Interview with the Goo Goo Dolls

InterviewApril 5, 2011The Missourian

As the anticipation builds in the weeks before Northwest's spring concert, The Northwest Missourian got a taste of what we could expect from the band. Robby Takac, the lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, speaks with features editor Amanda Schulte-Smith about the band's success, Takac's continual interest in the thrill of performing and what we can expect to hear live.

You guys have been pretty busy this year touring and promoting your newest album. How is that going so far?

It's great. It's been a year, right around now actually, that we've been out (laughs). It's been a long tour already. The record came out in August but we started touring in April for it, which was kind of something new for us.

We have never really gone out on a whim before-we usually release a record, go out, do a bunch of press and then start the tour. But the record industry is changing pretty dramatically, so, you know live shows and bringing your music to the people in your physical form is something that is pretty exciting these days. Pretty much everything else you can get over the Internet these days-books, music, tv, so it's nice every once and a while I think for people to undock from their cables and DSLs, you know, Internet world and actually get a chance to interact with some humans for a change.

So we've been over to the U.K., been five trips around the U.S. and this little three-week jaunt here of colleges is our latest leg of stuff. We've got a summer tour coming up too, which is going to be announced when this last leg is finished, which is pretty exciting. It's a lot of traveling but it's great to see roomfuls of people ready to see us after all this time.

How different is touring on college campuses as opposed to your normal touring experiences?

Well, I guess because we have been putting out records for a while, our crowds, the age span is outrageous. From kids in high school, college kids, house wives, senior citizens, you know (laughs). Cram ‘em all in one room and let's make a rock show!

You go to the college legs and you know the crowds tend to be a little bit younger in general just because of where the shows are, being on the college campuses and all.

Generally, the floors are open floors which are really nice. We do a lot of theaters, and in a theater the folks who have the most money get to sit up front, but in college are the folks who are most excited to be there generally that make it up to the front. It definitely adds a dimension; it's a little bit more exciting for sure.

This year will be the 25th since you and John Rzeznik, your guitarist, started playing together. What has your past taught you and why do you think the band has been around for so long?

That question, ‘What has your past taught you,' is a very interesting question. I think our past has taught us how to be an effective rock band, being out there and making music for people.

We spent majority of our early years traveling around in a van trying to make it happen and somewhere along the way we learned how to play. If you listen to our first two or three records, you know we were still struggling to try to be those bands that we were emulating. I think we did a fairly poor job of it, now that I listen back. The bands that inspired us and the bands that we were trying to model ourselves after, I don't know if we necessarily hit that mark, but I think what it did teach us to do over that first 10 years was how to write songs and how to maintain a lifestyle that allows you to go out and do great shows. So I think we carry that with us.

The other thing I think is that the world we grew up in was one of those wear your heart on your sleeve, no posers, type of attitude. So I think that is still something we try to carry with us, just to go out and do your best every night and the best things will happen for you.

As far as how long we have been together and how we have maintained, I have no idea. I couldn't even begin to tell you, there is really no answer to that. I think a lot of it's luck. There are so many sides of that, there are bands that still want to be together but no one wants to see them, there are bands that people want to see that just can't stay together, there are bands that play types of music people are not interested in anymore. Luckily we have been able to take all of those things and ride up the trends, if you will, and sort of keep our heads down and keep making Goo Goo Doll records. Luckily for us, and I'm knocking on a piece of wood right now, there's people who are still very interested in the songs we're writing and the things we have to say. So I count my blessings on a daily basis, look down the road and hope it continues.

You guys have obviously gained so much fame and recognition over the years. How long do you plan on making new albums and touring?

I don't really think you make that decision on your own. I think, ideally, that decision ends up being made for you. If at some point we end up looking at each other and say, ‘ok, this feels really dumb right now,' at that point we would probably talk about stuff.

For right now, I really feel, and I think I can speak for the whole band, that we are still producing stuff that we feel is important and relevant. When it's all said and done, when we listen to the record before it goes out to see whether or not is has any commercial appeal, we can still listen to the record and say to ourselves, ‘Whoa man we pulled it off again,' somehow we did this again.

I think at some point if we don't feel that way, then that might be a good time to look at each other and say, ‘There's just no time to do this anymore,' but at this point I don't really see that coming up anytime soon. Once again, I'm going back and knocking on that same piece of wood. I think that we have a little bit of a future ahead of us so I'm just going to keep my eyes closed and enjoy the ride.

Tell us a little bit about your latest album and what Northwest students can expect to see from you guys when you come and play later this April.

There's a bunch of songs that we feel that if we don't play, we won't get out of the venue, so we have our idea of what those are and we try to hit the majority of those. We play probably about half of the new record as well and use a couple of slots for those songs we love to play and we throw those in, too. Before you know it, you have a pretty decent set together, once again just close your eyes and do it.