By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
Robby Takac can’t believe he is still making music after 31 years as the bassist/vocalist in the Goo Goo Dolls. Spending summers hitting the road with frontman John Rzeznik and drummer/Phoenix native Craig Macintyre is fulfilling.
“It’s just amazing to me that people are still excited about it, too,” he says. “We’re having great summers still. John and I both have babies now. We’re grown-up Goo Goo Dolls now, but we’re having fun.”
Goo Goo Dolls and American Idol winner Phillip Phillips are set to spend this season touring. The jaunt, in support of the Goo Goo Dolls’ new EP You Should Be Happy, comes to the Comerica Theatre on Sunday, July 16.
The EP was recorded at EastWest studios in Los Angeles and produced by Drew Pearson, who first collaborated with the Goo Goo Dolls on its previous release, Boxes. The first single, “Use Me,” was written by Rzeznik and Pearson.
“We decided on an EP for a couple of reasons,” Takac says.
“When you release a full album, you put these 12 to 14 songs out. A couple of them are pushed by the record company and some get noticed by the press. The human attention span has gotten very short. It felt like, to us, that releasing less songs was more advantageous.”
Takac does eye a return to complete collections, though, that allow fans to get a 360-view of the Goo Goo Dolls.
“For me, I write and sing a couple songs on every record,” he says. “The depth of a full album allows you to do a lot of different things. Making a body of work that functions for 40 straight minutes is a whole different skill than writing one pop song.
“I miss it. I think that full albums really allow people to get into the band a little bit more. Hey man, it’s too bad, but it’s just the way it is.”
Despite regularly releasing new material, the Goo Goo Dolls still feel required to play certain hits at each show.
“We refer to it as the ‘Dirty Dozen,’” Takac says with a laugh. “There are 12 songs that we’re pretty sure we have to play every night. That leaves us with another eight songs.
“We like to do a lot of the new songs. They’re fresh to us and they keep the show exciting for us. We like to put in new songs for people, too. It’s difficult for us to make a setlist, but that’s probably the easiest problem you can have as a rock band.”
That problem lies on Rzeznik, who has been honored with the Songwriters Hall of Fame Hal David Starlight Award. Since 1986, the Goo Goo Dolls have scored 14 Top 10 radio hits, including “Name,” “Slide” and “Iris,” the latter of which spent 12 months on the Billboard charts.
“John knows how to write a great song,” Takac says. “Those songs ruminate on a big level—a lot. I think our fans have just been awesome and stuck with us. I was trying to figure out how we turned into those dudes who have been in a band for a few decades and still make records we like to play and listen to. I think it’s a combination of the fans and our work ethic that makes it still work.”
Musicians have certain dynamics, Takac adds.
“The interesting thing about a band is that there are no real social norms to conform to,” he explains. “You can become whatever you want. As long as the people who are involved really feel like they’re doing the right thing together, you can stick it out.
“It takes a certain amount of ego and a certain amount of emotional and public dysfunction to get into this to begin with.”
The rest of the year is looking more like functional than dysfunctional, though. Takac’s daughter is starting kindergarten in September, and Rzeznik and his wife are celebrating their daughter’s first birthday later this year.
“We’re going to try to keep the schedule pretty light after this summer for a while,” he says. “We’re going to write music and record a bit, and figure out when to release new music, and move on from there.”
Goo Goo Dolls w/Phillip Phillips, Comerica Theatre, 400 W. Washington Street, Phoenix, 602.379.2800, comericatheatre.com, 8 p.m. Sunday, July 16, $48.50-$195.