Music Matters: Goo Goo Dolls treasure Pensacola gift

InterviewJune 19, 2014Pensacola News Journal

In 2007, the Goo Goo Dolls played 94 shows during their Let Love In world tour. On Aug. 1 of that year, they played the Pensacola Civic Center. It wasn't one of the biggest stops for the band, responsible for mega-hits like "Iris" and "Name," but Pensacola became one of the most special.

Before the show, Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik was given a unique gift.

On July 27, four days before the Goo Goo Dolls' Pensacola concert, "The Simpsons Movie" debuted on movie screens across the nation.

News Journal Entertainment Editor Julio Diaz decided to create a special "Simpsons"-themed Weekender. Diaz recruited PNJ editorial cartoonist Andy Marlette for the mission.

"I had Andy draw the cover of the Goo Goo Dolls in a 'Simpsons' style," Diaz said. "We also changed all our columnists' photos inside to Andy Marlette 'Simpsons'-style pictures and used 'Simpsons'-related headlines wherever we could. It's still my favorite issue of Weekender in nine years as editor."

Diaz then contacted Summer Jimmerson, then the Civic Center's marketing and PR director, who arranged for Diaz and Marlette to surprise the band during their pre-show meet-and-greet.

But Diaz didn't know how special the gift really was until he presented the artwork to the band.

"They could not have been more delighted," he said. "It turned out that they are huge 'Simpsons' fans."

The artwork is so special that it goes with Rzeznik and the band everywhere they play.

"It's taped into our guitar workbox," Rzeznik said. "I see it every night onstage."

At 7 p.m. Saturday, the Goo Goo Dolls rock the Amphitheater at The Wharf, 23101 Canal Road, Orange Beach, Ala., with special guests Daughtry and Plain White T's. Tickets range from $28.10 to $79 at the Wharf box office, Ticketmaster outlets, or by phone at 800-745-3000. Additional fees may apply.

Here is a little Q & A with the Goo Goo Dolls frontman:

Q: What's going on inside your mind when you're playing?

A: A good friend of mine gave me the advice, "When you go to sing a song, try to remember what you were feeling the day, the minute you were writing that song and get back into that emotional headspace. That way, you're always going to deliver a really visceral performance of it."

Q: What's the biggest obstacle you've overcome in life?

A: Stage fright.

Q: What's the next big dream for you?

A: Wasting a bunch of money rebuilding an old Land Rover Defender 90.

Q: What's the best advice you've ever received?

A: It was from a really old-time music business guy. When we first had a hit with "Name," I was in his office, and he said to me, "Listen. You got a little bit of money right now. I know that you've been broke your whole life, but don't buy anything ... Save your money and keep working."

Q: Is there anything you would like to tell the fans that are going to the Orange Beach concert?

A: Yeah. Come early and stay late. The Plain White T's are playing and Daughtry is in the middle. The light show is beautiful and the songs are good. You're going to have a great time.