Times have certainly changed for the Goo Goo Dolls’ frontman John Rzeznik — but he wouldn’t have it any other way.
The singer is currently gearing up to head out with bandmate Robby Takac and Train on a co-headlining tour kicking off on June 7, and he tells PEOPLE that the band’s days on the road now look a lot different than the shenanigans they’d get into on tour in the late ’90s and early 2000s.
“There’s no booze, no drugs, no girls,” Rzeznik says with a laugh. “There’s children and babies and dogs and cousins and uncles and aunts. And I love it, I’m having so much [more] fun this way than that way.”
While out on tour, Rzeznik, 53, says his wife, Melina Gallo, and their 2-year-old daughter, Liliana, are able to join him.
“[Liliana] loves to ride the bus and she loves being on the stage,” he says. “During sound check I’ll bring her out on the stage and she loves the lights and everything. She dances on the stage. She’s awesome; that kid is so funny.”
“She loves to watch me play,” he adds. “She’s got her big ear muffs on so she doesn’t hurt her ears. She stands on the side of the stage with her mom, then she gets tired and goes to sleep.”
When it comes to the tour with Train, Rzeznik says he’s most excited about sharing the stage with a band that he “really” loves.
“I’m a big fan of Train and a big fan of [lead singer] Pat [Monahan], so it’s cool to get to finally do a tour with those guys,” he says. “When you basically tour for a living, it’s nice to be around people that are fun and cool.”
As a part of Live Nation’s National Concert Week, fans hoping to see the Goo Goo Dolls out on their tour can get tickets for just $20 through May 7. Along with one or two new songs from their upcoming album, the band is expected to play some of their older classics like “Iris,” “Black Balloon” and “Name,” which Rzeznik says he never gets sick of.
“People actually still want to hear them, and I can always go back to being a bartender if I get sick of my job as a musician who actually can pay his mortgage playing music,” he jokes. “Forget it — no, I’m grateful every time I get to play those songs.”
Reflecting on his old tour days, Rzeznik says that his wildest memories stem from the Goo Goo Dolls’ tour with Sugar Ray which happened 20 years ago in 1999.
“That was the height of the shenanigans, having a great time,” he says. “It was such a fun tour but it was one very long, never-ending party. And I’m grateful that I got to experience that, but it beats the hell out of you. I’m like, ‘I need a doctor and some rest.’”
These days, Rzeznik is sober — and that, as he puts it, means “that I don’t have to hate myself anymore and someday I may actually love myself.”
Aside from his sobriety, Rzeznik says things are also different than his younger years now because it used to be “very important to be recognized or on a certain music chart.”
“We’re like workmen in a lot of ways, we’re in this for the long haul,” he says. “We’ve never been the biggest band in the world, but we never stopped trying to be the best as best as we can be. We had to make a lot of changes along the way, from the inside and the out. But if somebody says a bad word about Robbie, they’re going to have to deal with me. I can fight with him all I want, but you can’t.”
Rzeznik credits Takac for keeping them together all these years.
“I didn’t see it lasting this long,” he says. “I’m ready to quit, and he’s like, ‘No, you’re not going to quit.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, you’re right — I’m not going to quit. I think it has something to do with growing up in a working-class town and growing up Catholic. It’s like, it’s okay to be miserable. Misery is encouraged. The guy is my brother, I love him, but I don’t always agree with him. Sometimes that has gotten heated but at the end of the day, he’s my brother.”
Whether Rzeznik would ever actually retire, he says that decision boils down to a ‘no’ for a simple reason: he doesn’t have any hobbies.
“I got to get a hobby,” he jokes. “If anybody that reads your magazine knows what a good hobby is, please let me know. But I can’t afford to race cars, okay.”
More seriously, he adds, “I love doing what I do. I’m going to do it until nobody wants to hear it anymore. I’ll know when it’s time to hang it up.”