In these polarized, toxic times, John Rzeznik takes comfort that his music can provide invaluable relief, without the need for medication.
The 53-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., is lead singer for The Goo Goo Dolls, a multi-platinum and four-time Grammy-nominated rock band that plays the Adler Theatre on Wednesday, Nov. 6, as part of a national tour.
“I just think everything going on now is unprecedented,” Rzeznik said in a recent telephone interview, noting he tries not to get political in his songs.
“We’re just here to have a good time,” he said. “Everybody really wants the same thing.
“Half of our audiences voted for Trump and half voted for Hillary Clinton, but there’s one thing we can agree on,” he said. “I’m standing on stage and it’s uniting people. I’m singing ‘Iris’ and the audience is singing with me. I love that. We’re just trying to pull together under one umbrella.”
Formed in Buffalo in 1986 by Rzeznik and Robby Takac, Goo Goo Dolls has sold 12 million records worldwide and achieved 14 No. 1 and Top 10 hits on the Billboard chart, including “Iris” (1998), “Slide” (1999) and “Name” (1995). Their music has been covered by everyone from Taylor Swift to Leona Lewis.
The Goo Doo Dolls’ 12th studio album, “Miracle Pill,” was released in September on Warner Records, and they recently released their colorful new music video for its first single, the title cut, directed by Ed Gregory and Dan Cooper.
The rambunctious “Miracle Pill” video features lots of flying paint, reflecting the song of “instant gratification, that gets out of control,” Rzeznik said. “It was really fun to make. It was pretty interesting; we didn’t want to make another rock video, so boring. We wanted to bust everything open. The two guys who did the video were performers in Blue Man Group. They had crazy, funny ideas.”
“I wanted to sing about the need for human connection and the constant change we go through as people,” he said. “This piece of work embodies those themes, and I think we can all relate.”
Rzeznik said his biggest influences were Joni Mitchell, Stephen Stills, Jimmy Page and Oasis.
His father died in 1981, from a diabetic coma at age 53, when Rzeznik was 15 years old. The next year, his mother, 51, died from a sudden heart attack in the family’s living room. Rzeznik was brought up by his four older sisters and later paid for his own apartment using Social Security Survivor Benefit checks.
He began playing guitar, and music helped him to heal.
“For a while, my guitar was my only friend,” Rzeznik said. “I was kind of lonely; it was one of those things, it felt like I was on the outside watching. All I ever really wanted to do was connect — it’s like the music was always a way to connect, to speak my own truth, however unsophisticated it might have been. That was the only truth I know.”
“I had this thing recently happened, one kid I’m close with lost her mom, at the exact same age I did,” Rzeznik said. “It was a good way, to actually speak about it, just tell them I’m here, you’re not alone.
“Life hands you this horrible lesson, ultimately, if you let it define you in a negative way, let it affect you the rest of your life, you’ll be in trouble,” he said.
So what has accounted for the band’s longevity?
“Luck and a lot of work,” Rzeznik said. “We never stopped. So many bands we came up with, sort of around the year 2000, stopped. It’s strange. We never stopped, kept going and going, keep putting out our records.”