It’s been a long hard road for Collective Soul’s former (first) drummer Shane Evans. While the band was in their heyday, 20-something Evans was in the middle of a downward spiral fueled by drugs and drink. Eventually, it affected the band, and in 2004 Evans was asked to leave, with Collective Soul bringing in session drummer Ryan Hoyle as a replacement mid album.
So what’s happened to Evans since that time? There was some small-talk on the internet years ago about the drug problem progressing, and he basically dropped out of sight – until a short time ago. Evans was seen in 2009 at the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, where he was invited by Collective Soul to stand on stage with them while they were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Hesitant, shy and hanging back a little, he was drawn in by Ed Roland and heartily hugged and welcomed by Dean Roland, Will Turpin and Joel Kosche.
We caught up with Evans, now 42, and had a chance to talk candidly about the past, what he’s up to now, and his hopes for the future. At three years clean and sober, its a future he’s finally excited about again.
So of course, everyone wants to know about you and Collective Soul. What can you share about your departure from the band?
Shane Evans: My departure from Collective Soul – those guys really tried to help me but didn’t know what to do. They were caught in a place where they had families. Honestly, my behavior and the stuff I was doing was jeopardizing their livelihood. It put the band’s reputation in jeopardy at times. It wasn’t fair to them. For me, I was in denial and didn’t see myself as having a problem. I actually did go to rehab, but even after rehab I thought, “I’m good now, might as well celebrate – I can handle it now,” and went back to the drugs and drink. I had the drug in my system – there was a problem there.
Toward the last year of touring with Collective Soul this is the kind of stuff I was dealing with. I was trying to maintain my drug habit and play in a rock band touring the world, instead of working it out. It didn’t take long before the guys (Collective Soul) could see my struggle as I was physically sick all the time.
nMC: so what happened?
Evans: It took me getting fired from the band and going deeper and deeper into addiction until I got to a place where I did realize I was powerless on my own. I went to rehab again, I got things turned around, but AA didn’t work for me.
nMC: so how did you turn it all around?
Evans: God boxed me in and basically said “surrender or die.” I knew if there’s something I can do, I’ll do it, because I can’t do it this way anymore. I found a rehab center that included spiritual counseling as part of their year long program. AA didn’t work for me because I realize now that I needed a clearer definition of who my ‘higher power’ was. I had to name my higher power. AA says it can be whatever you make it, but for me I had to put a name to my higher power.
nMC: you needed the spiritual?
Evans: I kinda grew up in the church. My parents were part time Baptists/Christians. I went to the same church that Ed and Dean’s dad, Mr Roland was a minister at. Part of my upbringing (like most Christians) was that I thought God wanted to punish me if I wasn’t ‘good’. What I discovered (in the faith based rehab sessions at Waypoint Center, Georgia) is that God loves me and wants the best for me even when I do stupid stuff.
nMC: you were in rehab for a year… it must have been difficult, and you would have the added pressure of being known by your face, as where the others in treatment would be anonymous…
Evans: I was in a place where God granted me enough grace to surrender. You wouldn’t believe the amount of shame I had to deal with. I was in this band that was very successful and toured the world and I had made all this money and totally squandered it. People looked at me like “are you stupid? How could you do that? How could you lose so much?” and they would look at you to see if you were being treated differently.. and some would attack you verbally, thinking you were being treated differently. Those first few months at the treatment center were very difficult.
nMC: but you made it through. Obviously one doesn’t want to say that going through all that was worth it to get where you are now, but.. is your live conversely blessed now, as bad as it was then?
Evans: Absolutely. God’s always been there but I was blocking him out. Do I feel like I”m in a better place because of it? Absolutely. I was close to death before I got help, not in a good place at all.
nMC: How is your relationship with Collective Soul now?
Evans: At the time, I was in a place where I had some resentment toward them or bitterness - maybe I felt like it was partially their fault for me not being in the band, but when I finally got to a place and realized it was my fault, it was my choice to use drugs, it was my choice to not be in a relationship with those guys, to not care about the music as much as I did in the past – then I was able to take ownership of it and there was healing in that. The next step is to make it right with those guys, to make amends and apologize for some of the things I’ve done in the past. I think that’s important.
nMC: how was it being there with them for Collective Soul’s Induction into the Georgia Hall of Fame?
Evans: I had been sober for 3 weeks at that point (prior to his year long rehab). I had decided to get some help and 3 weeks later we’d found out we’d been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and it was like.. wow.. that’s crazy! Its been an interesting 3 1/2 yrs for me (since then) to say the least. As for now, I just finally got back to a place where I’m ready to at least pursue a relationship, or make peace with them. I love those guys like brothers and always will. They’re my brothers, my best friends. We haven’t spent time together yet to get to know each other again.
nMC: do you have any definite plans for the future? or are you just seeing where life goes from here?
Evans: I’m going to see where it goes.. see where God leads me. I just did some public speaking to a group of kids in Jr high school about drugs, from a personal perspective. They asked lots of questions and it seemed to be well received.
I’ll be a guest at Children’s Hospital Benefit dinner January 10th in Las Vegas (for MidAmerica Auctions’ 22nd Annual Motorcycle Auction and Races Jan. 10-12, 2013, at the South Point Hotel & Casino). An opportunity came up to entertain and share my testimony with these people — I’ve been clean and sober for 3 1/2 years, I’m doing better… here’s my story. Hopefully it can plant a seed and help give someone some encouragement. Hopefully let people know I’m okay, and that I still care very much about them and that I appreciate everyone for the way they’ve supported Collective Soul now and in the past. I do appreciate people and I’m not going to just throw it all away and not care anymore.
nMC: you sound excited for a new beginning.
Evans: I am!
Many thanks to Shane for such a candid interview, and our best wishes as he shares his story in hopes of helping others.