GOO GOO DOLLS
by Riley Graebner
It’s been three years since the release of Goo Goo Dolls’ A Boy Named Goo. Anxious fans and even more anxious critics have been chomping at the bit for a sequel to the album and its hit single, "Name."
The element that has the most potential to change the sound of the upcoming album is the Goo Goo Doll’s "new" drummer, Mike Malinin.
Joining guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takac in 1995, Mike’s live talents have been unparalleled, yet relatively untested in the studio. The single "Lazy Eye," from the Batman & Robin soundtrack, was the nation’s only taste of this important element.
The road that lies ahead of Malinin and Goo Goo Dolls is much different than the path behind them. The Fleetwood Mac tribute album and the May release of their new album came to the foreground in a recent interview with this unsung drummer.
The members of Goo Goo Dolls are not blind to the controversy surrounding their use of acoustic tracks on the upcoming album. In fact, they are more in-tune to the argument than most critics give them credit for.
"Obviously there is a lot of pressure from forces, both internal and external, to write another ‘Name’ because it was such a big hit." Malinin paused and then bluntly an-swered the question that is on everyone’s mind: "I don’t think it is really affecting the song-writing that much."
Malinin continued, expanding on his last statement: "I think we are definitely doing what we want to do. Johnny is doing what he wants to do. No matter what we do, we’re going to get flagged. You have to deal with that now and accept it.
"There are going to be people who like it, and there are going to be people who hate it. And especially when you’re slightly successful, people are more vocal about disliking you than they were.
"No matter what happens, if we don’t put any acoustic songs on the record, someone’s going to say, ‘They’re trying to get good press by trying not to repeat "Name." And if we put an acoustic song on the record, then they’re going to say, ‘Oh, they’re just trying to cash-in on the fact that "Name" was a big hit.’ It’s a no-win situation."
The band has followed a slow evolution from its self-titled release in 1987 to its latest single, "Lazy Eye." According to Malinin, everyone in the band recognizes the need to expand on the past eleven years.
"It seems like Johnny is making an attempt to not write songs that sound like something he’s already done. I think you heard that in ‘Lazy Eye.’ It sounded like the Goo Goo Dolls, but it almost didn’t.
"Guitar-wise and rhythm-wise it was a little more straightforward. I think it is going to more one of those records."
Malinin contemplated for a second, then let the cat out of the bag: "I think there are going to be a few acoustic songs on it, too."
So, why will the new album have more acoustic tracks than A Boy Named Goo?
"We’re getting older," Malinin said.
I guess that only proves the fact that adult contemporary and age are directly related.
Goo Goo Dolls also will be featured on the Fleetwood Mac tribute album due to be released in March. Songs from the album Rumors are being covered in their original order. Malinin and Goo Goo Dolls will be performing "I Don’t Wanna Know," track eight. Also slated to appear on the album are Jewel, Tonic, Matchbox 20, Elton John, and No Doubt.
Malinin explained the unusual process of covering a Fleetwood Mac song.
"We didn’t really rehearse it. We listened to it, played it a couple of times, and then decided not to do anything with it until we could meet with a producer.
"It was Lou Giordano who produced that song. He came into Buffalo. ‘OK, Lou, we don’t know what we’re doing. We know the arrangements of the song, but let’s change it.’ And we started messing with it. It sounded really hokey. The chord progression is so straightforward that no matter how we played it, it sounded dumb. We just started trying all this different stuff.
"Finally I just said to Johnny, ‘Man, why don’t you go in there and write a song?’ So Robby and I left the room. Johnny went in there with the producer and wrote a song in 20 minutes and sung the Fleetwood Mac lyrics over it. So it ended up that the chords were completely different, but the vocal melody is pretty much the same."
"It sounds like a Goo Goo Dolls song with Stevie Nicks lyrics," he concluded. "Which is kinda’ weird. You’ll have to forgive us for the lyrics. I guess they were cool in 1977." He sat back with a wry smile.
Much controversy has surrounded Goo Goo Dolls and its Warner Brothers/Metal Blade contract dispute. Fortunately -- or unfortunately -- Malinin had little to do with the dispute.
"I’m not technically signed to Warner Brothers. Rob and John are. I’m actually hired by the band. It’s basically just a technicality. I’m in the band, but I’m not signed to Warner Brothers. The only reason why I’m not signed to Warner Brothers is their contract extends back eight years, and I wasn’t with the band. It doesn’t make any sense. There’s no need for it."
In addition to shining a light on the future, Malinin opened up the door to the past, sharing a few amusing stories with Dig Magazine. He took one of many cheap shots at the band Bush by telling a story from the infamous tour.
"The crew was on ELP the whole last month of the tour: Emergency Load-up Procedure. The whole effort was to get everything loaded in the bus, and drive the bus out before Bush played their first note. So we had 25 minutes.
"So the crew would be on the edge of the stage and the second we played our last note they would be on the stage packing everything up. The crew was the same way. They didn’t want to hear them again. I mean, we played 70 shows with them. When ELP was working efficiently, we’d hear the first couple notes of ‘Machine Head’ as we were pulling out of the parking lot."
More laughs came at Bush’s expense as Malinin told how Bush lead singer Gavin Rossdale was discovered "performing rave-disco at a club in England. You see, George Michael’s publicist thought he had the looks for alternative rock."
The members of Goo Goo Dolls have proven to fans that they are more than a flash-in-the-pan. They are more than a band that spits out a hit record and goes home. Their contributions to local charities, their compilations, as well as their diverse musical abilities make their upcoming album a big release for the industry. Malinin summed up the band’s past and future in a simple-but-true way: "All we can do is do what we do and hope people like it."