Pretty good for a band that was originally named the “Sex Maggots.”
“I think if we had 10 more minutes, we probably wouldn’t be called Goo Goo Dolls either,” the band’s bassist and singer Robby Takac said. “But I think it might be part of the reason people remember the band is because of the name.”
Yeah, plus the 14 top 10 singles on various Billboard charts, no doubt.
Breaking their songs down to its purest form, the Goo Goo Dolls (aka Takac, singer, guitarist and chief songwriter John Rzeznik, and drummer Craig Macintyre) will be delivering an intimate, stripped-down performance Thursday as part of this year’s sold-out “XLO’s Acoustic Xmas” at Mechanics Hall.
And, Takac, speaking Friday morning from his Buffalo home via the phone, said he and Rzeznik can’t wait to get back to Worcester.
“We’ve known you guys since the Blue Parrot (that used to be at 286 Main St.),” Takac said. “It’s been a long time. We played up on that tiny little stage, probably in ’88-’89.”
For many, the beginning of the holiday season officially starts with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and, this year, the Goo Goo Dolls were an active participant, perched on top a float shaped like a active volcano and parading down 34th Street.
“It was actually the second time we did it. The first time, it was mind-blowing, quite honestly, just looking up and seeing all the faces in the windows,” Takac said. “We’re in a rock band. We’re not used to standing on floats, waving to people for an hour-and-a-half … It’s just one of those things you never expect to do once and you certainly don’t expect to do twice.”
And, on Thanksgiving Day, the papier-mache and wired constructed volcano wasn’t the only thing that erupted behind the Goo Goo Dolls. The twitter-verse did as soon as the TV announcer referred to the Goo Goo Dolls as a “classic rock” band on the air.
“I’m not sure what the legal constraints of “classic rock” is or the moral constraints for that matter,” the good-natured Takac said with a laugh. “I guess, I’ll take that as a compliment. We’ve been at this for a while, longer than most. It’s just nice to be in the public consciousness.”
Formed in 1985, the Goo Goo Dolls started out in Buffalo’s music underground (opening for punk bands of the day that included SNFU, Dag Nasty, Gang Green and The Dead Milkmen) and didn’t taste mainstream success until its fifth album, 1995′s multi-platinum “A Boy Named Goo,” with the breakthrough single “Name.”
“It’s way different now. We’re certainly not a bunch of dudes sitting in their sweat pants, drinking beer, trying to figure out how to pick up girls later that night. That is what it was like back in the ’80s,” Takac said. “The Goo Goo Dolls, and largely due to John’s steadfastness and creativity and willingness to move forward and do different things, we’ve been able to move along, with varying degrees of commercial success throughout it but we’ve always maintained and stayed on the radar. I think that’s what makes us different than most of the band of our era.”
After the hit “Name” came bigger hits, including “Iris,” the band’s contribution to the “City of Angels” soundtrack which spent nearly 12 straight months on the charts and, since then, there has been no looking back.
“How does that happen? How do you get a song to be 18 weeks at No. 1?” Takac rhetorically asked. “Give me a break, man! You don’t! That’s the answer! That’s a freak. That’s like the one kid in school that sprouted wings. Nobody can explain it.”
Not only does “Iris” rank at No. 1 on Billboard’s Top 100 of 1992-2012, the Goo Goo Dolls are the only act that has three songs on the coveted list, with the other two being “Slide” and “Name,” ranking at No. 9 and 24, respectively.
“John came in with the demo for “Iris” and played it and we thought it was a great song, obviously. And we went in and recorded it just as the band. But, it was still, sort of, just a song,” Takac recalled. “But, I remember sitting there and having the full orchestra set up in the room and they’re playing along with us and (celebrated arranger, composer and conductor) David Campbell (who has worked on over 450 gold and platinum albums) is up there conducting them and these heavy hitters are in the room…I just remember sitting there, watching, all of this swirl of stuff going on around us. And, at that point, I felt something special was happening.”
On Thursday, expect something else special to happen. The Goo Goo Dolls will be playing unplugged, acoustic versions of their most beloved songs and greatest hits, and, who knows maybe they’ll entertain the Worcester audience by roasting a Christmas chestnut or two on the fire.
“I just learned ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, get this, in Japanese,” Takac said. “My daughter goes to Japanese school here in Buffalo and I’m Santa Claus in their kindergarten class. I have to play and sing ‘Rudolph’ in Japanese. How’s that?”
That’s pretty cool. Even cooler would be Robby singing “Rudolph” in Japanese, dressed as jolly Ol’ St. Nick Thursday night at Mechanics Hall. Hopefully some urging from the crowd (and, possibly, WXLO 104.5 FM) will make this musical Christmas miracle happen.
Takac, who said his best Christmas gift was his first electric guitar, will be spending Christmas in Japan with his wife of 15-years Miyoko, their five-year-old daughter Hana and his Japanese mother-in-law who still lives back in “The Land of the Rising Sun,” only to come back to the States to perform with the Goo Goo Dolls at the NHL Winter Classic between the Buffalo Sabers and New York Rangers New Year’s Day at Citi Field in Flushing, N.Y.