Goo Goo Dolls

InterviewApril 11, 2011Pazz Magazine

This year the Grammy nominated band, The Goo Goo Dolls, are celebrating 25 years together.  John Rzeznik (vocals & guitar) and Robby Takac (bass & vocals) have been working together the whole time and drummer Mike Malinin joined them 15 years ago for their first big hit, “A Boy Named Goo.” You may recognize the Goo Goo Dolls from some of their mega-hits such as “Iris,” “Slide,” “Here is Gone,” and “Black Balloon.”  The band releases a new record about every 4 years since 1995 and, right on schedule in August of 2010, released “Something for the Rest of Us.” The concept of this ninth Goo Goo Dolls studio recording is to speak to the everyday person who is dealing with war and economic hard times. They recently finished a tour across Canada and began the US leg of the tour the beginning of April. I recently spoke with Robby about the new recoding, the tour and a few other fun facts…

Hi Robby. Can you tell me a little bit about the new Goo Goo Dolls album “Something for the Rest of Us?”

The recording came out back in August.  We recorded it with Tim Palmer, John Fields & a couple other guys and did the basic tracks in our hometown of Buffalo, NY. Recorded it in the old studio that we did our first two records in when we were kids back in the 80’s.  Came back here (LA) and finished it April-ish.  They didn’t want to put it out until August so we just decided to go on the road & start a tour and we’ve pretty much been touring non-stop since April of last year.

You just recently got back from the Canadian leg of the tour, right?

Yeah, how’s that? Canada in February! It was -38 degrees up in Saskatchewan. It was a great tour though…it really was!

Now you’re back in America and you go until August of this year?

We have a summer tour coming up. We’re actually booked through the end of September now and just added a bunch of new stops.

Do you have a favorite track on the new album?

We open with the first song on the new record (“Sweetest Lie”) and stepping out on stage is always a pretty exciting moment…I like the audience!

Did you write or co-write any of the songs on the album?

I wrote a couple of the songs on there.

Do you sing lead on any tracks in addition to the great harmonies you do?

Back in the 80’s I was actually the lead singer for the first couple of years because we were sort of a punk rock band. Then I sang half of the records for a while. Now I sing about two songs on each record.

Which ones did you do on “Something for the Rest of Us?”

 A song called “Say You’re Free” and another one called “Now I Hear”

 So, I have to ask this because I am really curious; was the first name of the band “The Sex Maggots?”

John denies it vehemently but, uh…yeah, I think we may have been, shortly.  As I said, we started out as a punk band. Or at least our version of what we thought a punk rock band should be.  But then we all started growing up and started actually playing songs!

How did you and John Rzeznik meet?

John was in a band with my cousin back when he was a college freshman.  I had a couple gigs with them as a fill in – sucky guitar player!  Our drummer at the time was from Buffalo and he and I were going to college together across town so we all used to kind of hook up.  So, for the first few shows, we wrote chord changes out on pieces of paper and had them on the ground in front of us.  Those turned into a few sets and, after a few gigs, that actually became our first album, which came out a year after we got together so we were pretty excited. It happened pretty quickly.  I think we sold 6,000 copies of that…or something like that…and though it was a huge success.

 After 25 years of playing together, do you drive each other crazy?

Well, you know, we’ve been doing this together a long time and some days are better than others, some days suck, and some days are super awesome! I think it’s the same as any other relationship that lasts this long. But, do we drive each other crazy? Yeah…but that’s nothing new. This has been going on since we shared an apartment back in 1988.

 You have performed some pretty incredible places, Sesame Street being one of them, but what’s your favorite performing experience?

 Oh god…so many, man…well, we did the 9/11 concert in Madison Square Garden in October 2001. That was pretty intense.  The crowd was full of rescue workers. Man, it was…wow! We played at an Army bunker in the former Yugoslavia. That was pretty crazy.  We also played on a tank carrier in the Persian Gulf. Played at the Olympics, the NBA All-Star game…the list just goes on, and on and on, you know, it’s crazy. All those things we put together but I still feel lucky every time we get to do one. I really do!  All of those experiences are staying in the fiber of people’s musical memories. It’s like important events and stuff like that. I just really feel honored every time we do something like that. 

 Big venue or small venue? Which is better?

They’re both awesome.  Really, in a big venue it’s tough to see. Tough to make a connection with the audience like you can in a smaller one. But you make up for that by the fact that you’re in front of a huge crowd of people and that’s a different kind of energy, but it’s definitely a little tougher to grab hold sometimes at a bigger place.

 Any parting words about the new album or US tour?

I just can’t wait to play what the people like to hear and some of the stuff we wanna play.

The Goo Goo Dolls are coming to a city near you! You can catch them in Cincinnati on July 13th, Columbus on July 27th and, if you’re willing to go a little farther, you can check them out in Chicago on July 16th, Rochester Hills, MI on July 17th or Pittsburg August 2nd. You can also get more info on their website