‘90s rockers return to Youngstown as stars

InterviewApril 7, 2011Trip Today

Tuesday's concert at the Covelli Centre won't be the Goo Goo Dolls' first visit to Youngstown.

Decades ago, before ''Name'' helped fans learn the band's name, before ''Iris'' spent 18 weeks atop the Billboard singles' chart, Youngstown was one of the stops when the Buffalo-based rockers were a scuffling indie band.

''Cedar's (Lounge), that was part of the gauntlet we used to run,'' bass player and vocalist Robby Takac said during a telephone interview. ''We'd spend two weeks out, drinking as much beer as we could and going from tavern to tavern.''

In some ways things haven't changed. With no bands selling as many records as they used to, touring is how the Goo Goo Dolls earn a living, although the venues certainly are bigger now.

''And I don't drink a half a bottle of vodka and stay up all night,'' Takac said.

After a few years is southern California, Takac is back to calling Buffalo home, and lead singer / guitar player Johnny Rzeznik came back to record the band's latest album, ''Something for the Rest of Us.''

''We had written the last record, 'Let Love In,' we wrote that in a little space there, an old Freemasons Hall, and we recorded some demos there,'' he said. ''We liked what happen when we were there, the grittiness that sort of came from that place.''

Takac believes some of that grittiness got polished off when the actual recording commenced with Glen Ballard, so they decided to stay in Buffalo for most of the process on this record, and he thinks geography can have an impact on the work.

''John just wrote a song as we were traveling, which he's never done before,'' Takac said. ''The demo sounds decidedly different than the stuff he does at his house ... When you're working when you're traveling, it brings in a little piece of each place you're in.''

Takac said the band had more control over ''Something for the Rest of Us'' than any record it's made since its days on Metal Blade Records, and Takac, Rzeznik and Mike Malinin (who replaced original drummer George Tutuska in 1995) are happy with the final result. But Takac also said he's resigned to the fact that anything the band does will be compared to its multi-platinum successes from the past.

'''Iris,' that song throws a pretty big shadow, one that we as a band are undyingly grateful to be able to dodge in and out of, but it makes it tough at times,'' Takac said. ''You always want to think that your biggest songs is ahead of you. You have to work from that energy.

''We outshone some pretty big bands on that 'City of Angels' soundtrack. Who'd have thought we'd get picked for the first single over U2? The more you do, the more you realize a lot of this stuff is beyond your worry.''

On its recent tour, the band has been mixing about seven songs from the new record among the familiar hits of the past.

''We rehearsed pretty much the entire record, but we keep playing the same ones,'' Takac said. ''We come from the Ramones' school - hit 'em over the head and hit 'em hard. Know one set and really nail that set. That way you're doing a show for people instead of trying to remember the songs.''