by MIKE CHAIKEN
For more than 30 years, the world has had Goo Goo Dolls’ music to sweeten up their ears.
Whether it’s on record, or on the band’s endless tours to support each release, the Buffalo-originated band has been a going concern—even before they hit the general public consciousness with the classic, “Name” from the album, “A Boy Named Goo.”
In the world of rock and roll, 30 years is a long time. Think about it, The Beatles barely lasted a decade. Same goes for Led Zeppelin. And some bands flame up and flame out even more quickly than that.
But the core of the group, guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac, keeps on ticking. “Magnetic,” their album released last year, earned kudos and spawned a couple of hit singles (“Rebel Beat” and “Come to Me”).
And in 2014, the band is still making the rounds in concert venues around the nation. Earlier this year, the band stopped in Ridgefield for an acoustic performance at the Ridgefield Playhouse. And June 12, the band scheduled a stop at Toyota Presents The Oakdale in Wallingford with Daughtry and Plain White T’s.
Calling from a brief pause at home in Buffalo to reconnect with his family and take a breather, Robby was asked why the band still does what it does after all these years.
“It’s just sort of what I do,” said Robby. Goo Goo Dolls has been part of his life for most of his years, said Robby. “I don’t know anything different.”
One of the best parts of touring, said Robby, he gets paid to work for just 1 1/2 hours a day. Yes, the traveling, room service, and being away from his family “can be a pain in the butt.” But, he said, “I live a blessed life that many people never get to do.”
Goo Goo Dolls are a constant presence on the road, even though they have an extensive recording catalogue. Asked what he liked about taking the stage, Robby said, “I think one of the coolest is things is going out and being a band.
Sometimes, he said, a band can get a little burnt out playing the same songs again and again. But, once you take a bit of break, and you rehearse, you might find a new way to approach a song that differs from the original recording and how you’ve performed it before. All of a sudden, there is a renewed energy about the song and taking it on stage. “It’s like reviewing an old friend and seeing it from a new perspective.”
That’s one of the reasons why Goo Goo Dolls like acoustic tours such as the one that arrived in Ridgefield, said Robby. It gives the band a chance to rethink its songs. For instance, in the acoustic tour, the band revisited some of its older tracks, ones where the records were a bit noisier and raucous than the most recent efforts. By transforming these older songs to an acoustic number, Robby said he learned a little bit more about those earlier songs.
With so many years of live shows under Goo Goo Dolls’ collective belts, has the group considered releasing a live album?
Robby said the music industry has transformed quite a bit in 20 years. It’s a much more visual audience, which seems counterintuitive for music. The band released a live DVD in 2004 of a show in Buffalo, recording in a driving rain, in front of the city hall. “It was a cool document.”
But, Robby said a live album in the coming years has never been ruled out. The band has recorded its live shows through the years.
And the recent acoustic tour was recorded, said Robby. There were interviews conducted to accompany it. So, the material is out there and available to be released if the band is so inclined. But Robby said, “I’m not sure what will happen.”
Tourmates Daughtry and Goo Goo Dolls are no strangers. In Hartford, several years ago, they were on the same bill for a radio station concert at the now-XL Center.
And, Robby said, the two bands often would cross paths. There have been discussions as well about hooking up for a tour. But things never really gelled.
But the groundwork for this summer tour was cemented in the cold of winter, said Robby. Both bands were recruited for a live performance in association with this year’s Super Bowl. The show was held outdoors along the Hudson River, when temperatures dipped to a mere 3 degrees F.
“You kind of find a kinship when you’re nearly freezing to death,” said Robby.
The talk of a tour came up at the Super Bowl gig, said Robby. And when the promoters and managers were brought into the conversation, they agreed it would work. And then the Plain White T’s were added. Goo Goo Dolls had pulled together a “good bill,” said Robby.
As for plans to follow-up “Magnetic,” Robby said Goo Goo Dolls still have a good four months of touring—about 60 shows– behind “Magnetic.” And, he said, there haven’t been many spare moments to sit down and do some writing.
Once the summer is over, said Robby, the band will begin the writing process again for a new release.
After 30 years as a band, what would cause the group to finally say, “This is enough”?
Robby said the band has been fortunate. Its audience still fills the arenas and is still passionate about their music.
But if that should ever go away, and the band found itself downsizing from a tour bus to a van, then it might be time to hang it up.
“But we haven’t reached that point,” said Robby. “The fans are pretty amazing.”
“We’ll continue to play.”
Goo Goo Dolls, Daughtry, and the Plain White T’s perform at Toyota Presents the Oakdale in Wallingford Thursday, June 12.
For more information, go to GooGooDolls.com