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GRAND CHUTE - "Oh, we play anywhere, dude," said Robby Takac, who 30 years ago helped found the Goo Goo Dolls. "We've played in volcanoes, we've played on icebergs, we've played on aircraft carriers and bunkers in Bosnia. We've played so many places, it's crazy."

Fox Cities Stadium isn't quite a southeastern European bunker, but as far as venues in and around Appleton, it wouldn’t be anyone’s first guess to host a major concert. That might change Thursday, when the home of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers welcomes its first show in eight years, a show that has sold out of its 7,500 tickets.

The Goo Goo Dolls headline the 6:30 p.m. show and are no strangers to playing baseball stadiums — or really any other place a stage could reasonably be erected. Beyond the icebergs and volcanoes, they played Miller Park in Milwaukee following a Brewers game in 2015.

"It’s funny, especially when you’re a band like us," Takac said by phone last week from a tour stop in Albuquerque, New Mexico. "You get offered a lot of things — we're playing some ice skating thing coming up soon. They're going to set us up and all (these) famous ice skaters are going to skate. You just go do it, man."

What he means by "a band like us" is not just one that's been around since the late 1980s, but one that's seen massive amounts of success. Launched in Buffalo, New York, the Goo Goo Dolls have gone from a Replacements-inspired punk rock band to having one of the defining hits of the 1990s. And now three decades in, they've settled in comfortably as veteran pop rockers who sell out minor league baseball stadiums and seem to still pop up for a national TV performance at will.

The Goo Goo Dolls' sonic story is one of evolution. Takac and John Reznik guided the band from it's scrappy punk days to mainstream breakthrough albums "A Boy Named Goo" and "Dizzy Up the Girl" through today, where they've just released album No. 11, "Boxes," and brought its lead single, "So Alive," to the "Today" show, "Conan" and "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"

"That's kind of like what's gone on with all our records, interestingly enough. If you listen to the first Goo Goo Dolls record and listen to ‘So Alive,' nothing makes sense," Takac said. "And you're like, wait a minute, come on, how did that happen. It almost seems bogus.

"But if you look; 30 years. What band gets to see what they sound like after 30 years? Not many, man. Not a band that's still growing. A lot of bands are still together in 30 years but they're coming out and playing their old records."

That 30-year-run, which includes monster hits like "Iris," "Slide," "Name" and "Black Balloon," includes a warm relationship with northeastern Wisconsin. They've been frequent visitors to Green Bay, including a late '80s show at City Centre Theatre and other visits to Brown County Veterans Memorial Arena, the Oneida Casino, the Weidner Center and, most recently, the Meyer Theatre in 2014.

One reason they keep coming back? They keep selling places out, the Otis Midnight Sessions acoustic show at the Meyer two years ago and Thursday's Fox Cities Stadium show included.

Another? The Fox Valley and the band's home of Buffalo aren't so far apart, both when it comes to drawing up a tour route and in spirit.

"Being from Buffalo, we've always kind of considered ourselves — I know Buffalo is an East Coast city I guess — but we've always considered ourselves Midwesterners," Takac said. "We were always able to get to those places from where we lived in our vehicle. It'd been a pretty serious part of our earlier touring cycle."

"Boxes" arrived in May, marking the band's first record since separating with longtime drummer Mike Malinin in 2013. That left Takac and Reznik as last remaining full-time Goos, but the duo sound like they've settled in a good place since the shakeup.

Takac said for "Boxes" they changed their music-making approach, working song-by-song with producers from start to finish, as opposed to tackling a pile of songs all at once. That's how they went after "Magnetic" (released in 2013), too, but the process was refined this time and landed them in a better place.

The results are an album they're excited about and has the band, after all these years, feeling good about where they've ended up. Like Takac said: How many bands get to even find out what they sound like after three decades?

"Yeah, right now it seems good, you know," he said. "We're from Buffalo, man, we're always waiting for the other foot to drop. But yeah, you know, it's good. We're lucky, dude, I can't believe it every day. There's so much you take for granted — especially when you travel all the time. The hassle of traveling is such a process, getting from place to place. But that hour you go out and play every night is awesome and that's the payoff."
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