Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik Reflects on Unexpected 'Iris' Success and 'Drunken Brawl' Tour with Sugar RayInterview • September 24, 2018 • Unknown source
As Rzeznik prepares to hit the road for a Goo Goo Dolls anniversary tour, he looks back at the record that changed everything for the band.
This week, the Goo Goo Dolls will do something they've never done before: play their hit 1998 album "Dizzy Up the Girl" in full on stage.
Yep, to mark "Dizzy's" 20th anniversary, the band is hitting the road for a a tour where they'll play all 13 tracks from the album, some of them for the first time ever. And what an album it was. Not only did "Dizzy" include the supernova of a hit "Iris," but also incredibly popular singles "Slide," "Broadway" and "Black Balloon."
Speaking with TooFab about the tour, frontman Johnny Rzeznik said he was inspired by Cheap Trick, who played one of their first four albums in their entirety at four different shows in Chicago in 1998. After presenting the idea to Live Nation as just a handful of shows, the promoter suggested an all out tour, which kicks off Sunday night in Phoenix, Arizona.
"I think 20 years later I'm a little more proficient on my instruments," Rzeznik told TooFab. "So, it may lack some of the naiveté of the original, but I'll do my best."
While they've played the bigger hits from the album in recent years, the now-52-year-old rocker admits that "there's songs on that album that we've never performed ... and there's definitely a reason why we didn't perform them, I think."
He said the tour is for the band's "hardcore fan base," and will also include "obscure old material, from when we were a quote-unquote 'punk rock' band," going as far back as their fourth record, "Hold Me Up."
Though the guys had their first hit with "Name" off of "A Boy Named Goo," it wasn't until "Dizzy" -- their sixth album -- that the band really broke through.
"When that album came out it was, you know, we weren't kids anymore," Rzeznik said of their evolving sound. "The first two records were all balls and no-brains. I developed more than one feeling. It was nice to get to express that. It was scary too, people were used to seeing a much more quote-unquote -- I love using smart quotes -- 'punk show.'"
"I started writing songs that I felt like reflected who I was and where I was at, at that time," he continued.
Their career totally changed when Rzeznik wrote a song for a little Meg Ryan/Nicolas Cage film called "City of Angels," their insanely successful "Iris." While the song was written for the movie and on the film's soundtrack, Rzeznik put it on "Dizzy" as well, because he really didn't think anyone would hear it otherwise.
"They accepted it for the soundtrack, and I was like, 'Ok, good, I'm putting it on my record too,'" he explained. "I didn't expect that song to be a hit, because of where we were in the lineup on that album. Peter Gabriel, Alanis Morissette, U2 were on it. And it's like, who was going to listen to us when you have all of those people on there? We were the dark horse in that race and that's arguably the biggest song of our career."
Rzeznik said the song's success "definitely changed the course" of the band's trajectory and it's a song he'll never tire being asked about.
"I'm grateful every time somebody comes to see me to play that song, or every time I hear it in the supermarket or in an elevator, or on the radio, or on XM; I'm really grateful for it," he said. "I change the channel, but I always pause for a second and go, 'You could be working in a supermarket right now.' Never, ever get sick of that. As long as somebody wants to hear me sing it, I will, because it gave me a life."
When asked whether a particular fan encounter about the song stuck out, Rzeznik had one ready to go, too. "The one guy I remember is a guy working at Home Depot and I came in there and I was looking for something and he recognized me. He said 'That's mine and my girl's song,' and then he said to me, 'Do you know how much you got me laid?' and I was like, 'Well I hope it was enough!'"
"I'm just grateful and if I'm not grateful, then I'm a jerk," he added.
In the 20 years since "Dizzy" was released, the music industry has become a totally different place than it was in 1998. Nobody buys physical albums, sales have dropped dramatically and touring is where all the money comes from these days. Rzeznik sees the streaming age as both a blessing and a curse.
"One thing I love about it is, on a level, with the internet, cyberspace and all that it has democratized what people get to hear," he said. "On the other level, on the other side of that coin, it's more difficult to get paid, which I think is being worked out but it's not as though I'm going to get a retroactive check."
"I think the interesting thing that's going on now, a lot of people are just doing it for the love of it," he added. "Not for the money, because it's incredibly hard to make money now."
Another thing that's changed over the years: their after-concert routine. When the band hit the road with this album two decades ago, they did it alongside Fastball and Sugar Ray, who really knew how to party.
"I'm going to put this on the record and I'm gonna say this as best as possible, because it's meant in the best possible sense of the word, ok?" Rzeznik explained. "Never in my life have I met bigger rockstars than Sugar Ray. They lived it, they lived it to the hilt. They were also the nicest guys, just really unaffected, but they were like, 'F--k it, we're doing everything.'"
"I was allowed to go along for the ride a couple of times and that was plenty for me, but man, that was the most fun I'd ever had," he said. "When we talk about it, we call it the drunken brawl, which it kind of was. It was a drunken brawl that went around the world. It was so much fun."
"20 years later, I think after-show is going to be a little bit quieter, we're all gonna call home, you know, get sleep," he added. "But it's going to be fun. I'm really looking forward to it."