"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 such well-known artists 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:
"It was really important to me to emphasize the tried and true big guitar formula. There are a couple of acoustic moments to break it up including a song with a string quartet but I didn't stray too far. Another thing is that I actually made a point of not using any keyboards or synthesized instruments, I wanted all the sounds to be real even if they are a little bit wacky," says Kosche. The album boasts appearances from Ed Roland of Collective soul, who sings background on "The Passing", drums from Ryan Hoyle (former Collective Soul member and Paul Rodgers alumnus), and background vocals from Kansas singer Steve Walsh on "Always Dreaming" and "Firewalk" (Kosche tracked all of the guitar and bass parts on Walsh's 2005 release Shadowman). Former Steep members Monty Conner (bass) and Bryan Smith (guitar) even make special appearances as well as Joel's sister Tirza Kosche (violin).
The hard-rocking single, "Always Dreaming" drives home Kosche's ability to channel inner frustration and disillusionment into the will to continue pursuing his dreams. The title is a wink to one of Kosche's former elementary school teachers who complained that Joel was "always day-dreaming."
With the release of Fight Years, Kosche sheds another well-worn skin and takes one more step forward in a continuing journey to new destinations. "It truly took a lifetime to write Fight Years. There's a common thread running through most of the lyrics and some of the songs are like little snapshots of my past. To hear them come to life and to work with such talented musicians was a liberating and even therapeutic experience. Music is like a circle of energy, whether you're performing in front of an audience or writing a new song, it's a creative reward and that's what leads you into the next moment of inspiration."
Joel's Road Gear Set Up
My main touring rig that I've put together is pretty cool and is capable of doing a lot of stuff. Basically what I'm running is this:
MJ Mirage Guitar through:
-ErnieBall Volume pedal
-Digitech Wammy pedal
-Morley Bad Horsie 2 Wah pedal
-GCX switcher system with these pedals in the loops:
-Boss OC-2 octave
-MXR EVH phaser
-Fuzz pedal(used for one song I think it's a Zvex or a clone of one)
(Also the preamps of both Splawns are in their own loop)
Then one of loops feed off into:
-Rocktron Replifex thru
-Line 6 (green) rackmount delay
-stereo out of delay into:
-2 Vox AC30 custom classics set up clean and into the top boost channels
The next GCX loop feeds off into:
-The input of a Splawn Quickrod head
The "send" out of the Quickrod head into:
-Another Rocktron Replifex
Stereo out of Replifex into:
-The "returns" of the Splawn Quickrod and a Splawn Nitro
-Both heads power Splawn 4x12 cabs(loaded with eminence greenback-type speakers) in a true stereo configuration.
So what it boils down to is the Splawn for dirty stuff thru the 4x12s and the VoxAC30s for clean stuff all in stereo. It's essentially two rigs controlled with GCX switcher.