By Ariel Parrella-Aureli

Despite more than two decades of playing shows and touring the world, the Goo Goo Dolls screwed up during its first show of its tour. But singer and guitarist John Rzeznik said if he makes a mistake, he cops to it.

“I think our audience appreciates that,” he said on the first day of the band’s Long Way Home Summer Tour, which started July 14. The tour is in support of the band’s May 12 EP, You Should Be Happy

The New York-based band is no stranger to the touring life. With more than 13 albums and compilations released since its 1985 formation, the band has been touring since the early ‘90s. Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac have been in the group since the beginning, while the drummer’s seat has rotated three times. After the single “Rebel Beat” in 2013 from its album Magnetic, former drummer Mike Malinin moved on from the band. But with 2016’s Boxes, came a new steady beat for the Goo Goo Dolls: Craig Macintyre, who co-wrote one of the album’s singles “Over and Over.”

The band has sold platinum records and topped single charts with songs “Iris,” “Name” and “Rebel Beat,” among others. Before the group’s July 24 Chicago show at Huntington Bank Pavilion, 1300 S. Lynn White Drive, The Chronicle spoke to Rzeznik about the band’s upcoming EP, his growth as a songwriter and the rewarding vulnerability that comes with releasing songs so “close to the bone.”

THE CHRONICLE: After all the albums you’ve released, why did you decide to do just an EP for You Should Be Happy?

JOHN RZEZNIK: After we got done with the last tour, my wife was pregnant, and as soon as my daughter was born, I wasn’t sleeping a lot, so I started writing. I got some collaboration with a couple of guys. I thought the songs were really good, and I wanted to put it out. We are living in a different time where people don’t want to wait three years to listen to an entire album. When you get a couple of good songs, you might as well put them out.

How is the EP a reflection of where your sound is now?

It’s one of those situations now where I am at a point in my career where I don’t have to have all this pressure. There were times 10 years ago where it was like, “You need a hit, you need a hit!”

Why it is easier now?

I am getting older and the world of “pop music” is the obsession with the latest, greatest, shiniest, youngest thing they can get their hands on. The music is constantly changing and I keep changing—my music keeps changing, but it keeps changing the way I want it to change, not what popular music would dictate.

What’s the most thrilling thing about starting tour and playing that first show tonight?

We are doing a lot of different songs [on this tour]; we are going a little bit deeper into the catalogue. We have a couple of new songs, which is always terrifying to play new songs. People don’t know if they are supposed to like them yet or not. We reworked some of the arrangements in some of the songs so they are a little bit different, and then it’s really exciting when you play all the songs people are familiar with and you can watch them have a really good time. That’s what it’s about—making that connection with the audience and being there for them. I am kind of in the service industry; I am here to make sure you have a good time.

How does it feel to play old material?

It makes me remember things. It definitely brings you back to a time and place. There are songs where I have no idea what I was writing about and years later—this happened to me—I’d be up on stage like, “Oh wow, that is what I meant when I was saying that.” You realize something about yourself later.

How did you feel when first releasing those? 

I had a producer a long time ago tell me, “You need to write music until it freaks you out and what is on the paper scares the s–t out of you. That is where you are going to get to the real stuff and important work.” There were times when I wasn’t sure to put [songs] out there. [It] might be a little too personal but you do it.

The other thing I learned was once it’s out there, I have no control over it. Sometimes it’s a hit and it takes on a very public life, and sometimes it’s not a hit and that’s okay, too. What people think and say about it is none of my business after that. When somebody comes up to me—and it happens almost every day—and they tell me a story about how a piece of music, that I wrote, helped them that is the best thing. You hang onto stuff people write. That is an amazing feeling. 

After playing your songs so often, are there any you still get emotional about or ones you could still learn and take advice from?

I think the song “Sympathy” has a lot to say. A song like “Better Days” has a lot to say to people, and to myself. A lot of these songs are really just messages to myself. Like, “Oh, by the way, stop drinking until you blackout everyday.” The song “Use Me” off the new album—I wrote that about a friend of mine who is in a very peculiar relationship with a guy and she doesn’t understand how much power she has in that relationship. Eventually she will discover that; I hope she does.

When you watch or listen to other musicians, what do you pick up on, given your experience?

When you get through the music and peak behind the curtain at someone else’s psyche or their life—as long- as there is a certain amount of sincerity in it, that’s what I love. I also love the imperfections in music because those are the things that make it special. I know lots of guys who can play a really nice guitar solo, but I want to see someone who can make me cry playing the guitar, and it has absolutely nothing to do with technical ability.

Goo Goo Dolls on a ‘Long Way Home’ With New Tour, EP


By Jim Ryan

Headed back to town Monday night for a show at Northerly Island with special guest Phillip Phillips, I spoke with Goo Goo Dolls guitarist and vocalist Johnny Rzeznik about fond memories performing at Cabaret Metro, his band’s latest EP You Should Be Happy, and managing expectations after the crossover success of singles like “Name” and “Iris”…

For over thirty years, guitarist/vocalist Johnny Rzeznik and bassist/vocalist Robby Takac have made up the core of Buffalo rock band Goo Goo Dolls. But it’s a partnership that goes beyond merely writing and performing together.

“I’m grateful every day that [Robby is] in my life,” said Rzeznik of a relationship that helped him deal with the unthinkable mid-90s success of Goo Goo Dolls singles like “Name” and “Iris.”

In 1995, “Name” unexpectedly hit #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, crossing over to a pop audience from the alternative world and fueling double platinum sales of the album A Boy Named Goo.

It’s the type of success that most bands never see. It’s also the type of success that can derail a group, as nearly impossible to achieve expectations begin to take over in the aftermath.

“I was freaking out because I felt like I had just won the lottery with the song, ‘Name,'” Rzeznik said. “And then everybody was looking at me going, ‘Wow. That’s amazing. You picked the winning lottery numbers… Do it again!'”

Despite the new pressure and expectations, the Goo Goo Dolls didn’t just duplicate the success of “Name,” they eclipsed it.

“Iris” was released in 1998 as part of the soundtrack to the Nic Cage/Meg Ryan film City of Angels and hit #1 on the modern rock, pop and adult contemporary charts en route to becoming the most played song of 1998. Later, it was released as part of the next Goo Goo Dolls studio album, 1998’s triple platinum Dizzy Up the Girl.

In “Iris,” Rzeznik didn’t just create another hit, he created one which was virtually ubiquitous as one of the most successful crossover singles in the history of recorded music.

Unlike many of their 90s peers, Goo Goo Dolls never quit writing and releasing new music and, as a result, haven’t been forced to rely solely upon their back catalog to continue to tour. In 2016, they released their eleventh studio album Boxes, one which attempts to push their music forward through collaboration. This past May they explored new sounds on the brand new You Should Be Happy EP.

I spoke over the phone with Rzeznik last week from Los Angeles only hours before the first show of a Goo Goo Dolls American tour that brings the group back to Chicago Monday night. We spoke about some of the band’s early performances at Metro, writing the 1993 hit “We Are the Normal” with Paul Westerberg of The Replacements and the level of difficulty involved in keeping expectations realistic following breakthrough sales and success. A lightly edited transcript of that conversation follows below…

Q. Let’s start with the tour. It kicks off tonight in L.A. and brings you to Chicago on July 24th. What’s it like after all these years now starting a new tour and heading back out on the road?

Johnny Rzeznik: Starting a new tour – you always get butterflies or jitters, or whatever you want to call it, because you’re going to be playing some new songs or some different songs. You just hope that you work out the setlist to the point where people are happy with what they get.

We’re going to be playing a bunch of hits and some new stuff. You know, you’ve gotta play some new stuff so people can get up and use the bathroom. (laughs) But hopefully they don’t.

Q. From the clubs to the outdoor venues, you’ve performed in Chicago quite a bit over the course of the last thirty years or so. Is there a fond memory that sticks out?

Rzeznik: Well, to me, every time we go to Chicago it’s great. See, whenever we go to Chicago, I plan my entire trip around what I’m going to eat and where I’m going to eat it.

Some of my favorite memories are playing Cabaret Metro. I just remember playing the Metro for the first time and going, “Wow! This is the biggest room I’ve ever played.” It’s such a cool vibe in there.

And Chicago is one of those cities that embraced our band before we got popular like in a more mainstream way. We could go there and we could actually make money. We could pay our rent playing in Chicago. That’s always a good thing.

Q. Was there a point in your thirty years where it finally hit you that you might be able to do this for a while? That music was something you’d be able to sustain as a career? Was there a moment like that that forced you to look differently at things moving forward?

Rzeznik: Yeah, it was sort of when somebody finally paid attention to our music. It sort of made Robby and I kind of stand up and go, “Oh, ok. Alright. Well, this is kind of a job. It’s an amazing job and it’s really cool. But, yeah, we gotta take this seriously.” Like, why would you blow an opportunity?

I always feel like that. Robby and I have always sort of been like, “Listen, let’s not piss this away. Let’s just keep going as hard as we can.”

Q. Well, last year Goo Goo Dolls put out the Boxes album and, just this past May, you guys put out the new You Should Be Happy EP. The five songs on the EP, did they grow out of sessions for the Boxes album?

Rzeznik: One did. Well, two of them. Two of the songs.

One was a remix by a guy named Alex Aldi for the song “Boxes.” And I thought he did an amazing job. If you listen to the album version and then his version, I thought it was a really cool spin on what we had done. He made it very sort of modern. It was something that someone my age would never think to do but he really brought it forward. He moved that song forward.

Not that the old version wasn’t good – I was very happy with that – but when I heard what he did, I was like, “Wow! This is so cool!” I get excited about a lot of the things that younger people are doing, you know? To just meld that kind of thing that we do with what Alex does is kind of interesting. And it was kind of a teachable moment for me.

We wrote the other two songs – “Tattered Edge” and “Use Me” – after [the Boxes] sessions. So there was new material. “Walk Away” was left off the album for some reason. I don’t know why.

Q. There was a lot of collaboration on Boxes. What was the process like with these new songs and where do you see it heading as you guys work on more?

Rzeznik: Well, I was at a place where I just wanted to learn more. So I hunted down people that I thought were really interesting. I asked around, “Who’s really interesting and what have they done?” Then I got a hold of them. There were people that didn’t want to work with me that I really wanted to work with and then there were people that really wanted to work with me. So we got together. And some of it didn’t work out but mostly it did.

I just think that the power of collaborating sometimes is so important. It can actually expand what your… I’m limited, you know? And the person I collaborate with is limited. But they’re limited in other areas than me. So if we can pool our resources, we can expand what’s going on. That was always sort of the rule.

Somebody can take a piece of music and go, “Hey, what if you did this?” And if it was something that I never thought of before, and I like it, then I’d be like, “Alright. Yeah, let’s do it.”

Q. When you phrase it like that, that you want to learn, it makes me think back to the Superstar Car Wash album [in 1993]. Looking back at that, and your writing with Paul Westerberg, the Goo Goo Dolls were headed in kind of a direction at that point that he had already been with The Replacements in terms of moving from a certain sound on the early records to one more embracing of song structure which started to touch on ballads a bit. Were you able to learn from that experience? What was it like writing with Paul?

(*** Editor’s note: Rzeznik wrote the music for “We Are the Normal” and Westerberg wrote the words via a collaboration based on exchange of ideas shared through the U.S. mail)

Rzeznik: I mean, we did the whole thing through the mail. We were never in the same room with each other.

It was typical of what that guy’s all about. You do something really cool, he gets excited and then… writes you a nasty letter saying don’t talk to me. It’s typical for that guy. But I’m no different than any of the other people in that guy’s life I suppose.

But we wrote a great song together. Though it was through corresponding through the mail – which I think is f—–g hilarious. It was a much slower process back then.

It was one of those things. But that was when I realized, “You know, this guy has been a big influence on me.” As well as bands like Echo & The Bunnymen and The Cure and The Clash.

Soul Asylum and Husker Du. I was always into sort of that midwestern alternative rock.

R.E.M. and all these bands were big influences on us. That’s when I realized, you have to grow beyond your influences. And that was a liberating feeling. To start writing songs where it was like, “Wow, I’m moving past that.”

Q. You grew up with the album and Goo Goo Dolls sort of hit during what looks now to have been kind of the last hurrah, so to speak, for that format in the mid to late 90s. How does it feel to be part of a new era now where the album is no longer a necessity and you can kind of just release songs as you finish them? Are you able to embrace that?

Rzeznik: I love it. I hated the fact that we had to wait like three years to put a record out. You gotta sit down and write twelve songs.

What I love about it is the moment it hits me, I can make a phone call, get in the studio, get together with the band, lay the track down and then boom – a week later I can have it up on iTunes, YouTube or whatever.

So the immediacy of it I think is great. And because the world has changed so much, well, you better be immediate with things. Because people don’t have the attention span to wait three years for a record.

Q. You mentioned earlier the amount of detail that you guys put into making sure the setlist is right. So many of your 90s peers have to rely on full performances of the back catalog but you guys literally never stopped releasing new music. So how difficult is it to put that setlist together and decide how much nostalgia is too much?

Rzeznik: Well… Anything that was like a legitimate hit – like hit the top ten or top fifteen on the charts – anything that’s a legitimate hit. We’ve got fourteen songs like that. Maybe twelve or thirteen songs. You absolutely have to play those songs. Because people are paying money to come and see you play and they want to hear the songs that they know and love. And there’s something really fun about that.

And, yeah, there’s a certain amount of nostalgia to that but our audience has been really, really accepting of watching us grow and put out new material. And the feedback for that material has been really, really positive.

For the most part.

Obviously, you’re going to get emails from people that are like, “Play something off Jed! Your new music sucks!” You get s–t like that. But it’s like, who cares?

Q. The level of success Goo Goo Dolls hit with a song like “Name” is something that most bands never get to experience. And it’s the kind of success that can put an early end to a lot of bands. Then you guys went out and exceeded that success with “Iris” only a few years later. How difficult was it to try and look at your career with reasonable expectations at that point and, looking back now, how hard was it avoiding some of the pitfalls that type of success can tend to bring?

Rzeznik: I’ll tell you what, there were two things that I had going for me: Robby and my manager Pat [Magnarella].

They made everything very pragmatic. They kept everything very down to earth. I was freaking out. I was freaking out because I felt like I had just won the lottery with the song, “Name.” And then everybody was looking at me going, “Wow. That’s amazing. You picked the winning lottery numbers… Do it again!”

They helped me realize, “Look, right now, it’s luck.” When you have one hit, it’s luck. When you have two hits, it’s equal parts luck and skill (laughs). But then you go on to three or four or seven or ten. And then you’re like, “Ok, yes. There is luck. But there is some skill involved in this.” There’s more skill than luck involved in it. And it goes into the old saying, “The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

So it was Pat and Robby. And myself being from Buffalo.

When you grow up in Buffalo, there’s only so pretentious you can be. And people from Buffalo aren’t allowed to have nervous breakdowns. I’m sorry, if you have a nervous breakdown in the middle of winter in Buffalo, you’re gonna die. They’re gonna find you in a snow bank in April (laughs). You know? So we weren’t allowed to have a nervous breakdown.

Now… did we have problems with substance abuse and relationships and every other thing? And did we lose friends? Yeah.

Yeah, the success definitely cost something.

But the point was we were all still close with each other and still had each other’s best interests at heart. Even in the worst of the times that came later. And we got through all those bad times and then we got over our problems and decided that we still had something that was worth doing.

And I’m grateful every day that I still get to do it. And I’m grateful every day that those guys are in my life.

– Jim Ryan ( @RadioJimRyan )

(Details on Monday’s Goo Goo Dolls show at Northerly Island below)

Monday, July 24, 2017
Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island
All ages
Also performing: Phillip Phillips
Tickets: $29.50 – $99.50

Click here to purchase tickets

Q&A Interview With Johnny Rzeznik: A Goo Goo Dolls Concert Preview (Monday, July 24, 2017 With Phillip Phillips At Huntington Bank Pavilion At Northerly Island)

Peoria Journal Star – ‘You Should Be Happy,’ Goo Goo Dolls perform on the Peoria riverfront Thursday

By Thomas Bruch

The hitmaking prowess of the alternative rock band the Goo Goo Dolls is a little staggering in hindsight.

In a span of time from the mid-1990s all the way to 2007, the Goo Goo Dolls notched 10 singles that climbed into the “Billboard” Top 100, including several that peaked in the Top 10. The titles of these tracks were ubiquitous: “Iris,” “Name,” Slide,” “Here Is Gone,” “Better Days.”

What was it like being on the writing end of all these hits?

“There were moments when I said, ‘Wow’,” recalled Robby Takac, the vocalist and bassist of the band, singling out the song “Name” in particular. “If you’re doing it, you’re saying that to yourself numerous times every record.”

The hits have dried up for the band but not the recording spirit. Since the last album featuring multiple hit singles, 2006′s “Let Love In,” the Goo Goo Dolls have released three albums of new material that have mostly registered as a nondescript blip on the music industry radar.

When the band performs on the Peoria riverfront this Thursday, the crowd will witness a band entering its fourth decade together in varying forms. Takac and guitarist John Rzeznik have been the sole constants dating all the way back to the 1980s, when the band’s sound didn’t reflect its future hits and could easily be characterized as punk rock.

Though there was an edge to those early songs, Takac said he never thought the tonal shifts in the songs to be out of the ordinary. He expressed his fondness for bands that were popular in the 1980s — The Replacements and Husker Du — that moved from loud rock songs to softer acoustic ones as a norm.

“To us, it was never that strange,” Takac said.

The process of writing songs and making records isn’t any easier now for the band, but Takac posited that it was a much less stressful experience. The writing was a little more haphazard in those salad days, with dozens of half-formed ideas and structures. Now, the songs are more fully realized going into recording, and there’s an abundance of them. The band hit the studio a year after the 2016 album “Boxes” to record an EP, titled “You Should Be Happy,” just to have a few new songs to play on its current tour.

But the Goo Goo Dolls carry a trove of recognizable songs to every live performance. For many of those songs, Takac and Rzeznik have been playing them for the better part of 20 years, and they’ve grown as songs as the band has aged. Takac noticed earlier this year that the songs sound differently to him now. He admitted that it was almost more helpful to practice those songs being guided by people’s recorded videos on YouTube than listening to the album version. And the perspective on the song changes in each venue.

“If you can’t pull the joy out of the moment that’s going on in that room, then I think you’re missing the point of this whole thing,” Takac said of playing the big hits. “The song is one thing, but the moment that song creates is different every night. And it never really gets old playing those songs because you feel part of it with the folks that are out there participating with you.”

Thomas Bruch can be reached at 686-3262 or Follow him on Twitter @ThomasBruch.

Goo Goo Dolls Perform on the Peoria Riverfront

Goo Goo Dolls to Play the Big Fresno Fair on October 9th

Fair Adds Four Entertainers to Concert Line-Up!

The Big Fresno Fair is excited to announce that rock group Goo Goo Dolls, famed R&B duo Ja Rule & Ashanti, as well as rapper and actor Ice Cube have been added to the incredible Table Mountain Concert Series line-up in the Paul Paul Theater, presented by Coors Light, Toyota and Xfinity!

Want to become a Big Fair Fan Club member and get exclusive access to concert tickets before anyone else? Sign up today to take advantage of our exclusive Concert and Horse Racing pre-sale beginning Tues., 8/1 through Sun., 8/13, available to BFF Club Members only. PLUS- the Fair will be offering a 50% discounted single adult admission ticket with the purchase of each concert ticket! Concert and discounted admission must be purchased in the same transaction. The offer will only last until Sun, 8/13! Not a Big Fair Fan Club Member? Sign up today!

Fair Adds Four Entertainers to Concert Lineup


Goo Goo Dolls will play the third of three nights of music at the Safeway Open in October, organizers announced Thursday.

“We are excited to bring in Goo Goo Dolls to play Saturday night at the Safeway Concert Series,” said Jeff Sanders, executive director of the Safeway Open. “We stepped up the music this year and we know everyone who comes out to the event is going to have a great time.”

Goo Goo Dolls will play after golf action wraps up on Saturday, Oct. 7. They join the previously announced pop singer Gavin DeGraw, who will play Oct. 5, and alternative favorite Weezer, which plays Oct. 6.

Goo Goo Dolls have been performing for more than 30 years, but they hit national success in the 1990s with the albums “Superstar Car Wash” and “A Boy Named Goo.” Their status as an arena rock favorite was cemented with the 1998 single “Iris,” which was nominated for a Grammy.

The band has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide and has had 19 top-10 singles. Their latest album is “You Should Be Happy,” released earlier this year.

In 2016, the Safeway Open Concert Series featured X Ambassadors, Charles Kelley from Lady Antebellum and Third Eye Blind, each performing on the Mansion Lawn in front of Silverado Resort and Spa. The shows were well attended despite unseasonably rainy weather for October in Napa.

Daily tickets to the Safeway Open PGA Tour event are on sale now and include admission to the Safeway Open Concert Series, the 27,000-square-foot Safeway Food and Wine Pavilion and on-site food, wine, beer and spirits venues.

The event is in its second year with Safeway as the title sponsor and hosts many of the best golfers in the world as they compete Thursday–Sunday for a $6.2 million purse, with $1.116 million to the winner.

In 2016, the player field of 144 golfers included elite players such as Phil Mickelson, Matt Kuchar, Justin Thomas, Webb Simpson and Paul Casey. So far Mickelson has committed to return for 2017. More announcements are expected through the summer.

The Safeway Open and Safeway Open Concert Series are managed by Lagardère Sports. For more information on the Safeway Open and Safeway Open Concert Series or to purchase tickets, visit

Tickets can be purchased here : Safeway Open Tickets 

Goo Goo Dolls Round Out Safeway Open Music Lineup



Band Celebrates Music Gives to St. Jude Kids Day on August 4 with $422,800 Donation to Fundraising Campaign

MEMPHIS, Tenn.July 20, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Goo Goo Dolls, the Buffalo-based rock band that has sold millions of albums for more than 20 years, named St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital as its charity of choice with donations totaling $422,800 and a new fundraising campaign to support Music Gives to St. Jude Kids Day.

The band’s gift will benefit Music Gives to St. Jude Kids, a program led by Jason Thomas Gordon, musician and grandson of St. Jude founder, Danny Thomas. Gordon created this year-round initiative which informs, inspires and engages artists, their fans and the entertainment industry to support the mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital: Finding Cures. Saving children.®  

On August 4, 2017, St. Jude will present Music Gives to St. Jude Kids Day, an inaugural event that will allow bands, fans and venues all across the United States to show their support and raise funds and awareness for the patients and families of St. Jude.

“We absolutely love St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, its awe-inspiring mission, and look forward to helping Music Gives to St. Jude Kids Day in August,” said John Rzeznik, Goo Goo Dolls lead singer. “It’s an honor for us to play a role, however small, in helping St. Jude find cures and save children’s lives.”

John Rzeznik and bandmate Robby Takac have both visited the St. Jude campus, meeting with patients and their families. The group has also involved fans in their support of St. Jude by selling autographed guitars and drumheads during their 2016 tour in support of their most recent album, Boxes. Proceeds from those sales were donated directly to St. Jude.

“I want to extend our sincerest thanks to the Goo Goo Dolls for their generous and ongoing support of the Music Gives to St. Jude Kids campaign,” said Richard Shadyac Jr., President and CEO of ALSAC, the fundraising and awareness organization for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We are honored to be the band’s charity of choice and look forward to working with them and their fans for many years to come.”

About Music Gives to St. Jude Kids 
Music Gives to St. Jude Kids mobilizes the music community — artists, fans, corporate partners and sponsors — to join us in the fight against childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases to raise funds and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital®. St. Jude has a long history of support from the music industry that goes back to the hospital’s beginning in 1962 when our founder, Danny Thomas, called on entertainers such as Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles and more to join his cause. Since then, numerous artists and musicians have visited the hospital in support of the St. Jude mission and Danny’s belief that no child should die in the dawn of life. Jason Thomas Gordon, grandson of Danny Thomas and lead singer of the band Kingsize, created Music Gives to St. Jude Kids to continue to bring St. Jude and music together to further his family’s legacy and make a difference in the lives of the kids of St. Jude.

About St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 
St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and defeats childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. Treatments invented at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude is working to drive the overall survival rate for childhood cancer to 90 percent, and we won’t stop until no child dies from cancer. St. Jude freely shares the discoveries it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food – because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. Join the St. Jude mission by visiting, liking St. Jude on Facebook ( and following us on Twitter (@stjude).

SOURCE ALSAC/St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital 



By Stephanie Mason

When Phillip Phillips first introduced his talent to the world in a season 11 audition of American Idol, Paula Abdul described the artist as “electrifying.” During his performance at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre on July 18, it was clear that adjective deserves a few more volts to truly describe the artist’s talent.

Though he has not released a new album since Behind The Light in 2014, Phillips shocked the crowd with new versions of popular songs. The audience was polite but seemingly detached from the music until chart topping “Gone, Gone, Gone” brought the listeners to their feet. The amphitheatre echoed with the sound of the crowd singing along to the pop hit. But, it wasn’t until the revamped conclusion to the song that Phillips came alive. Energy noticeably pulsed from his feet to his guitar strings. Each member of Phillips’ band expanded upon the same energy as they each took on a solo that shook the crowd.

he adrenaline from that performance gave both the band and the audience continuous energy and positivity throughout the remainder of the set. “Let em’ rip,” Phillips said, “I see y’all getting up to dance.” He traded in his acoustic guitar for an electric to perform a catchy, unreleased song titled “Magnetic.” The song, again, led to a vibrant performance from the entire band. Phillips’ body rolled and morphed with the energy of the music.

The highlight of the performance was Phillips’ cover of the Hall & Oates song, “Maneater.” The haunting vocals paired with a chilling electric cello melody. As the song progressed, the energy evolved into a passionate force that distorted the singer’s face with fervor.

As Phillips left the stage, he received a standing ovation from the crowd. It was clear that the artist still had the same spark that initially surged his talent to the world. 

As the orange sherbert sunset haloing the stage faded into a muted violet, an introduction of rhythmic music silenced the chattering crowd. Anticipation was relieved as the silhouettes of the Goo Goo Dolls band members found their places on the dark stage, lifting the entire amphitheatre to their feet. Their introduction song, “Tattered Edge / You Should Be Happy,” was followed by the crowd pleasing, “Home.”

The crowd’s energy erupted once the band played the first notes of “Slide.” “So you know this one — you better sing it with me then,” said John Rzeznik, the band’s frontman. The entire amphitheatre continued to dance to the next few songs, reflecting the enormous energy on stage. The music ignited passion from multiple generations as young children twirled and jumped and elderly attendees swayed with their eyes closed. It was clear that The Goo Goo Dolls, a band formed in 1986, has vastly influenced loyal fans for decades and continues to draw new listeners.

The Goo Goo Dolls played new releases, including “So Alive,” off their newest album, Boxes, which was released in 2016. But they did not forget to satisfy the crowd with classic favorites “Iris,” “Name,” “Let Love in” and “Better Days.”

After 32 years of creating and performing music,  Rzeznik and the band’s bassist and vocalist, Robby Takac refuse to slow down. Takac ran across the stage throughout the performance, picking through bass beats, while Rzeznik delivered lyrics and cherished guitar riffs to the audience. The decades of performing have clearly brought the band closer to perfecting their show. “I want everybody to be happy,” Rzeznik said. “I’m a people pleaser.”

However, there were a few upsets on stage. While singing lead vocals, Takac’s voice got lost in the music and lacked clarity, especially while singing “Lucky Star.” Towards the end of the night, Rzeznik’s mic seemed to be acting up, leading to him rolling the mic off stage and seemingly yelling in frustration at the crew member who put it back on the stand.

These small hiccups seemed minute when compared to the entire performance. “Bands are like Santa Claus,” Rzeznik said. “If you don’t believe in this shit, it doesn’t exist.” And, by the end of the night, everyone was a believer.

Goo Goo Dolls “Let Love In” at Fiddler’s Green


By Olivia Jerram

As a genre, rock ‘n’ roll is steeped in presentation: the flashing, undulating lights; the excessive pelvis-thrusting showmanship resplendent in guitar solos; the long hair and headbanging; the blaring volume. But there are, submerged below this surface flashiness, small doses of substance — lyrical specificity, authentic concert dialogue, undeniable musical talent.

What years of experience performing often does for a rock band is increase its polish and diminish its rambunctiousness. The Goo Goo Dolls has been playing since its 1986 formation in Buffalo, New York, and as such, Friday night’s performance at Shoreline Amphitheatre — the first of the band’s summer tour — should have been characterized by an air of professionalism.

And half of it was: vocalist and guitarist John Rzeznik strode around with a performative soft-rock coolness and sense of superiority, around which vocalist and bassist Robby Takac zig-zagged, skipping in his socks and grinning nonstop. They worked as a polarized tag team, playing through the band’s discography in no particular order. They opened with a smashing performance of the top track of the band’s newly released EP You Should Be Happy — all pounding drums and heavy guitar fuzz, lyrically propelled by the gentle strain of Rzeznik’s voice — and then slowly played back to songs timestamped with different notches of fame.

Takac commented on the band’s initial concept of fame in an interview with The Daily Californian. “The bands we loved, you know, our heroes, were selling 10,000 to 15,000 records at the time; they weren’t huge bands,” Takac said. “(So) we didn’t have enormous expectations or anything other than we just wanted to play music and have fun and go out with our friends.”

Takac continued, explaining the importance of 1993’s Superstar Car Wash in giving the band its first charting single “Name” but not yet putting the band entirely on the map. “The song got big but the band really didn’t,” Takac said. “We had a bus and stuff but we were still playing to 200 to 300 people. It didn’t look like a career.”

The band’s performance of “Name” — midway through the set at Shoreline — was introduced by Rzeznik, leaning off the edge of the stage to study the front row of the crowd. He addressed an ear-plugged four-year-old, saying, “This song is much older than you are. … Just because it’s old doesn’t mean it’s not good. I just keep telling myself that.”

And the audience agreed — the entire amphitheatre swayed in time to the guitar melody. Even Takac, whose wild stage antics had thus far been unencumbered by Rzeznik’s careful methodology, slowed his pace through the end of the tune.

But from the final chord of “Name” until the end of the night, he did his part to counter the polish of Rzeznik, drawing out a disparity between freewheeling punk energy and a glossy purposefulness, which was surprisingly not as off-putting as it sounds.

Takac’s energy, in his words, was no different from that in the performances of his youth. “There is no difference between the performance you give to a full room of 10,000 people or, you know, five people in a little bar,” he said. “You should be giving your all and giving your best show every chance you have.”

When the band performed “Iris” — the song that truly made the Goo Goo Dolls, a wave of nostalgia swept through the crowd. Bathed in a soft purple glow, audience hands reached skyward to wave in time to the slow drumline.

Oddly enough, though, “Iris” wasn’t the band’s final song — unbeknownst to the members of the audience who stood up to leave after it concluded. Instead, the members of Goo Goo Dolls opted to play the remastered tune “Boxes” from You Should Be Happy as their encore.

Amid glaring red and orange lights, Rzeznik strutted across the stage, free of guitar, crisscrossing with Takac as he sang, “Your love’s the one love that I need to know,” from an album he had previously described as a positive recommendation to the world — “I’m not saying we all are happy. But we all should be happy.” And for the first time all night, he looked as happy as Takac.

Olivia Jerram covers music. Contact her at

Goo Goo Dolls Balances Calm with Punk


As the Goo Goo Dolls return to Fargo for tonight’s show at Scheels Arena, the 31-year-old group approaches a significant anniversary.

While co-founders John Rzeznik and Robby Takac landed on the charts with 1995’s “Name,” it was “Iris” three years later that made the band big stars. The ballad remained atop Billboard’s Hot 100 Airplay chart for a record 18 weeks and was eventually nominated for three Grammys.

The song was on the group’s ’98 album, “Dizzy Up the Girl,” which remains its best seller, but it was first released on—and written for—the soundtrack for the film “City of Angels.”

While the ballad’s drama and sweeping orchestration were instantly cinematic, it wasn’t the first or last time the group would make its mark on the silver screen. And while emotional ballads have become the group’s calling cards, their other forays into film have a different twist on the term “touchy feely.”

“I’m Awake Now”—”Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare”

You wouldn’t now associate the Goo Goo Dolls with a slasher film, but in 1991 the trio’s sound was a brash mix of post-punk and rock. What else would you expect from a band then signed to Metal Blade Records? The group landed three songs on this soundtrack, but this tune wouldn’t be released on an album until their second best-of record in 2008.

“Wait for the Blackout”—”Tommyboy”

The Dolls showed their punk influences by covering The Damned in this 1995 comedy, though you may have been laughing too hard to remember hearing it in the film.

“Don’t Change”—”Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls”

The group was in a good mood in the mid-1990s and kept things light with this cover of INXS’ overlooked 1982 gem.

“Lazy Eye”—”Batman & Robin”

Mild-mannered star George Clooney isn’t the only one who would like to forget about 1997’s “Batman & Robin”. Rzeznik and Takac haven’t played this one live since 2014.

“Before It’s Too Late”—”Transformers”

The Goo Goo Dolls formed an odd alliance with the “Transformers” franchise, penning Sam and Mikaela’s theme for the first installment. If you don’t remember it in the film, it’s probably because you were more focused on Mikaela (Megan Fox) sitting on Sam’s (Shia LaBeouf) lap in his car/Autobot. And if you don’t remember “All That You Are” from the third installment, 2011’s “Transformers: Dark of the Moon,” it’s probably because Megan Fox wasn’t in this movie at all.

Goo Goo Dolls Leave Their Mark on the Big Screen

High Plains Reader – Robby Takac on the Evolution of the Goo Goo Dolls

by Sabrina Hornung

The High Plains Reader had the opportunity to chat with Goo Goo Dolls Bassist Robby Takac about their origins, their ever evolving sound, and the impact of “Iris.”

High Plains Reader: You grew up in Buffalo New York. What was the music scene like when you first started? 

Robby Takac: Our first gigs were in the 80s, ‘86 would have been our first album. The world was a much different place then. There was no internet and such, so everything was pretty hands-on and pretty local. So for us, we had to just get out and start playing around in our van and try to make as much progress as we could. I do think the scenes in general were much more locally driven than they are these days. I think people see the world as a much smaller place now.

HPR: I read that Paul Westerberg (best known as the songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist of the Minneapolis band The Replacements) cowrote the song “We Are the Normal” on Superstar Carwash, released in 1993. What was that experience like? 

RT: Actually, it was a song we had been working on. We sent a cassette of a couple songs with no lyrics to Paul and he sang over the top of them. One of them–there were two songs, but one of them we used. There was another called “Dancing in Your Blood” that he had written, which actually turned into a different song, which was on the record. We used some parts of that song and combined it with something else, but somewhere there might be a cassette floating around with that song on it too. I don’t have it personally.

HPR: You started as a punk/garage band–what caused your shift from that to the adult alternative genre? 

RT: I don’t know if there was ever a shift; we stayed together for a really long time. We grew up. We allowed our band to move forward and progress. A lot of bands, especially when they have a big record, try to hang on to that sound. We just tried to keep moving ourselves forward. It was time to do something just a little bit different. You know, it’s funny because we sold 86,000 copies of our second record and we thought that was super successful for us–for the type of band we were, so the temptation is almost there to stay that band, to do the same thing. John (John Rzeznik guitarist and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls) has always been pretty focused on moving forward and trying to do something that’s a little bit different than the things we did in the last record. That really helped move things forward and helped to shape the sound which — from record to record, the records don’t sound that different. If you listen to that record we put out in ‘86 and our last EP, there’s definitely something that happened over the past three decades.

HPR: What do you attribute the band’s longevity to? 

RT: I guess it was John and I deciding that we’re going to make it happen, deciding that it’s still worth it and that it’s still important enough to us to see it to the next day. I’ve been asked that many times and the answer is, you just wake up and try to figure out what it is going to take today to make sure that we can move one more day forward, because it’s just what we do, so you figure it out. You talk to your manager, you talk to your booking agent and you say, “What’s the smartest thing for you to do here?” and if that stuff’s all taken care of, it’s just about the relationship that John and I have. We’ve just been lucky enough to have all the stuff in order over the years.

HPR: “Iris.” What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Iris?” 

RT: First, the hair on your neck stands up, it’s just this weird thing when you’re own music plays somewhere. We have such a crazy relationship with that song. It made our career and got in our way many times. A song like that is a blessing and a curse too because it’s so big. It’s a shadow you have to back into constantly, but it opened up what was potentially a one-hit thing in the 90s into something that’s a little more respectable, and has allowed us to have the 15 songs that followed it come out on the chart. What do I feel? I guess I feel grateful but you still get that weird feeling when you hear your song on the radio.


The Goo Goo Dolls “Long way home” Summer tour 

Thursday, July 20, doors 6pm show starts at 7:30pm 

Scheels Arena, 5225 31st Ave S. Fargo, ND 58104

Robby Takac on the Evolution of the Goo Goo Dolls