There’s few bands with a collection of hits as expansive as Goo Goo Dolls, and even 30 years after their first show, the band is still going strong, with a brand new album and a big summer tour that teams them up with Collective Soul. Johnny Rzeznik spoke all about the band’s history and what’s coming up next at the 96.5 TIC Acoustic Cafe.
Goo Goo Dolls’ eleventh studio album Boxes was just released, and it sees the band move forward into new genres, and back into their songwriting past. At the Acoustic Cafe, Johnny Rzeznik talked about the diverse sounds that are featured in the band’s latest single “So Alive.”
“You start listening to a lot of different music– I was lucky enough to do a song with a young EDM artist called Cash Cash– I was so fascinated with how different their world is from mine,” he explained. “Sometimes you climb up your own ass and disappear, so I decided it was time for me to learn new things and expose myself to new music and new machines and ways to make rhythms. I had so much fun, learning from everybody, working with engineers and musicians literally half my age.”
“So Alive” feels fresh not just musically, but thematically, as well. “That song encapsulates the last year and a half of my own life, the way my life has been changing. It’s about having to make a lot of hard decisions, and being afraid to do it, but making the hard decisions and removing the negativity in your life,” he said. “Once you’re brave enough to let that stuff go, it’s amazing how fast you can swim and how much you can grow. It’s like you feel alive again.”
Boxes also features “Over and Over,” a song co-written by Rzeznik and bandmate Robby Takac, the first time the duo has collaborated on a single song. “We wrote a song together, that was the first time we wrote a song together in 20 years,” he said. “He and I were always the core of the band. It’s one of those things, when you read about a person who’s like 90 years old and you get a divorce.. it’s like, why? Over the past year and a half we went through so many changes, and our friendship got tight again. You kinda go your own ways sometimes, but we’ve gotten a lot closer over time. I call him the brother I never wanted. He did some great writing on this record.”
This summer, Goo Goo Dolls will hit the road with another long-running band with a huge catalog of hits– Collective Soul. What’s the dynamic like when you’ve got a show with two iconic bands like this tour? How do you even choose who headlines? Rzeznik says it’s easy to figure out as you go. “I don’t know how it’s gonna work, we’ll just go up there an play,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be pretty casual. Everybody in their gang is chill. They’re one of those bands you hear and say ‘Oh yeah, I know that song, that song’s great!'”
That sort of laid back approach is also how Goo Goo Dolls plan their setlist for the night. They’ve got eleven albums and nearly 30 years of performances, which means a huge library of songs to choose from and lots of opportunity to go deep into the catalog. But they have to keep the hits in mind, too, of course. “You play all of them [the hits], then you go in and play what you want to play,” Rzeznik explained. “People spend a lot of dough to see you… is Billy Joel not gonna play ‘Piano Man’? I listen back to [the older] records, and I sort of forgot there was some good stuff on those records. We were coming into our own and songwriters… I listen to [older] records and think we should take something off that [for the tour].”
–Bill Sencio, 96.5 TIC