Goo Goo Dolls’ Robby Takac talks Spotify, show biz, and touring with TrainInterview • August 16, 2019 • Substream Magazine
If the Goo Goo Dolls’ 4x-Platinum record “Dizzy Up the Girl” were in fact, a girl, her drink of choice?
“Assuming she was from Buffalo, a draft beer,” says bassist Robby Takac with a laugh.
Last year, the multi-GRAMMY nominated duo toured in honor of the record’s 20th anniversary. This year, they’re hitting the road with good friends Train on a co-headlining amphitheater tour, which will be followed by a headlining tour in support of their forthcoming record “Miracle Pill.”
Since the group’s first hit “Iris” hit FM radio in the late 90s, the success of the Goo Goo Dolls has been inevitable – steady, hard-hitting and long lasting.
Lead guitarist and vocalist John Rzeznik and Takac started the group back in the mid 80s in their hometown of Buffalo, New York. Now, nearly twelve full-length records and a handful of awards later, the Goo Goo Dolls longevity has been admired by fans of all ages from around the globe.
Having almost 35 years of success under their belts, Rzeznik and Takac have seen their fans grow up, starting families of their own.
“We’re busting into our third generation [of fans] in some cases now” says Takac. “I heard Mick Jagger say once in one of two brief conversations I ever had with him, ‘there are mothers, their daughters, and their daughters,’ which is really true.”
As the duo prepares to launch their twelfth studio record “Miracle Pill” via Warner Bros. Records on Sept. 13, 2019, Takac looks back on the evolution of the music industry. From their 1987 self-titled record to the iconic and industry-defining “Iris” and “Slide” all the way to today’s “Miracle Pill,” the industry “isn’t even remotely the same.”
For a group that released their first record in the late days of cassettes and early days of CDs, the sudden switch to streaming has taken a major toll on the group’s game plan for success.
“There was no internet when we started,” he recalls. “…and that was a game changer for everyone. Everybody’s life changed…a large part of what we do is being a live rock band, so luckily that hung on, but the music business has changed so unbelievably over the last 15 years.”
Back in the days of buying records in their entirety for $20 at the record store, the lack of communication between artist and fan was a huge disparity in the business. Nowadays, with the tap of a button, artists can engage with fans in ways they never were able to – a feat that has changed the way the business and bands operate.
“[It’s all about] immediacy, you know,” continues Takac. “I can reach millions of fans. If you tell me to tell [fans] something right now, most of them will see it by the end of the day…it’s crazy.”
For Goo Goo Dolls, selling records was never an issue. “Dizzy Up the Girl” and “A Boy Named Goo” both went multi-platinum, selling a combined six million copies. Now, sales are plummeting across the business.
“It’s hard to sell. It’s hard to make money for a record company right now. Everything’s restructured in that world, and everything’s restructured in our world too. But you know, the good thing is people will always love music. People will always love a great song and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
Though the change has affected Takac as an artist, the self-proclaimed Spotify guy thinks 2019 is “one of the richest times in music…posthumously even.” From algorithm superstars Greta Van Fleet to the discovery of Miles Davis’ wife Betty Davis, Takac’s admiration of Spotify only helps him grow as an artist.
“I go so deep on stuff now through these streaming services, it really is amazing. If you have a hunger to hear new music, it’s all out there for you…you can get lost in it all…it’s amazing the new stuff I’m finding, or the old stuff that I didn’t know existed…it’s not nearly as cool [as record stores were], but it’s informative. Like you’re out at the record store with your friends and you’re discovering new stuff.”
As much as the business has changed, the worlds’ love for live music and Goo Goo Dolls hasn’t. The group recently released single, and title track, “Miracle Pill” and “Money, Fame & Fortune,” all in preparation for their September 2019 release – their first studio album in three years.
“Miracle Pill” brings to life the feeling of instant gratification that we all seek in the modern day, whereas “Money, Fame & Fortune” falls under the Goo Goo Dolls trope of wanting and seeking out love.
With the new record, Takac hopes to reach a new audience that’ll become “part of the party.”
“You always hope that the people who love your band love the new song, that people who didn’t love your band listen to it and go ‘oh hey I can listen to that,’ and then a whole bunch of people who have never heard of your band go ‘woah!’ and they become part of the family…part of the party…you get to hoping it becomes a huge radio hit,” he continues. “I mean, having a huge radio hit is better than not having a huge radio hit…people care about Goo Goo Dolls, you know, they’ve already let us know that they care about us. A lot if it is about making new fans.”
Playing songs new and old to the crowd on the remaining dates of the duo’s tour with Train, Takac looks back on last year’s “Dizzy Up the Girl” 20th Anniversary Tour.
“That tour was really, really long. We were doing two hour shows, playing a whole album, some of which we hadn’t played in many, many years…or ever…a lot of the big hits were at the beginning of the show because “Dizzy [Up the Girl]” was such a big record. That show felt much different. We closed the show with our first single from the 80s.”
The coheadlining tour with Train is a whole different beast – shorter sets, larger crowds, and huge amphitheaters. Following this tour, they’re off to South America to perform with Bon Jovi before embarking on the “Miracle Pill” fall tour.
“It’s like a Goo Goo Dolls meta mixtape. We shorten some of the songs so we can play more, we smash songs together so we don’t stop between them…we’ve got Top 10 songs…it’s tough. We argue about it, try to pull it together. I’m a pretty firm believer that you just play the songs people want to here. There’s a dance that goes on when you’re getting a set list together.”
For a band that has as many Top 10 hits as Goo Goo Dolls, packing their 30+ year career down into an hour-long set is a challenge.
“This is the crack cocaine of Goo Goo Dolls shows, man.”