Bassist for Goo Goo Dolls shares band’s secret
by Monica Hooper
Bassist Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls has been watching crowds grow and change from the stage since the 1980s.
"The thing that I've noticed the most between then and now is just the amount of younger people that are coming out; for a while our audiences were getting older and older," he says. "We didn't really see the youth coming out as much, but it seems in the past few years there's been a lot of multi-generational attendance. It's exciting after all these years to see [that] people handed down their love for the music to their kids and younger people in their lives. It's pretty fun."
Fronted by Johnny Rzeznik, the band started out as a punk opener for the likes of Bad Religion, Motörhead, and The Gun Club, but shifted their sound in the early '90s. Their first big radio hit came with 1995's "Name," but then in 1998, they released their biggest hit ever, "Iris," written for the "City of Angels" soundtrack. To date, the song has more than a billion streams on Spotify.
"Those were huge songs, man. You know, it's funny, we have written so many songs since then. And there's a certain magic that happens occasionally when the stars just line up," Takac says of those hits. He attributes part of the songs' enduring success to pop stars such as Dua Lipa and Lizzo covering them on social media.
"Current pop culture is definitely keeping those songs alive. Reminding some folks of those songs and the fact that the band's here -- which is a great thing when you got a new record coming out," he adds.
The Goo Goo Dolls released "Chaos in Bloom" last month. The album was produced by frontman Rzeznik, whom Takac calls a "firm producer."
"John was able to spend an awful lot of time this time just playing around with stuff and trying new things and trying different things," he says, adding that they usually work with several producers, but this album was just the band and engineers because of covid restrictions.
"There's a lot more purity of process on this record, I think, than there was with past records," he muses. "There weren't a lot of people around; it was just us, basically. We rented an old converted church out in the middle of the woods in Woodstock, New York, and just sat out there in the woods for months and just recorded music. ... We left with a bunch of songs that I think sound a lot more like our band sounds when you come to see us at a rock show."
While he's not sure that they will take the same approach when making another album, the process worked. "We've got another half a record kind of waiting in the wings right now, every bit of it is as good as what we just released. So it's pretty exciting."
After 35 years of watching the crowds grow and change while touring, recording and being The Goo Goo Dolls, Takac says that working toward the same goals and having a good support system is the key to keeping the band together.
"I always say that the easy answer is you just don't break up. Keep going. And you know what, that's the most honest one I can give," he says. "When you wake up in the morning, and your goal is to escape or go do something else, then that's what you're going to do. That's never been my goal. I just want to see this make it to the next day.
"This [band] has taken a lot of different shapes over the past 35 years, and you got to be able to be confident in every single one of those shapes," he adds. "We've been one of the biggest bands in the world, and we've been a struggling band. Both those things happened numerous times in our career at this point, so to us, it's just about making it to the next day and having the conviction and the wherewithal, and quite honestly, enough amazing people around you to help you get to where you got to be."