by Mitch Mosk
With 2020 marking Goo Goo Dolls’ 35th trip around the sun and the 25th anniversary of their breakthrough album ‘A Boy Named Goo’, now feels like a perfect moment to look back on an impressive career that has withstood the test of time. Founding member Johnny Rzeznik dives into Goo Goo Dolls’ early material and later successes, reflects on their first hit single “Name,” and shares stories behind the band’s festive new holiday album, ‘It’s Christmas All Over.’
From upstate New York garage punks to worldwide superstars, to alternative rock’s elder statesmen, the Goo Goo Dolls have seen fire and rain over the course of their 35 years.
Fame has graced them and time has humbled them, but the latest entry into the “classic rock” canon remain as active as ever, to the point where they are still celebrating new firsts. Goo Goo Dolls released their twelfth studio album Miracle Pill in September 2019, and more recently released their first Christmas album It’s Christmas All Over, a collection of original and classic holiday songs.
“It’s a little bit different now than it used to be, because I’m at a point in my life and my career where I’m not trying to get the big slam dunk hit on the radio anymore,” reflects Goo Goo Dolls’ frontman and guitarist Johnny Rzeznik. Rzeznik formed Goo Goo Dolls with friends Robby Takac and George Tutuska, the latter of whom left the band in 1994 shortly before they released their breakthrough fifth album, A Boy Named Goo, in ’95.
Most folks recognize Goo Goo Dolls for their #1 hit single “Iris” (originally written for the City of Angels soundtrack) and other songs off 1998’s 4x multi-platinum album Dizzy Up the Girl. The group’s group’s sixth and most successful record to date transformed them into a household name; several of that album’s songs, including “Slide” and “Black Balloon,” remain staples of the band’s live set to this day. While Dizzy elevated and solidified the Dolls’ name and status, they had already broken into the mainstream three years earlier thanks to the popularity of “Name” and its parent album A Boy Named Goo (which reached 2x multi-platinum status in summer 1996).
When Goo Goo Dolls debuted in 1987 (for context, the same year Guns N’ Roses debuted with Appetite for Destruction, U2 released The Joshua Tree, Michael Jackson put out Bad, and Rick Astley released his first single, “Never Gonna Give You Up”), they were a punk rock band making loud, raucous music with the amps turned up to eleven.
Rzeznik asserts that the Goo Goo Dolls have always beat to the tune of their own drum, making the music that they wanted to make regardless of label pressure or other external forces. “We’ve always done that, and we’ve gotten into several pretty heated discussions with certain people who were at the labels that aren’t there anymore. I’m still there, and they’re not,” he says. “So in retrospect, I think I won that argument.”
In 1987, Robby Takac led the band as its primary vocalist, injecting feverish and youthful angst into a plethora of dramatic overhauls on par, at least energy-wise, with the urgency of Dookie and upheaval of Bleach. Johnny Rzeznik’s emergence as Goo Goo Dolls’ principal lead vocalist wouldn’t truly come until 1993’s Superstar Car Wash, a set of alternative outpourings that gave the band their first single in the anthemic outcry, “We Are the Normal.”
“To me it was the first real record that we made,” Rzeznik says in reflection, “I was really starting to come into my own as a songwriter. The production is kind of dated on it now, but the songwriting was so tight. I really worked hard to make these tight concise songs. And it was a lot of fun doing that record too, I remember… Although the producer wound up hating us,” he laughs.
Read the entire conversation here - https://atwoodmagazine.com/goo-goo-dolls-interview-music-2020/