Interview – John Rzeznik & Robby Takac of Goo Goo Dolls

There are few Rock-n-Roll bands who have been able to break down the walls of Pop radio quite like the Goo Goo Dolls over the past twenty years. Entrenched in a rich history that dates back over thirty years, Goo Goo Dolls first broke big into the mainstream spotlight back in 1995 with the hit “Name,” but this was merely a prelude of what was to come with the multiple platinum 1998 album Dizzy Up the Girl. A record which was anchored by five massively popular singles, Goo Goo Dolls continued to grow from album to album. Now, they prepare to make an impact once again with Miracle Pill.

Set for release on September 13th, Miracle Pill is a culmination of life experience, realizations, and hopeful outlook during a time of social anxiety in the world that desperately needs a reprieve from madness. Older, wiser, and still relishing in new experiences, band co-founders John Rzeznik and Robby Takac sat down to talk their life in music, the work behind Miracle Pill, plus much more. 

Cryptic Rock – The Goo Goo Dolls has been established for over three decades now and you have attained major success with numerous highly charted singles. First, briefly tell us, what his this journey been like for you?

John Rzenik – So far it’s been a lot of fun. The journey has sort of been like life. Doing this is what has mostly dominated and defined our lives for the last thirty something years.

Robby Takac – Yea, and I think we’ve been lucky enough to see what happens when a band stays together. I don’t think a lot of people get a chance to see that happen, I feel pretty grateful for that. There really has been so many different variations living this thing. It’s tough to say what it’s been like, it’s been so many different things.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, and a lot has happened through the years including success and growth. That said, you two have done it all together. Quickly looking back, 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl recently celebrated its 20th anniversary. That album really brought things into a new stratosphere for the band. What was that time like?

John Rzenik – It was fun. At the same time, I was in the middle of a divorce, but I also was writing great music and living in Los Angeles. It was the first time I really left Buffalo, so it was a lot of fun.

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Cryptic Rock – It certainly is a landmark for the Goo Goo Dolls. Touring in celebration of the 20th anniversary of Dizzy Up the Girl, you are now set to release your new album, Miracle Pill, on September 13th. A very positive, bright sounding record, what was the writing and recording process like?

John Rzenik – When we got done doing the 20th anniversary tour, playing Dizzy Up the Girl from start to finish really sort of took me back to the process of making that record and what that record meant.

By the end of it I was very much, “Okay, I understand this, now I can put it away.” We always play songs off that record because it was a huge record, but kind of emotionally I could put a lot of it away and go on to something new. That’s what I wanted to do, so that’s what I did, as soon as we got done with that tour I started writing. 

Cryptic Rock – Very cool. Miracle Pill is appropriate for the current social climate of the world. We are living in a time where it seems everyone has become so occupied with things that perhaps are causing unnecessary stress. Was that something you had in mind when writing the album? To help people focus on what is important in life?

John Rzenik – I don’t think that was something from the outside, but a lot of time what’s going on around you seeps into the lyrical content and mood of the music. To me, this album is more about making connections with people, missing a connection with a person, wanting a connection with a person, trying to have some hope, and hopefully keeping things in perspective.

We live in a society that’s suffering from a chronic low grade anxiety all the time; whether a robot is going to take their job, whether they have five thousand friends on Facebook. There’s a lot going on, we are human beings, we are incredibly imperfect, but that’s what makes us amazing.

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. These songs are very relatable and human. Like any Goo Goo Dolls album, Miracle Pill has John and Robby songs. Robby, tell us about your songs on this album such as “Life is a Message.”

Robby Takac – I just tried to write a whole bunch. John and I tend to live parallel lives in a lot of ways. We’re very different from each other, but it seems like a lot of large life experiences we have tend to come down at the same time lately. We both have daughters now, we both have extended families that are getting older. We are experiencing unbelievable firsts for people in our lives, but at the same time we are experiencing people closing out long, incredibly rich lives, and kind of watching it happen at the same time.

I was focused in on that type of situation a lot, I’ve never been through either of those situations in my life before. A lot of it for me is observation about that type of thing. Once again, like John mentioned, these are the types of things, although they are special, very personal situations to me, they are situations all people are going to make their way through. I think they are fairly relatable at the same time. 

Warner Bros.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, we all go through very similar life situations even though everyone’s life is unique. You guys recently wrapped up a summer run of shows with Train, but you will be heading back out on the road this fall. Goo Goo Dolls has toured a lot over the years, how do you keep yourself in shape physically and mentally through it all? 

Robby Takac – I don’t know, if you have any tips please send them our way. (Laughs) 

John Rzenik – For me personally, I don’t drink, I make sure I go to the gym. The worst part of touring for me is broken sleep. You’re on a bus, and you never sleep well on a bus, then you pull into a hotel around five in the morning. You do a bunch of things that you really don’t want to do just to get to that hour or two on stage. 

Cryptic Rock – Right, and being away from your family is tough as well, especially when you have children.

John Rzenik – I have a two and half year old daughter, and there are days when I’m home where I go, “Oh my god I have to go back out on tour, I need some sleep!” (Laughs) It’s really awesome having this crazy, funny little being around all the time. 

Robby Takac – My family comes out with us, John’s family comes out too. It’s so hectic out here, it’s almost like you are strapping on a whole other part of life that you are trying to include in the time you are spending trying to play music. It’s super valuable and awesome, but it gets difficult for sure.

Goo Goo Dolls live at Jones Beach, NY on 8-13-2017. Photo credit Mark Schoen Photography.

Cryptic Rock – It’s all about balance, right? Seeing that Miracle Pill is coming out soon, you have proved to remain very consistent through the years. That in mind, the history of Goo Goo Dolls is very rich and unique. Coming from a Punk Rock background, being a part of Metal Blade Records at one point, going on to major Alternative Rock success, have you ever considered putting together a documentary about this compelling story?

John Rzenik – Nobody has asked us, but I don’t know, maybe. There are certain aspects we are bound by non-disclosure agreements. (Laughs) 

Robby Takac – I think it’s a pretty interesting story, but I think we’re so close to it right now, it’s tough. We live it everyday. I’m sure someone who is a great storyteller could tell it very well. 

Cryptic Rock – It would be very interesting see happen. Seeing you do have that history, do you ever have the die-hard fans asking if you would consider doing a club run of shows of that older material?

Robby Takac – Some people mention it every once in a while, but I don’t know. 

John Rzenik – I don’t know, I’m kind of digging where we’re at. We fought for ten years to get out of clubs, I’ve done that… alot. (Laughs) Literally hundreds and hundreds of shows and tens of thousands of miles in a van for the first eight years of the band. I’ve lived it ad nauseam, so I’m happy where we’re at. 

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

Cryptic Rock – Yes, and you worked really hard to reach the level you have. Last question. Robby, you mentioned you dig Horror movies. That in mind, have either of you seen any Horror or Sci-Fi films you enjoyed lately?

John Rzenik – I don’t do Horror. 

Robby Takac – I just watched the three Back to the Future films with my daughter yesterday, that’s as close to Sci-Fi as I’ve been lately.

Cryptic Rock – Very cool. John, in the past you have mentioned you enjoy Disney films. Have you seen any of the new live-action films they have released?

John Rzenik – No, but I’m sure I’m gonna once my daughter turns three. (Laughs) I’m more into really old films like French New Wave films. 

Goo Goo Dolls 2019 Tour Dates:
SUN, SEP 22 Estádio do Arruda Recife, Brazil
WED, SEP 25 Allianz Parque Sao Paulo, Brazil
FRI, SEP 27 Pedreira Paulo Leminski Curitiba, Brazil
SUN, SEP 29 Rock in Rio 2019 Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
WED, OCT 2 Estadio Monumental Lima, Peru
FRI, OCT 25 Bass Concert Hall Austin, TX
SAT, OCT 26 American Bank Center Selena Auditorium Corpus Christi, TX
SUN, OCT 27 Majestic Theater San Antonio San Antonio, TX
TUE, OCT 29 Brady Theater Tulsa, OK
WED, OCT 30 Orpheum Theater Wichita, KS
FRI, NOV 1 Rushmore Plaza Civic Center Rapid City, SD
SAT, NOV 2 Sioux City Orpheum Sioux City, IA
SUN, NOV 3 Hoyt Sherman Place Des Moines, IA
TUE, NOV 5 Peoria Civic Center Peoria, IL
WED, NOV 6 Adler Theater Davenport, IA
FRI, NOV 8 Kalamazoo State Theater Kalamazoo, MI
SAT, NOV 9 Fox Cities Performing Arts Center Appleton, WI
SUN, NOV 10 Orpheum Theater Madison, WI
TUE, NOV 12 Louisville Palace Theater Louisville, KY
WED, NOV 13 Mark C. Smith Concert Hall Huntsville, AL
FRI, NOV 15 Tivoli Theater Chattanooga, TN
SAT, NOV 16 Tennessee Theater Knoxville, TN
SUN, NOV 17 Charleston Gaillard Center Charleston, SC
TUE, NOV 19 Carpenter Theater Richmond, VA
WED, NOV 20 Palace Theater Columbus, OH
FRI, NOV 22 Hershey Theater Hershey, PA
SAT, NOV 23 Tropicana Atlantic City Atlantic City, NJ
MON, NOV 25 Queen Elizabeth Theater Toronto, Canada

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Purchase Miracle Pill:

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