The Goo Goo Dolls mount a return

InterviewApril 18, 2010Unknown source

By Melissa Ruggieri
Published: April 18, 2010

The older I get, the weirder this place gets. This is a freak show, and it's time to bail."

Johnny Rzeznik is talking about, of all places, Los Angeles, the city that most rock stars equate with stardom and success.

But Rzeznik and his co-founder of The Goo Goo Dolls, Robby Takac, are natives of Buffalo, the blue-collar region of upstate New York that has little in common with the lacquered superficiality of his current West Coast life.

Now 44, Rzeznik, the chiseled frontman of the band that has landed eight pop-rock hits in the Top 40 in its 23-year career, is ready to return to his roots, both physically and professionally.

He and his girlfriend of almost five years are planning to move back to Buffalo once the Goo's tour, which began this month and plays The National on Tuesday, wraps -- likely in a year.

"You can't grow up in a place like [Buffalo] and not have it really be part of your DNA," Rzeznik said in a recent phone interview. "There's always that pang to go back there, and I know you can never really go home again and I never understood that when I was younger. But now I go back and think, 'Wow, this is not the place I grew up in.' Buffalo has kind of reinvented itself into this hip community."

The band, which includes Takac on bass and Mike Malinin on drums, returned to its hometown to record its first album since 2006, "Something For the Rest of Us," due this year.

The release has endured delays triggered by producer changes, and, since some recording took place at their own Buffalo studio, the guys didn't have to worry about the expense of studio time.

Thematically, the songs center on "what's happening politically, economically and socially," Rzeznik said, while musically, "you put my voice over anyone's piece of music and it sounds like me."

In case you're wondering about "the rest of us" in the album title, it's directed at, well, everyone.

"We're not kids anymore. We're not Ober-indie-rock hipsters. We're not part of the rock'n'roll elite. We're regular people and that's 'the rest of us,' the majority of us," Rzeznik said.

Although for a period in the late'90s and early'00s the Goo's were inescapable on radio, Rzeznik realizes the struggle for a veteran band hoping to edge onto playlists now crowded by kids.

"The radio guys seem to like us, so I hope we still fit in," he said. "But I'm at a point in my life where I don't have to chase that stuff so much. I've had periods in my life when I've had a lot of hits and periods when I haven't had any, and let me tell you, it's a hell of a lot better when you have the hits."

The band also grasps the importance of promotion via social media and maintains a blog on its Web site ( and a Twitter feed (@googoodolls).

But it's the kind of outreach that Rzeznik approaches tentatively.

"I Twitter when I have something to say. I get Twitters all day long from people telling me they went to McDonald's for lunch. I don't care. Why are you broadcasting this to the world?" he said. "I love the people who are interested in us and they're really important to me. But I'm getting ready to go on tour and have to get new tires for my girlfriend's car and change the filters on the HVAC. Does anyone really want to know this [stuff]?"

Spoken like a guy who really would be more comfortable in Buffalo.