Figure skating meets rock 'n' roll in Anaheim

InterviewOctober 2, 2009Unknown source

Friday, October 2, 2009
Figure skating meets rock 'n' roll in Anaheim
Improv-ice has skaters performing to live music by the Goo Goo Dolls.
The Orange County Register

Just when you think you've seen it all in Orange County, Honda Center is bringing the worlds of championship ice skating and rock 'n' roll together for an unusual event.

Now, follow me on this one – for this first-ever event, dubbed Improv-Ice and set for Tuesday at the Anaheim venue, eight pro skaters will perform on-the-spot improvised routines to two songs, a contemporary track picked by Disson Skating artistic director Lea Ann Miller and then a hit from the Goo Goo Dolls, who will perform live. None of the skaters will have time to prepare routines or know exactly which song they'll be skating to – once they step onto the ice the music will begin.

Hosted by Olympic gold-medalists Brian Boitano and Kristi Yamaguchi, the event will also be taped and aired as a Christmas Day special on NBC.

Skaters include Orange County's Sasha Cohen, Evan Lysacek, Kurt Browning, Jeffrey Buttle, Michael Weiss, Nancy Kerrigan, Joannie Rochette and Shae-Lynn Bourne – who combined hold handfuls of national and world titles and Olympic medals.

During a phone chat with Goo Goo Dolls vocalist Johnny Rzeznik last week he didn't give up which songs the band will be performing live for the skaters but some of their top-selling hits – "Slide," "Black Balloon," "Iris," "Broadway," and "Name" – will probably make the cut.

"The skaters are going to have a real challenge," he says. "They have to try to do some sort of interpretive skate to music they haven't heard yet and had never gotten to rehearse."

"When they asked us to do this we were like dumbfounded. It sounded like something that would be interesting to do. I don't know that much about ice skating but I thought, what the heck, I'd do it."

Hailing from Buffalo, N.Y., Rzeznik says that the guys are no strangers to ice skating …but definitely are to figure skating. Although the event seems like an odd fit for the band, the Goo Goo Dolls view this as a great opportunity to get the music in front of a new audience and debut some fresh songs off its upcoming, yet-to-be titled album.

The group has been diligent about keeping its fans, especially its large fan club known as the "Inner Machine," in the loop on the progress of the new record. Its Web site is kept up regularly and features special bonuses for the fan club which included access to videos that the guys created while recording the latest effort. Goo Goo Dolls just finished the album in the studio and have sent it to be mixed and mastered in New York City.

"The album will be out early next year," he says. "We're just trying to get the artwork together for now and everyone is trying to lose 10 pounds before going into the photo shoots and stuff."

Focusing largely on letters and e-mails that Rzeznik had received from fans over the last couple of years, he says that when he sat down to write the lyrics he realized that a lot of the correspondence was just heartbreaking.

"A lot of them were really moving in some ways so a lot of the lyrics are based on the things that people are worrying about," he says. "There's a whole huge group of people in this country being separated because of war or bad economic circumstances and a lot of people are having hard times and I wanted to speak on that on this album. I just wanted to get into these people's heads and write from the perspective as if it were me, how would I feel and what would I say about this situation."

Realizing the importance of keeping up with technology and social networking, Rzeznik says that the group pays close attention to it, especially since record labels aren't pushing and selling like they used to. The band is also grateful for some of it's commercial success which includes having their songs used in feature films like the smash-hit "Iris" in the Nicolas Cage-Meg Ryan tearjerker "City of Angels," Hilary Duff's "A Cinderella Story," and most recently, the trailer for the Jennifer Aniston flick "Love Happens" features the bands latest track, "Better Days."

"It's fun and it doesn't bother me," he says. "It's harder and harder to be seen in this crazy Internet-driven kind of world, so having a chance to get some exposure wherever we can is fine. I don't think there is such a thing as selling out anymore. I think the world is sort of dominated by this very hyper produced pop music and it's just nice when you're a real band and you get to be heard because it certainly doesn't happen as much as it used to. Everything is about being a Disney artist or something – not that there's anything wrong with that."

So we're guessing that there's no Jonas Brothers music on Rzeznik's iPod.

"No, no Jonas Brothers on my iPod," he laughs. "But they are on my niece's iPod. I'm trying to get her to listen to the new Tegan and Sara but she's not buying it. The Jonas Brothers got some kind of crazy hold on her."