Goo Goo Dolls stick to their gunsInterview • December 31, 2010 • The West Australian
When the world gets tough, music tends to opt for escapism. Never ones to follow trends, American rock band the Goo Goo Dolls decided instead to jump on a different bandwagon and address issues like disillusionment and war in the Middle East on their ninth album, Something for the Rest of Us.
"I understand people wanting to escape," frontman John Rzeznik says. "I know a lot of people who are being affected by what's going on in America - tough economic times, people losing their homes and their jobs.
"We live in a country constantly on high alert and that creates a state of chronic anxiety. It's not a nice way to live. Everyone in the country has had it up their ears. C'mon, what about the rest of us. That's where the album title came from."
It has been 24 years since Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac started playing together in Buffalo, New York, and 15 since drummer Mike Malinin joined them.
The Grammy nominees had their first big hit with 1995's Name and were part of the mainstream rock movement alongside bands like Collective Soul, offering a melodic rock alternative to post-Seattle misery and indie cool.
Amid 10 million albums in sales, it was Iris, the soaring ballad from the 1998 movie City of Angels, starring Nicholas Cage and Meg Ryan, which catapulted the band into the world. "My manager gave me the best advice a long time ago: stick to your guns, do what you do, keep your head down and keep working. I can hold my head up and say we've done that."
Rzeznik says when the band listened to the final mixes of Something for the Rest of Us, something didn't feel right.
They went back into the studio, took another listen to the songs and recut guitars and drums on to certain tracks. The singer also reworked some vocals and the band ended up writing another song.
While Tim Palmer (U2, Pearl Jam) produced the album, John Fields produced the song Home and Garbage guy Butch Vig (Nirvana, Foo Fighters) produced Hey Ya. Rzeznik says their valuable advice and experience all helped improve the end result. The album took two years to make and the singer says it was a very long 24 months. "Robby and I built a recording studio and spent six month making noise, blowing things up and banging around like two nerdy kids in a candy store," says the award-winning songwriter. "Finally we had our own place."
This allowed the band to start working on the album by taking their time and then kicking up the pace. "We wanted to experiment, we wanted to try things," Rzeznik says. "After a while our producer and engineer were pulling their hair out. I didn't want them to hate their jobs but sometimes I just want to dig and dig.
"I decided to do a lot of it on my own, which helped. I think that made the album a bit different. I wanted to build something that I felt would age well.
"I delved back into more old-school guitar tones and mashed that with modern computer stuff and created bizarre things, which sounded great. That helped me want to move forward."
While Rzeznik says the message wrapped in the album has a serious side, he claims he's no preacher. He wanted to examine the issues of the day and see how they affect people's relationships and their priorities, not scare them. He still has to take out his garbage on a Wednesday night, so he reckons other people are grappling with plenty of everyday issues.
"I write to express my feelings about what I believe is going on. "I like to be oblique enough so there's room for interpretation. I want people to feel like they are part of this music and this story."