Back on the road: Goo Goo Dolls first tour in three years to hit Lincoln Saturday

InterviewJuly 26, 2022Lincoln Journal Star

John Rzeznik was getting in shape at the end of June.

The Goo Goo Dolls hadn’t toured since 2019 and were set to start a tour July 15. The long running alt rock band had played a few festivals and private engagements over the last two years and Rzeznik was paying the price of that inactivity.

“I had to do three shows in a row the other day,” he said. “I was, ‘Damn, I’ve got to get back in shape. It’s really hard to sing for two or three hours. Singing is more athletic than people think. It takes a lot of practice and rehearsing. I have to warm up my voice, do core exercise and sprints to get my wind back."

Rock music is no longer a young man's game. Look at the number of bands still out on tour — most fronted by baby boomers. All of them are doing all they can to defy Father Time for as long as possible.

“Some people are absolute naturals," Rzeznik said. "But I need to do all that stuff, to see my vocal coach, do the exercises. I can’t smoke cigarettes anymore. It’s like, ‘This is no fun.’ I can’t drink anymore. I can’t smoke any more. But I get to do something that’s really awesome.”

Rzeznik, bassist Robby Tacak and the rest of the band were getting ready to rehearse “Yeah, I Like You,” their newest song they aim to make road-ready.

Kicking off with a ringing, driving guitar, “Yeah, I LIke You” revs up scrappy rock ‘n’ roll, skewering meaningless internet and social media celebrity culture with its big choruses and pop hooks.

“That song’s a lot of fun,” Rzeznik said. “What I love about that song is it really is a satirical kind of commentary on fame in the year 2022. I’m sitting around going, ‘Who are these people? What are they famous for?’ You used to have to do something to be famous. Some of it is my age and some of it is the absurdity of social media.

"There’s a girl eating noodles. I eat noodles. Why aren’t I famous? Everything is so weirdly random.”

“Yeah, I Like You” and the rest of “Chaos in Bloom,’’ the Goo Goo’s 13th album set for release Aug. 12, was recorded last summer, when the band retreated to Woodstock, New York. They lived in a house with a studio on the property.

For the first time Rzeznik produced, aiming to bring together vintage and contemporary sounds — and to capture the Goo Goo Dolls at their best.

“In the past, the live versions of songs, to me, always came across better than the studio versions,” he said. “We would do 30 takes of a song. It was interesting. We tried to mix a lot of old techniques with new stuff. We recorded to tape, tried to limit the number of tracks. The power of a microphone up to a guitar amp, how do you do that?

"That just isn’t done today. I wanted it to sound like something that could have been made in the ’70s, the ’90s, or today.”

By Saturday, when Goo Goo Dolls play Pinewood Bowl, the 4,000 or so who’ll fill the Pioneers Park amphitheater will have had enough time to embrace the new song.

“Once it’s out for a few days, people will learn it,” Rzeznik said. “We have such a large body of work behind us. You have to play a lot of those songs for people. I love doing that. I like entertaining people. I really do.”

That, of course, means the likes of “Iris,” “Name,” “Slide,” “Give a Little Bit” “Better Days” and “Broadway” will be heard Saturday. There might be a couple more from "Chaos in Bloom.”

Perhaps it will be the protest song “Let the Sun Come Back Again” — “It’s unfair that there’s one man who has $200 billion and flies on a giant penis into space and one in five kids are food insecure, or that a kid’s got to graduate from college with $100,000 in debt or that someone can’t love who they love and have to be in fear,”

Or maybe it will be one of Rzeznik’s pandemic songs like “Going Crazy” — “That was me lying in my bed going, ‘What’s going on? I’m going to lose my mind if I don’t get out of here.'”

The “Chaos in Bloom” songs are more observational than pointedly political. But they’re rooted in the two years of upheaval, beginning with the COVID-19 shutdown of March 2020.

“It came out of a really crazy time,” Rzeznik said of the album. “I found myself in the middle of a pandemic and in the middle of a Black Lives Matter protest. You’re feeling the intensity of the people. … We came out on the other side and we’ve definitely changed. I hope we can find more in common with each other.”

In fact, commonality just happens during live shows, and it’s why Rzeznik was working so hard to get back on the road.

“That’s what I love about playing live,” he said. “It doesn't matter what your politics are, what you think about all the things that tear us apart, everybody in that room has something in common. They’re there to hear the band, whoever it is, they’re there for the music. The music is a small thing, but at least it’s something.”