Exclusive Interview: John Rzeznik called 30 minutes ahead of schedule — something which is unprecedented when it comes to rock stars.
But that’s the Goo Goo Dolls all over. The American band — frontman John, bassist Robby Takac, and drummer Mike Malinin — do things differently.
For the past 24 years, they’ve kept their heads down and worked hard – they don’t trash hotel rooms, get caught with hookers or get arrested for drugs. And it’s this ethic which has seen the New York group sell more than 10 million albums in the US alone.
John, 44, has been inducted into the Songwriters’ Hall Of Fame and was handed the Hal David Starlight award. And the band have been nominated for a total of four Grammys — although they’ve yet to take one home.
Their best known hit, Iris, was written for the 1998 movie City Of Angels, starring Meg Ryan and Nicolas Cage. It propelled them into the spotlight for its heartfelt lyrics and distinctive sound — which has become something of a trademark. Since then, the Goo Goo Dolls haven’t looked back.
They’re now embarking on a UK tour, marking the release of their ninth album Something For The Rest Of Us.
What can fans expect from your latest tour?
We’ve been working really hard on putting together the best of all the music that we’ve done over the past 16/17 years and we’ll also be playing half the new album Something For The Rest Of Us.
What’s your secret to being together for so long?
We were part-timers until around 1995, but it’s still a long time. I don’t think there is a secret to it; some days we don’t get along, some days we do. We have boundaries and we respect each other’s boundaries.
How has the music industry changed from when you began?
It’s narrower. And it’s much harder for a young band to be heard by the masses. The internet has pretty much destroyed any chance of anyone making money selling records.
You’ve now got to go out and tour — as a musician, you can’t buy into the hype and the dream of having a big mansion and a Rolls Royce; that’s just not the way it is. You’re lucky to make any money at all.
It’s different for bands who are already established; we make most of our money on tour.
We’re lucky as we can still get a couple of thousand people to come along, but it’s hard for young bands to attract a following.
Who are you listening to?
I really like Tegan And Sara and Death Cab For Cutie.
How did you get your big break?
Wrote a song called Name in 1995 and that became a big radio hit — then wrote Iris and that kind of blew us up in the air. That came down and we thought, ‘well we’ve got the ball, let’s keep running with it’. So we put our heads down and kept writing for the next 15 years.
Does being inducted in the songwriters’ hall of fame put you under pressure?
No, it didn’t feel like pressure, it felt really good — we were also nominated for four Grammys but we lost all four times. I think it’s more important to be recognised as a writer than as a personality.
How do you write?
I try not to listen to any music. I get up, play the guitar for a while and then record a few ideas; I’ll get frustrated for a while and walk away then come back to it. I take a chunk of an idea and bring it into the band and we’ll record a demo.
How does your new album differ from your others?
The album is a very emotional one, but not a very sentimental one. It’s me observing what’s going on in other people’s lives rather than writing about my own. It’s a really bad economic time and a time of war; our [the US] political system is falling apart and in America we’ve been living on high alert for over a decade. The anxiety and stress is beginning to show in people’s lives. The last hope anyone has is for a decent job, a family and a home — and now those have been taken away from us.
Goo Goo Dolls Tour Dates
- Brixton O2 Academy
Stockwell Rd, SW9
Saturday, November 13
- Kentish Town HMV Forum
Highgate Rd, NW5
Sunday, November 21
Carol Driver is a journalist with more than 13 years' experience writing, subbing and editing at national and regional publications and websites in the UK. Carol is currently the group editor at TNT Multimedia, which has magazines in London, Australia and New Zealand. She previously worked at national newspaper website the Mail Online well as writing for a host of other publications. She has also ...(Read More)