Local “noisy” boy Craig Macintyre has grown into the Goo Goo Dolls

InterviewAugust 16, 2019Unknown source

Worcester wunderkind Craig Macintyre has gone from supplying the steady backbeat to the local punk outfit the Noisy Boyz and the legendary Wilbur and the Dukes to being a hired gun for platinum-selling chart-toppers the Goo Goo Dolls, who are on a co-headlining tour with fellow hit-makers Train, and are playing Aug. 17 at the Xfinity Center.

Growing up in the Indian Lake area of Worcester, Macintyre lived in Los Angeles for 15 years before moving with his wife to Portland, Oregon, a few years back.

Macintyre, who turned 50 in March, landed the full-time Goo Goo Dolls gig six years ago. As for reaching the big 5-0, Macintyre said he’s in a good place in his life.

“To live in a more laid-back place and not be in the hustle of LA, but still be able to work in entertainment and have all those connections, that’s a nice place to land,” Macintyre said. “A lot of my musician friends are all around the same age ... I got two friends that play in the Who, a friend of mine plays for Cher, two friends of mine play in Chicago, all these classic bands. These are my friends who are all 50 years old. These are people I talk to every day. We’re all touring and playing at the top of our game.”

As for the old adage that you can get the musician out of Worcester but you can’t get Worcester out of the musician, Macintyre fondly recalls his first paying nightclub gig ever, opening for the Boston-based band Sex Execs at Xit-13 on Millbury Street, near Kelley Square, with his short-lived band the Ritz.

And,it still surprises him to this day that he never had any trouble getting into the Xit, and subsequent Worcester-area clubs, despite his baby face and relatively young age.

“I just turned 14. My birthday’s March 1. The gig was March 2nd. When I was 14, I looked 14. I looked 14 when I was 22. I remember getting to the place and I had no idea if I should be in there. And the Xit was a real 21-and-over kind of place,” Macintyre said. “Maybe it was because I was just overwhelmed or maybe because I was surrounded by a bunch of old people, it looked like there was some parental guidance. I use that term ‘parental guidance’ very loosely for the kind of people that I was working with.”

Before he was old enough to drive, Macintyre was playing in three popular local bands - the Noisy Boyz (which opened for the Jim Carroll Band at the Metro on Chandler Street), the Dialtones (which did a couple of gigs with the Smithereens at Sir Morgan’s Cove and opened for the Fixx at Rocky Point Park) and the legendary Wilbur and the Dukes, which were massive headliners in their own right.

“For a moment there, I had three bands playing and practicing in the same rehearsal space down at Webster Square. One day, I would be rehearsing with the Noisy Boys, and the next day the Dialtones and then Wilbur and the Dukes,” Macintyre recalled. “One band was pure punk, one band was rockabilly and Wilbur and the Dukes was blues, R&B and classic rock. So I really had all styles of music that I loved covered.”

Recently, Macintyre had a mini-Noisy Boyz reunion-of-sorts in Florida, meeting up with former bandmate, rock ‘n’ roll entrepreneur and author of “St. John Lennon” Dan “Danimal” Hartwell.

“It was very Dan,” Macintyre said on the reunion. “He’s living in Florida. He looks awesome, swimming every day and always has something ahead of him that he’s excited about ... People say, ‘Wow, he hasn’t changed,’ like that’s a bad thing, but feel like Dan’s stayed the same but is moving forward.”

As for the potential of a Noisy Boyz reunion, Macintyre said he would do it in a heartbeat.

“That would be fun, really fun,” Macintyre said. “The Noisy Boys’ music was really aggressive and fast. And I could still play that, no problem. We play like that sometimes with the Goo Goo Dolls.”

On a bittersweet note, Hartwell broke the news to Macintyre that fellow Noisy Boy Andrew “Andy” J. Rivers III, who also played guitar with Take the Pain, Pet Rock, Bammies, Counter Attack and Killer Queen, died on June 29. Macintyre had no idea. This happened a month and a half after Steve Going, the “Wilbur” in Wilbur and the Dukes, died.

When he left Worcester, Macintyre decided to become a full-time session player and leaving the drama of being a band member far behind.

“When you’re a band member, you have opinions. But when you’re a sideman or session musician, you have ideas. When somebody says, ‘What do you think of this? What do you think of that?’ I usually try to have three ideas that are all good,” Macintyre said. “If you’re going to be a sideman, then you got to stop being opinionated. Sometimes people will ask for your opinion but what they really want is some fresh ideas. They don’t want you to shut down the only idea that they have. They’re looking for more ideas. They’re not looking for you to criticize what they already do and I learned that. I learned that the hard way.”

While he has a good relationship on and offstage with John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, who formed the Goo Goo Dolls in 1985 in Buffalo, Macintyre knows that he’s only a hired gun and not a full-fledged member of the band. And he’s fine with that.

“The Goo Goo Dolls are John and Robby. It’s like Hall & Oates. And, like the Goo Goo Dolls, Hall & Oates always had a band,” Macintyre said. “To me, playing with the Goo Goo Dolls is the best of both worlds. I get the excitement of playing with these guys and being a part of their posse but I also have that freedom of being independent. And we’re great friends. We get along very well. We talk a lot, even outside of playing.”

In addition to the summer co-lining tour with Train and a just-announced national headlining tour this fall for the band’s new record, “Miracle Pill,” which drops Sept. 13, the Goo Goo Dolls (with hired gun Macintyre) are certainly making the rounds. They just appeared on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” and are booked on “Good Morning America,” “The Howard Stern Show” and “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”

While every new tour, the Goo Goo Dolls modify their set lists to promote the latest record while playing all the hits, including the band’s breakthrough hit, 1995′s “Name,” “Slide” and “Iris,” the biggest hit on Billboard’s Top 100 of 1992-2012. One song that survived the set-list shuffle is “Over and Over,” a song Macintyre co-wrote with Rzeznik and Takac, which appeared on the 2016 release “Boxes” and has become a fan favorite.

“It’s trippy because I remember sitting in the studio with John and Robby and just jamming,” Macintyre said of “Over and Over.” “It’s cool to know that this little loose thing that we just made up on the spot formed into a genuine song that is on our record, commercials. It’s on the live album that we did ... What a thrill to walk out there and the audience is excited to see you and the lights go down. You hear the beginning of the song and you’re like, I came up with that part. What an exciting thing.”

This past Sunday night, the Goo Goo Dolls played at the Mohegan Sun Arena. As expected, the band played all their hits and Macintyre, who still in the right light looks 14, pounded the skins like a seasoned professional.