The Goo Goo Dolls may have established a comfortable niche as a well-respected rock band with pop leanings reflected by the 12 million albums they’ve sold worldwide and much-loved hit singles like “Iris,” “Slide” and “Name.” But as far as founding member/lead vocalist John Rzeznick is concerned, they’re never too far from their West New York roots. This blue-collar mentality continues to be the guiding moral compass for Rzeznick and longtime friend/bassist Robbie Takac.
“We’re from Buffalo, and we always carried that pride of the hometown that we’re from — and we still do,” Rzeznick said.
With a fall headlining tour getting under way, the band is ready to introduce fans to material from their 12th studio outing, “Miracle Pill.” It’s a collection of songs Rzeznick was working on just as he and Takac were coming off the road from a string of fall dates last year celebrating the 20th anniversary of “Dizzy Up the Girl,” the band’s sixth studio album.
“I was already writing songs and collecting material for the record. The title and concept for the album just came to me at once. It hadn’t happened to me in a long time, but I just got hit over the head for “Miracle Pill,” Rzeznick recalled. “It was sort of a metaphor for the instant gratification. Are you sad? Take a pill. That’s sort of the culture that we live in. Are you fat? Take a pill. Everybody is looking for some easy, short-cut way to find happiness and fulfillment and there just isn’t. But it’s work. It sucks, it’s hard and it’s consistent. I’ve been working out with this trainer and he said if I can be 70 percent consistently, then I’m going to be further ahead than if I’m 100 percent once in a while. There’s a line in ‘Miracle Pill’ where this guy asks this girl if she can be his miracle pill and I can be somebody else/I’m so sick of living inside of myself. It’s like trying to find something external that will cure you. And we all know that it’s an inside job.”
In addition to a sampling of new songs, Rzeznick said he and Takac will give fans just what they want — well-loved gems from the Goo canon.
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While most music fans might think of the Goo Goo Dolls as being a ‘90s alt-pop band, thanks to some of those aforementioned hits, the Goos were actually looked at as Replacements Lite (Paul Westerberg co-wrote the 1993 single “We Are the Normal” off that year’s Goo Goo Dolls album, “Superstar Car Wash”) and were actually college radio staples up through the early 1990s. The first decade of the Goo Goo Dolls’ existence found them sharing bills with the aforementioned Replacements, Gun Club, Cannibal Corpse and a pre-commercial breakthrough Soul Asylum. And while fame eventually came knocking, Rzeznick and Takac were quick to heed the word of an early adviser.
“The first little bit of money that we made, was kind of weird. Robbie and I literally had nothing. We had a roommate, so there was three of us living together in an attic in Buffalo. We had nothing. All of a sudden you get this check in the mail and it’s more money than my dad made in like 10 years,” Rzeznick recalled. “Then our manager scooped us up and said, ‘Listen. This ain’t gonna last forever. Put the money away, pretend it doesn’t exist, keep your head down and keep working. Forget about being a rock star. Just keep working.' That stuck with me. Then there was the rule of [investing] — Don’t buy a bar. Don’t buy a restaurant. Don’t buy a Ferrari. We’ve been going for 25 years making a living doing this. This has been my job for 25 years, with no other job. For the 10 years before that, I’d play in the band and be a bartender. I’d play in the band and Robbie was a DJ. We always had odd jobs we had to do when we came home. I was very blessed because the local punk rock club owner would always have my job waiting for me when I came home from a tour. It was really a blessing and he was so proud of us that we were getting out there.”
It’s already been a good year for the Goo Goo Dolls. Over the summer, the group toured with Train, a band that Rzeznik admires for, among other things, the consistent songwriting of Train’s frontman, Pat Monahan.
The group also got to open for Bon Jovi in South America. And while Rzeznick may have tasted multi-platinum success, he’s grateful for previously untapped opportunities the Goo Goo Dolls are still getting to experience.
“Going to South American with Bon Jovi is so exciting to me. I can’t believe Jon (Bon Jovi) asked us to open for them,” he said. “The last time we toured and opened for those guys, they were so good to us, man. It was a cool scene. I’ve got to say that Jon did us a real solid because he’s helping us break open a new market that we’ve never been to.”
Goo Goo Dolls, with opener The Unlikely Candidates, will play at 8 p.m. Nov. 1 at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City. Tickets are $39.50 to $89.50, depending on seats, and are available at gotmine.com or 1-800-GOT-MINE.
— Gil de Rubio writes for Last Word Features.