Popular rock band promises a scary good show

InterviewApril 4, 2011The Athens News

Although he’s never been here before, the one thing Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac associates with Athens, Ohio, is its reputation as being among the most haunted communities in the country.

“Maybe I’ll get all freaked out when I go there,” he said, laughing about the infrared cameras used in a TV special he saw about haunted Athens and The Ridges. “(The people on the show) are like, ‘Did you hear that?’ It was probably the cameraman throwing a can, stomping his foot.”

Ghosts and goblins or no, the Goo Goo Dolls play Ohio University’s Memorial Auditorium this Wednesday night on a tour promoting their latest release, “Something for the Rest of Us.” This is the ninth studio album by the Buffalo-based band, which formed in 1986.

Takac said that this album, the band’s first studio album in about four years, diverges from earlier records in that it addresses broader topics than the more personal earlier albums.

He said that with the United States involved in three wars and the economy having been in such a downturn, those macro issues become intertwined with people’s personal lives.

“Those broader topics are still things that drastically affect those that are close to us,” he said.

As for the “rest of us,” addressed in the album’s title, Takac said this is a bit of a ribbing of musical elitists.

“We’ve never been a hipster band – maybe the first ten years we were around,” he said. “Once we got popular, we made records that regular people bought. I think (the title) was sort of a little stab at that. There’s a helluva lot more of the rest of us.”

He said that the same concept could be applied to those macro issues, such as the economic situation in America.

“It really seems like there is a very small group of people who are being looked out for, and I think a very large group of people who somehow have seemed to become the afterthought,” he said. “That’s a sad state of affairs. I hope to see that changing soon.”

Takac said that when the band started 24 years ago, it was about making as much ruckus as possible, but the endgame these days is a little different.

“It was about being as direct and relentless and furious as we could,” he said. “I think slowly we started to grow into the idea that power doesn’t always come from 10 on a Marshall (amplifier). Sometimes power comes from what you say. Sometimes power comes from the combination of notes you use. Sometimes it comes from orchestration. Sometimes it comes from pure quality of songwriting.”

The band has always tried to make sure that the product it creates remains powerful, he said, no matter where it’s coming from, whether it’s in your face or more understated.

“We still try to reach as hard as we possibly can in both directions when we are making our records,” he said.

Looking at music as an art form, Takac said, it’s is something that even people who don’t consider themselves patrons of the arts can still be hugely affected by.

“It’s omnipresent,” he said. “And the effect it can have on people is outrageous. If you’ve ever seen a movie without music, and then see the movie with music, you understand the power it has over your emotions.”

He added that music is a visceral experience, and it doesn’t give a lot of room to expound on any points.

“You only have, in your average song, two or three verses and a couple choruses to explain yourself,” he said. “The rest, the listener has to fill in the cracks. And the things you fill in the cracks with are your own experiences and the things that you know. That’s how a song becomes so personal to you.”

He said that the emotional bricks that are laid down by the musician get filled with the emotional mortar of the listener.

“All of the sudden, these concepts become a part of what you think,” he said. “Dude, that’s so powerful. I watch sometimes, man, and there’s people (near the stage) just beside themselves. And you look at that and you know that that song crept into (that person’s) life at a pretty intense moment, because it’s all coming out right there. That’s the power of music.”

Being from Buffalo, Takac said that the band enjoys touring in the Midwest and that college shows are always fun.

“People seem to understand us around here,” he said. “It’s nice to play around these parts.”

The Goo Goo Dolls have had four Grammy nominations, 13 consecutive top 10 hit songs and over 10 million albums sold. The band made a name for itself with hits such as “Iris,” “Slide,” and “Here is gone.”

The concert, brought to Athens by the Ohio University Concert Series, begins at 8 p.m. in Memorial Auditorium. For tickets go to the Performing Arts Series website.