Ahead of their headline tour and as they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their seminal album, Dizzy Up The Girl, we had a chat with Goo Goo Dolls vocalist, Johnny Rzeznik to talk all about the band’s career and his favourite things about coming to the UK.
It’s not long now until you return to the UK, other than the shows, is there anything in particular you’re excited for?
Well, I’m really excited about the shows. I love being over there. I could use a little break from the non-stop news coverage about Trump for sure. I like being over in the UK though, especially in the summer, it’s so nice, it’s great there.
You’re coming over at the right time then, hopefully it’ll be hot and sunny for you!
Yeah, well hot there and hot here [California] are two completely different worlds haha.
This is true! So what’s your favourite memory of touring the UK over the years?
I remember the first time we sold out O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire, even though it’s not that big, there was just something so amazing about that room, I loved it so much and it’s always been a good room for us. That was something I was really amazed with.
Just getting on a bus and going for a ride in London was pretty outstanding, it’s pretty incredible to me. Kinda terrifying, but fun. Going to the Imperial War Museum, that was insane, I didn’t realise just how aggressive you people are haha.
That’s one way to put it! And you’re celebrating 20 years of Dizzy Up The Girl this year, can the UK crowds expect to hear some of their favourites live?
Oh absolutely! We’re going to play some real deeper, older cuts and I want to work more of the deeper stuff into the sets.
How does it feel now knowing that the album is 20 years old?
It makes me feel old haha. I’m really happy that we got to achieve something like that, in that people still actually want to see us play after this much time and we’re still doing well. There are so many bands that came up around the same time as us that are gone.
Looking back, is there anything you’d change about that album, if you could?
Not so much about that album. I think it’s fine the way it is, I mean is it perfect? No, and maybe if I could change the sound of a guitar here or there, or do something like that, would I do it? Yeah, but it is what it is, if I changed one tiny little thing I might not be doing a 20th anniversary tour.
That’s a good way to look at it.
Yeah, I could be selling cars!
Do you still feel an emotional attachment to some of the songs, even after 20 years?
Yeah, definitely. I feel an emotional attachment to them because, they’re all songs about people and places and there’s a sort of cryptic autobiographical thing going on. Sometimes I’m a little more attached to them, sometimes I still get a little emotional when I think about what was going on in my life at that time.
Is it weird remembering where you were at that time?
I was at this super intense, creative point in my life and our band had sort of broken with Boy Named Goo, but that album [Dizzy Up The Girl] blew up really big. It was really cool, but it was also kind of a sad time too. I was going through a divorce and moved away from home for the first time, we moved to California and it was fun, but it was always tinged with a little bit of sadness.
A lot of big personal changes all happening at the same time…
Yeah and if you have a creative outlet, it helps you to deal with a lot of changes. Your work is always going to affect what’s going on in your life.
Well at least you had somewhere to pour all the emotional energy and create some amazing albums over the years.
Thank you! I’m so grateful for that and I get the question, “Aren’t you sick of playing ‘Iris’?” a lot, and it’s like, no because that song, along with a few others is the reason I have a career, so of course I’m not going to get sick of it. I’m grateful that I have anything that anybody wants to listen to.
Exactly! So how do you pick the perfect setlist?
First for us, it’s the rule of y’know, you’ve got to give people what they paid for, so there’s a list of about 12 songs that were all hits and you’ve got to play those. People are expecting to hear songs they know. I hate it when I go to a show and I’m like, “Come on can you just play at least one song I know?”
So there are those and then there are the songs that the band enjoys playing, and the ones that weren’t commercially successful, but really popular with the fans, so we’ll dig in there. It’s not always easy and that’s a luxury problem to have, to have too many songs that people know… we’ll just have to play longer and I’m not going to complain about that.
You must have experienced a lot in your career, so what are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Don’t let your ego get in the way of keeping things together, that’s a big lesson. Robby Takac (Bass) and I have both had our moments where we’re egotistical a**holes to each other. Listen to people and respect each other’s boundaries and define everybody’s role clearly. The band’s that make it and stay together aren’t a democracy, it just doesn’t work.
Those are some very wise words. Are there any goals or dreams you’d still like to achieve with Goo Goo Dolls?
I think I would like to have one more record that has one solid, big hit on it. It’s so different these days. We always do pretty well on radio over in the US and we get to like, number 15 on the chart, which I’m grateful for, because everything here is so factory pop music. It’s very R&B driven and at some point it has to burn itself out, but it doesn’t appear to be that way.
There’s also the question of like, I’m fine, but there’s so much great music out there and it doesn’t get a fair chance because radio has become nothing but real estate. There’s a lot of great music that never gets heard because it won’t generate more money for the stations. I understand it, but I think it’s incredibly unfair.
What about the future of Goo Goo Dolls? Is there more new music on the way?
Yeah actually, we sorted through 100 shows, picked 22 songs and mixed them to become a two-volume live album. I’ve also started writing for the next album and I think I have about four or five songs in the can for that. Right now I’m taking a week off to be with my daughter and then I’ll get back at it.
Well we’re glad to hear there’s more new stuff on the way and we can’t wait to have you back in the UK!
If you want to experience the pop-rock legends live, then you better be quick as there are only tickets left for their London show at O2 academy Brixton! See below for full details:
O2 Academy Bristol: Tuesday 24 July – SOLD OUT
O2 Ritz Manchester: Wednesday 25 July – SOLD OUT
O2 Academy Brixton: Thursday 26 July