GGDs remain rocking and relevant
« on: Feb 24th, 2011, 2:56pm »
Goo Goo Dolls remain rocking and relevant
By Mike Bell, Calgary Herald February 24, 2011
Johnny Rzeznik doesn't dispute his music has changed and evolved over the years.
His Buffalo, N.Y. band the Goo Goo Dolls started life in the mid-'80s as a sloppy, Replacements-inspired alt rock act and now you're more likely to hear their songs emanating from a minivan than a hazy college dorm room.
But what Rzeznik does have a problem with is those who scoff and claim the change is some kind of calculated attempt to sell out. To them, he has a message.
"They can kiss my ass," he says. "Really, that's the straightest answer I can give you. . . .
"When you're a very underground band like we were, we were like the critics' darlings before we sold records," he continues. "When we were selling 20 to 30,000 albums the critics loved us. As soon as we sold a million records they all turned on us.
"But it's because people want to believe that they're involved in something very small and private and cliquish and then when it becomes something that people who are maybe construed as less hip or less in the know get hold of it and it becomes mainstream just based on its own energy it reaches a mainstream audience then it immediately becomes passe to this group of elitists.
"And I never wrote music for those people anyway. I never tried to pander to an audience of snobs."
These days, Rzeznik can more than afford to hold that opinion, considering the Goo Goo Dolls have, since the mid-'90s, survived and thrived as radio staples, selling millions of albums, and earning numerous industry awards thanks to hits such as Name, Iris and Black Balloon.
They've appeared on soundtracks, recently performed at the Pro Bowl, and are currently touring their ninth studio album, Something For The Rest Of Us, while most of their contemporaries have long since fallen into the used record bins of our collective consciousness.
For the frontman and main songwriter, the fact they're still here and still, in many eyes, relevant is way more important than any of that indie cred they began their life with.
And the fact they did strike it big, first with the massive hit Name from 1995's A Boy Named Goo, was, he thinks less the meeting of an end goal than a result of what they had always done and wanted to do.
"We had the hit song, and then after that point we sort of said to each other, 'Wow, that was amazing that that happened, now is when the work starts.
The Goo Goo Dolls perform Monday at the Jack Singer Concert Hall.
"We weren't making enough money to be full-time musicians and we always had to go home and get jobs after we would do a tour. So that was the first time in my life, people were like, 'Well, what do you do?' and it's like, 'I'm a songwriter.' It wasn't 'Well, I'm a songwriter and a bartender' or 'I'm a songwriter and whatever.' It's an interesting feeling.
"And that was when we decided that we had to keep working as hard as we could. And I think that's what separated us from a lot of the bands of our generation, of our time, was that we were just willing to work harder.
We weren't afraid to experiment with the different opportunities given to us."
Those opportunities led to longevity for the band and, in turn, have seen to it that their audience is anything but homogeneous.
Rzeznik says that crowds, such as the one that will witness their Monday show at the Jack Singer, are made up of everyone from those who've stuck with them the past quarter century to those who've recently been introduced to their brand of smooth, melodic rock.
Or, as the singer puts it, it's "everybody. It's kind of interesting because we've been around that long that the kids have discovered the later material and then they discover the earlier material . . . I talk to a lot of kids and they're like, 'It's really interesting your older records are so different from your newer records,' and it's like, Yeah, that's what happens when you grow up and you learn how to play your instrument and you start to think about different things and your world view is completely different.' "
As for the world view on the group's latest release, they aren't that far removed from those he may have held as a punk growing up in the urban decay of Reagan's America, just perhaps a little more mature and a lot more refined.
Rzeznik says that with the album, he wanted to experiment and explore the "emotional underpinnings of what's going on in America.
. . . We've been living under a state of emergency for 10 years in America and the economy is going into the toilet and there's an awful lot of frustration, we're stuck in two wars that we're never going to get out of and I think people are finally coming to understand they're being pushed to the limit . . . And I just wanted to express my feelings for those people. That's why it's called Something For The Rest Of Us. When you ask me who comes to our shows, it's like: the rest of us."
And what about the rest of the rest of us? Those who maybe do prefer that world view and that sloppier sound of the band's early days? While he's adamant that that was then and this is now, that doesn't mean he's ready to disown those earlier albums, such as 1990's Hold Me Up or their early classic Superstar Car Wash -which featured a co-write with hero and Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg -and in fact, he admits the band's current set list features material from those days.
It just means it's all been part of the Dolls' natural progression, which continues to this day. "It's interesting, those were interesting records, and that was an interesting time," he says. "Those records, Hold Me Up and Superstar Car Wash, they're 20 years old almost. . . . But those albums have their own charm because they were a reflection of us and our attitudes at that time. This is just sort of where I've evolved into and I'm really happy making the music that I make."
Read more: http://www.calgaryherald.com/entertainment/Dolls+remain+rocking+relevant /4337509/story.html#ixzz1EubdgWeo