Buffalo band on the road with ‘I Won’t Back Down’ pals O.A.R.
By John Benson
Afghan Whigs singer Greg Dulli during the late 1990s said something to the effect that the Goo Goo Dolls put Soul Asylum out of business.
There’s a greater connection between the bands, however. Three decades ago, The Goo Goo Dolls, a then-underground band from Buffalo, was named opener for the MTV-popular Soul Asylum on its “Grave Dancer’s Union” Tour.
“The tour we did with Soul Asylum was like a real tour,” said bassist Robby Takac, calling from Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. “We met a lot of really great people that we still see. Those guys were road dogs, and we were just learning how to do it. That was a great time for us.
“We saw we had a chance. Our favorite artists were selling 3,000 or 4,000 records when we started. All of a sudden, we were watching bands with songs on the television and radio. It really gave us something to inspire to.”
A few short years later, the Goo Goo Dolls would experience stardom of their own with 1995’s “Boy Name Goo” yielding the monster hit “Name.”
However, the seeds of that song’s mainstream sound — a calculated shift in style from the punk-minded band — were planted with the 1993 album “Superstar Car Wash,” which didn’t do much commercially but garnered critical attention mostly due to its single, the highly underrated “We Are the Normal.”
“That was one of the songs that we sort of realized there was something else under the hood,” he said. “Our friend Mary Ramsey, now with 10,000 Maniacs, played viola on that.
“We felt like there was kind of something different going on. Funny enough, that song sort of led to ‘Name,’ which started everything for us. That was definitely a cool bridge.”
Decades later, the four-time Grammy Award-nominated Goo Goo Dolls have sold more than 15 million records and scored 16 No. 1 and top-10 hits.
In fact, the band holds the record for the most top-10 singles, including “Iris,” which topped the charts for 18 straight weeks.
There has been new music from the band, which, in addition to releasing the single “Run All Night,” teamed up with O.A.R. to record a soaring cover version of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down.”
The two bands also have teamed up for a summer tour, which includes a show on Aug. 20 at Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls.
“It’s funny, you see those Venn diagrams, and you wouldn’t think the crossover (between fans) was as big as it was,” he said. “Our bands are very different from each other, but holy hell — this has been a great show.
“The crowds are accepting enough to fall right into it. I’ve been on some summer tours with some bands who aren’t awesome people and it’s horrible, but these guys are great. They’re into having a good, copasetic vibe out on the road. We’ve been having a really good time.”
Fans who have seen the Goo Goo Dolls in action know Takac always plays barefoot. What may seem odd is actually his trademark of sorts.
“It’s superstition at this point,” he laughed. “I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I don’t even know why.
“I’m clumsy. It’s one less obstacle between me and the Earth. I don’t know what it is, but it feels right. That’s all.”
Goo Goo Dolls
When: 7 p.m. Aug. 20.
Where: Blossom Music Center, 1145 W. Steels Corners Road, Cuyahoga Falls.
Tickets: $44 to $149.