The Goo Goo Dolls weren’t an overnight sensation.
Formed in Buffalo in 1986, the band spent years working on their craft and building a fan base before finally breaking into the mainstream, in a big way, with 1995’s “A Boy Named Goo.”
This album was propelled to double platinum heights in large part by “Name”, which topped Billboard’s Mainstream Rock and Alternative Airplay charts and, at the time, seemed to be the best-selling single the band would ever produce. .
But then came “Iris”.
The song, which was originally written for the soundtrack to the 1998 film “City of Angels” and later featured on the same year’s “Dizzy Up the Girl” album, has proven to not only be the Goo Goo Dolls’ biggest single – but one of the biggest rock singles any band released in the 90s. “Iris” spent several weeks at No. 1 on various charts, in several countries different, and has sold over 7 million copies in the United States alone.
The Goo Goo Dolls are still going strong in 2022, they just released a new studio album – “Chaos in Bloom” – and have embarked on a long concert tour.
The trek lands on September 4 at the charming Frost Amphitheater on the Stanford University campus. The show is at 7 p.m. and tickets start at $39.95, axs.com. Blue October opens the ball.
There are also two other stops in the Golden State – September 2 at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and September 3 at the Santa Barbara Bowl.
I recently had the chance to speak with Goo Goo Dolls frontman John Rzeznik, who talked not only about the new album and the tour, but also some of the tough personal challenges he faces in the music industry. the music.
Q It’s good to talk to you, John. I think it’s been a dozen years since the last time we spoke.
A Really – it’s been that long?
Q Yeah. I mean, you never write, you never call, John. What’s up with that?
A Well, you know, we’re both busy. (Laughs)
Q Speaking of busy, congratulations on the release of your new album.
A Thanks a lot. It’s been a wild ride so far.
Q The Goo Goo Dolls debuted in 1986. And it’s now 2022. Is it kind of mind-boggling to think you’re still doing this 36 years later?
A It’s pretty, yes, breathtaking – you said it. I thought we were going to make a record and then I’d go back to school and finish that – and grow up.
My plan was that I was going to be a school teacher. Then I was going to be a bartender at night and eventually own my own bar. It was really what I wanted.
Q But, instead, you turned out to be a rock star.
A Go figure. (Laughs) It was pretty crazy. You know, it’s like I give up and quit everyday – once or twice. And then I say, “OK, uh, you have a pretty amazing life. Don’t let the stupid little frustrations of handling the situation get in the way.
Glen Ballard, who is really an incredible producer, we made one of our best albums (Let Love In in 2006) with him. He’s just an amazing person. Someone in the press said some bullshit to us and it really bothered me. He says, “It’s like letting the stuffed animals in your pocket bother you.”
Q Well I’m so glad you didn’t give up before recording the fun new single “Yeah, I Like You”. Tell me a bit about the history of the song.
A I was trying to tell this kind of story about this guy – loosely based on myself. He meets one of these young online influencers/celebrities and he thinks, “How much money did you make this year? I have no idea what you are doing. Why are you famous? Why are you important? It’s just kind of a commentary on the nature of stardom in 2022 and how ridiculous it is on some levels.
But the guy also enjoys this kind of crazy whirlwind he gets into with this person. He denigrates it – but all of a sudden, he’s swept up in it.
Q The album is very introspective. There seems to be a lot in the head…
A In my head? Or my (expletive)? Which? We have to choose here.
Q (Laughs) Well, with songs like “Save Me from Myself”, “Going Crazy”, “Day After Day”, I just wonder how much this record was inspired by the last two years, when you could had plenty of time to just sit and think. In other words, is this the Goo Goo Dolls pandemic record?
A Once it’s all been put together, when you step away from it a little bit, you start to see the themes come out – “Oh, wow, I guess there’s the common thread on this album.”
I think it was a combination of everything – being locked up in the house and the civil unrest and the madness of politics and all those different sorts of things. A lot of ugly things have come to the surface during this time – and a lot of scary things.
Q Many, many scary things.
A What I dreaded was losing the connection with our fans – with our audience – and just trying to mitigate that somehow. It was a scary time, because we were like, “We’re never going to work again. Had finished. That’s the end of it. Some days.
Q One of my favorite songs on the new album is “Save Me from Myself”. What do you need to protect yourself from?
A Just be my worst enemy. That’s really what it’s all about. Just this thing where I’m in my head. I don’t feel like I belong – completely. Then I start talking to myself in my head. I can really paint myself in a very dark corner whenever I want. Then it really affects my view of the world, and yes, I can get a little bristly at times.
Q “Chaos in Bloom” marks the first time you’ve produced a full Goo Goo Dolls album. How was it?
A It was great – other than running out of money before it was done. I forgot that part about being a producer – you have to make sure you stay within the album budget.
Q Did this experience allow you to better appreciate the producers with whom you worked?
A Hmm, a few of them. How I loved working with Rob Cavallo. I loved working with Glen Ballard. I always enjoy working with Gregg Wattenberg.
I just think because of budgets and the way the music industry has evolved, there’s not a lot of money to be a producer anymore. So some guys just want in and out. And I don’t think that necessarily makes good music.
Q The group is touring for the first time since 2019. How does it feel to be back in front of the fans?
A It’s crazy exciting. It feels like a meeting – not for (the band), but between us and our audience.
Q During the darkest days of the pandemic, when no one seemed to know how long we were going to shelter in place and avoid contact with others, did you ever think that we might never return to concerts in person ?
A It was a bit like that. And everyone was scrambling to try to find some sort of replacement. So it’s like, “Let’s do these virtual concerts. Let’s do this. Let’s do this.” And I don’t think the whole thing really got that much attention. But we tried a lot of things to keep in touch with the audience.
I don’t think the metaverse or anything can ever replace what it’s like to be in a room full of people, listening to music and watching a show and being crammed into a crowd and getting friends.
It is the human experience.