Goo Goo Dolls find inspiration in everyday people and situations

InterviewApril 22, 2010Unknown source

Thursday, April 22 (updated 3:00 am)
By Robert Lopez

The Goo Goo Dolls were supposed to release their latest album, "Something for the Rest of Us" last fall. But when lead singer Johnny Rzeznik reviewed what the band had recorded, he didn't like what he heard.

"We just stood back and said, 'This ain't good enough,'" Rzeznik said in a telephone interview. "We had to rebuild it and make it better. We could have rushed out and put out a half-(expletive) record. But we didn't want to do that.

"So we took another six months, wrote a few more songs and rebuilt the album to make it really good."

They wrapped up work on the album last month, and it is tentatively scheduled to be released this spring. Until then, fans can listen to the band live.

The group started its latest tour April 4 and will stop in Greensboro for a show Friday at War Memorial Auditorium.

Rzeznik said the new album will be somewhat topical, telling "stories about everyday people in everyday situations."

"It's about people dealing with the crazy world we've found ourselves living in over the past couple of years," he said. "People are reframing their lives, re-evaluating their priorities. The whole overt materialism has worn itself out. It's more of 'we've got enough. We've got each other. And that's good enough.'"

One of a string of alternative pop acts that included the Counting Crows, the Gin Blossoms and Third Eye Blind to hit it big in the post-grunge era, the Goo Goo Dolls provided a late 1990s soundtrack, including the hits "Name," "Long Way Down" "Iris" and "Black Balloon."

The group got its start, however, in the mid-1980s in Buffalo, N.Y.

"The music scene back then, it was all cover bands," Rzeznik said. "A band like us couldn't get a gig because we played our own music. But we had a good friend that used to bring punk bands into town, and we'd rent an Elk's Lodge, and we'd throw our own shows and sort of made our own scene."

The band released a self-titled album in 1987 but didn't achieve national stardom until 1995 when "Name" hit No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Three years later, "Iris" from the "City of Angels" soundtrack became a massive radio hit, spending 18 weeks atop Billboard's airplay charts and garnering three Grammy nominations. The group's album that year, "Dizzy Up the Girl," which also featured the song, went multiplatinum.

In the years since, the Goo Goo Dolls have released a live album and two studio albums, the last of which, "Let Love In," came out in 2006.

The band has spent most of the past year working out of its own studio in Buffalo. Rzeznik, who lives in Los Angeles, said he prefers to let bassist Robby Takac manage what he calls the group's "music laboratory," but Rzeznik likes to get back to his hometown whenever possible.

"It helps you keep your perspective on what a bunch of clowns live in Los Angeles," he said. "And I like having my own place to work. I could be in Los Angeles, and I could pay somebody $2,000 a day and have to be out by midnight and deal with a bunch of people.

"But in our studio, that's sort of our clubhouse. We call the shots. If I want to plug this into that and blow it up, that's our business."

And though his hometown was in recession long before the rest of the country, Rzeznik said he still finds much to inspire him there.

"When you're in a place like Buffalo, there's a certain vibe," he said. "There's no illusions there. People are who they are. They speak their minds. They let you know where you stand, whether you're a rock star or just some guy they went to high school with.

"They work hard, they drink hard and they love ya. Or they hate ya. But either way, they're going to tell you exactly how they feel."