One of Alternative Rock’s biggest acts during the mid to late ’90s era, Goo Goo Dolls are also perhaps one of America’s hardest working bands. The partnership of John Rzeznik and Robby Takac, the two Buffalo, New York natives have dedicated their lives to being prolific songwriters and live performers. Seemingly always on the road touring over the last thirty years, while consistently releasing new music, when the pandemic hit in 2020 Goo Goo Dolls faced the same harsh restrictions as us all. Unable to tour, instead of wallowing in sorrow, or wasting time on a bing streaming, the guys got to work and recorded a bunch of new music; including a Christmas released album in fall of 2020, an EP released in 2021, and 2022’s full-length effort Chaos in Bloom.
The true essence of resilience in a dark time, the band now continues to press forward with the recently released O.A.R. collaboration cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down,” the single “Run All Night,” and more touring. Not just filling space, Goo Goo Dolls are still striking marks along the way and making impacts that should not be ignored. The tale of a true American Rock band who has never said die, Robby Takac took a little time to talk about the recent history of the band, writing music, the potential of more new songs, and a lot more.
Cryptic Rock – Goo Goo Dolls are currently amidst a career spanning tour through the end of September. Since we last spoke a few years back a lot has happened with the band, and that includes the release of a new album. What has the last few years been like for the band?
Robby Takac – Well, it has been unique as we lived through what the entire world lived through; which was people not being able to gather. We had never experienced that. For the majority of our career, we’ve been out there playing constantly. It was a year sitting at home, but we weren’t just sitting at home, we got an awful lot done… we released a couple of records, did some live streams, etc. Although, that interaction between the audience and yourself, I’m not going to say you take it for granted, but it just becomes part of your life. When that gets sucked out of your life, it’s such an unbelievable change to the psyche and such. Last year was awesome, it’s great to be back into this again, but the last few years have definitely been pretty strange.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, it certainly has been a strange time. That has to be amplified for a touring musician such as yourself who is used to spending so much time playing live. You had mentioned in the past that the band was going to release singles here and there in between albums. In fact, you recently released the new single “Run All Night.” Are you still looking to put singles and EPS out here and there?
Robby Takac – Yea, I think with what goes on in today’s climate is that you kind of need to have things to talk about a lot… so people don’t forget you. People are getting bombarded with information and ‘content’ as they call it. (Laughs)
To be able to say, “we have something new happening right now” on a more regular basis is probably pretty good for things. It keeps your name out there and keeps people thinking about you.
Cryptic Rock – Yes, that is a good approach. And you are right, people are having sensory overload. You released Miracle Pill a few years back in 2019 and Chaos in Bloom in 2022. These records touch on a lot of what we have been going through with the advent of social media taking over our lives and the bombardment of information. Do you feel like people are becoming a little more aware of what this modern lifestyle is doing to us and the negativity it is bringing?
Robby Takac – Yea, I think people are becoming a little more aware that there are consequences to the anonymity that people feel when they are online, brazenness, and attitude a lot of people take when they are separated by a wire. I think if they were in the same room with each other, they probably wouldn’t act the same way, that’s for sure. (Laughs)
I think that lack of physical connectivity has led to an awful lot of this. I think people are starting to see what it’s doing. As far as the fractionalization of stuff, like you were said, I think it’s very easy to be just in your little bubble these days and not really have information that is not in your way of thinking to enter your world. It’s very easy to separate yourself and create your own world view. I think that was always possible, but the world was a much smaller place with a lot less information at hand. Things have become complicated, for sure. I think people are aware that there are repercussions to this stuff; much more than ever before social media and such started kicking up.
Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. As mentioned, Chaos in Bloom says it in the name. Additionally, the music video for “Yeah, I Like You” totally touches on these topics.
Robby Takac – That was fun to do. It felt like we were in a movie for a day. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – It is a crazy music video! As mentioned, you are out on a career spanning tour. With such a lengthy career, what can people expect from these shows?
Robby Takac – You think as you get more hit records and release more material it gets easier and easier to put a set together… but it gets harder and harder. It’s crazy trying to satisfy what you think the average person who comes into your show and what they want to hear; that fills up a set for us already. It gets hard to leave the framework of the songs people know sometimes, and it becomes a challenge for us to put ninety to one-hundred minutes together; because when you are playing six nights a week, we can’t do much more than that, we just wear ourselves out.
I always thought it would be – get a bunch of songs people want to hear together, and it would be easy to make a setlist. However, we have time constraints we are dealing with.
Cryptic Rock – Understood. Maybe you will have to tour different legs for different eras of the band.
Robby Takac – Yea, we went out and did a Dizzy up the Girl anniversary tour which was fun! One of the things I love most about our shows is that everybody is singing and everyone is bringing it all back from the back of their brains and sharing the whole night with us. That happens most readily when you are playing the hits and the songs people know. That’s always a blast.
Cryptic Rock – It is always a blast seeing the band live. You have put on great live shows for a long time now. Let’s talk about the new single “Run All Night.” This is an uplifting track that reminds us that life is short and you should do the most you can with it. What was it like working on this song?
Robby Takac – We were in the midst of working on another single we released with Marc Roberge; the Tom Petty cover “I Won’t Back Down,” which we’ll perform on the tour with O.A.R. on The Big Night Out Tour.
We were recording that song, John (Rzeznik) was working with Gregg Wattenberg, I was in Buffalo, and John called me up and said, “Get on a plane, get over to NY quickly, we’ve got a song.” I made my way over and it was sort of a result of the single session we did with O.A.R.. It’s a cool song and we have a pretty awesome live arrangement of it for the tour and we are excited to play it.
Cryptic Rock – That is cool to hear, because it is a very good song. Beyond Goo Goo Dolls, you also have your own label, Good Charamel Records. How is that going?
Robby Takac – We deal with just Japanese bands, so the pandemic put a little nick in the touring and such. We just released the Shonen Knife record in May, and it looks like they are coming over in 2024… and we are excited about that.
It’s a labor of love; it’s my wife and I who run the label. Hopefully I will be able to get my daughter who is eleven now into the mix and we can sign some more bands. (Laughs)
Cryptic Rock – Very cool! So, you have the touring, Chaos in Bloom and some new singles. So, has some work begun on a new record, or is it too early?
Robby Takac – Usually John starts buying and piling gear up… and he’s doing that currently. I’m seeing some stuff come, and I would imagine as soon as we are done with this tour, we will have a little bit of time off to hopefully do a little writing.
When we did the Woodstock sessions for Chaos in Bloom we had probably another four to five songs we were working on that we hadn’t released yet. We will see what happens, it just depends what fate deals us.
Cryptic Rock – Understood. The tone of Chaos in Bloom felt a little bit rawer than more recent Goo Goo Dolls’ records. John was the producer on the album… was the tone intentional?
Robby Takac – We just didn’t have a producer. We were in the middle of the pandemic and everything was still kind of fragmented. John was putting ideas together at the same time… so there was a lot of writing going on together as we were in the room. Rather than working on two to three songs at a time (which is how we generally make records) we went in, and just started blasting songs out. It was a pretty productive time for us.
I think just being in a room with just us there, opposed to having the outside influences in the room from the start, made a different kind of record for us.
Cryptic Rock – It worked out well for the band. Beyond Goo Goo Dolls and your label, you have also done some music on your own for some films.
Robby Takac – Yea, my friend Armand John Petri, who used to produce some old Goo Goo Dolls – he worked on Jed (1989) and Hold Me Up (1990) – is involved in the Horror genre. Every once in a while, he pulls me in to help him out with something and it’s fun. I’m not a big Horror fan myself quite honestly, but I’m a big fan of my friend Armand, so I help him out a little bit. It’s always fun to do stuff with him!