Years. Recorded over the past 3 years, the album is filled with powerful songs and lyrics that chronicle Kosche’s musical journey, and allude to some seminal events in his life. From the opening swells of “Yours To Reap” to the final crushing chords of “New Song”, this record remains unashamedly guitar-driven throughout but with a purpose.

Joel gave us some insight into his life currently with Collective Soul, his new album, and 500 Songs for Kids. Read more to find out!

This is looking like a very busy month for you Joel, can you take me through some of the exciting things you have going on?

Yeah, this has been a busy month! I’ve been doing some live shows around the Atlanta area, playing songs from my solo record Fight Years and that along with pre-production and writing for a brand new solo record has taken up most of my time. Also, I’ve been preparing for a summer tour with Collective Soul.  We’re going out playing the entire Dosage record start to finish, which is something we’ve never done before… and of course we’ll be doing all the other hits as well.

Lets talk about 500 Songs for Kids.  Tell me why it is important for you and what you would want everyone to know about the charity?

This is the first year that I’ve been involved in this particular charity, and hopefully they’ll have me back again every year. I’m a proud father of two beautiful babies, my two-year old son Sefton and my nine month old girl Elise. Once I became a parent, it’s like I found a new place in my heart where all this love was that I didn’t know I had before. I feel like I’ve been truly blessed, and everyday I thank God that my family is healthy. This organization is all about helping raise money for a variety of children-related charities including hospitals and youth camps, etc… and they do it by putting together a concert experience where musicians/bands play 500 different cover songs over ten nights. It’s a great concept as I believe music is a healer and this is a way for artists to do what they do best and at the same time help others.

Moving on to Collective Soul… I hear there is a new album coming out. Can you elaborate?

Well, songs are being written for a new CD, but it’s a little early to say when exactly it will be recorded or released. It seems like every time I open my mouth about the next thing we’re getting ready to do or what the latest and greatest project is that we’re working on, it seems like it gets postponed, shelved or forgotten about all together.. so you’ll just have to just wait and see what happens, I guess!

Your solo album, Fight Years, is available now. What makes this album so special to you, and what would you want people to know about it?

This record is very special to me. Basically, this album took about three years to record, as I did it in between two Collective Soul records along with the accompanying tours, and also a record I did with Steve Walsh(vocalist for the group Kansas). I played all the guitar stuff and most of the bass. The drums were done by Ryan Hoyle(Collective Soul, Paul Rodgers). I do all of the lead vocals, but I had a few guest artists like Steve Walsh do backgrounds on a couple of songs, and Ed Roland(Collective Soul) did backgrounds on one as well. Although it took about three years to record, it really took me a lifetime to write Fight Years. All of these songs capture a moment in my life and in a way, chronicle to a certain extent my musical journey. The lyrics are very personal and musically I think it’s a good mix of guitar-driven Rock with some Pop. I tried to show some different sides of what I do so there’s a few other little twists in there as well. It was truly a liberating experience to write and record this exactly as I wanted without any compromise, and at the same time a little frustrating since I’m a bit of a perfectionist. Sometimes I don’t know when to say “That’s good enough!”. That being said, I’m really proud of all the guitar work and the production. I actually recorded most of it at my home studio with the exception of the drums which were done at Will Turpin’s(of Collective Soul) Dad’s studio and at Ryan Hoyle’s studio out in L.A.

What do you think about the changing and growing Atlanta music scene?

Well it has changed but from what I can tell it’s not really growing, at least as far as original “Rock” music scene. I’m seeing more clubs doing the cover band/ karaoke thing and the scene doesn’t seem as vibrant as it was when I was doing the local band stuff.

What advice do you have to new artists out there?

Well, I probably don’t have anything to say that hasn’t been said before. I mean, of course you should practice your craft and never give up and all that stuff, that’s a given right? I guess the one piece of advice that I could give would be to always try to surround yourself with people who are creative and successful in their field and that doesn’t mean people who are necessarily in the music business. So much of the music business is really about who you know, and the more people who you know that can help you, the better. Also, don’t get locked into a preconceived idea of how you’re going to “make it”. Sometimes it’s the side roads that can lead you to where you want to go, and you have to take chances in this ever-evolving business.

Great advice Joel! We look forward to keeping up with you!