/ Articles / Interview
Goo Goo Dolls lead singer John Rzeznik remembers a night when the band played at a small venue in Somewhere, U.S.A. and everything was on point.

The band was working the room. The crowd was moving to the music.

“We were like, ‘Oh my god that balcony is going to fall over,’” Rzeznik said. “That was kind of exciting and terrifying at the same time.”

Rzeznik feels the same emotions whenever the group plays small venues.

It can be an intimidating experience, where missed connections with the audience are magnified.

“But when it works, it’s fun,” Rzeznik said.

The Goo Goo Dolls will play at Beaumont’s own small venue, the Jefferson Theatre, on Sunday in support of “Boxes,” their newest album, which was released in May.

Rzeznik said in the three years between “Magnetic,” released in 2013, and “Boxes,” he reached a turning point in his own life that shaped the music.

“I made a lot of really important, hard decisions about who I wanted to be with, what I wanted to do with my life and the work that needed to be done to get there,” Rzeznik said.

After, Rzeznik and bandmate Robby Takac got close again. They got selfish with their music.

“We regrouped and started writing, and it was easy and fun, and it didn’t matter if we got a gold record,” Rzeznik said.

They experimented with new instruments, like synthesizers, worked with the people they wanted to, sometimes over Skype, and forgot about the pressure of trying to make a hit.

While the Goo Goo Dolls tested out new sounds on the record, lyrically and thematically, the music has remained constant since their breakthrough album, “A Boy Named Goo,” released in 1995.

“It’s about making myself happy or finding a grain of truth in something. Sometimes it’s gotta be cathartic, and sometimes it’s just something that sounds cool, and it goes no deeper than that,” Rzeznik said.

He sometimes hides little nuggets of himself in his music, hoping that people will pick up on the messages. Other times, a song’s lyrics are self-explanatory, like in “So Alive,” a song about a man making peace with his demons.

But regardless, Rzeznik knows to relate to his audience, he has to be vulnerable. The songwriting process has to be raw and sometimes brutal.

“I’m an outsider. Even if I’m not an outsider, I feel like one. I think that’s why I started a band,” Rzeznik said. “I think that every artist in any form that they take has a little narcissistic wound. And that somewhere in the back of my brain, there was this kid that wanted approval, and I think that a lot of artists have that same thing, that it just drives them to create a better reality than they feel inside their head.”

Rzeznik, 50, hates admitting he’s getting older. But over years of playing with the Goo Goo Dolls, he’s made a decision to make the music he wants to and not let the pressures of the industry get to him.

“The public is obsessed with the youngest, the newest,” Rzeznik said. “Can I still write a badass song? Hell, yeah. Is it going to be No. 1 on the charts? Probably not. But life goes on.”

Rzeznik is in love with some of the band’s new songs, like “The Pin.” But he’s still grateful for hits like “Iris,” which he said will always be included in Goo Goo Dolls sets.

“I’ve toured with bands who will not play their biggest hits, and I’ve always thought, ‘Wow, that’s such an arrogant thing to do,’” Rzeznik said. “You have your relationship with your audience backwards because you’re there for them. You need to be there for your audience. Because they’re what made you you, and when they stop believing in you, you’re going to disappear.”

In a small venue, where it’s just the crowd, the band and the music, Rzeznik is able to get to know his audience on a first-name basis.

He can tell fans to get on their feet and get closer to the stage. He can see their faces singing along to their favorite songs.

“I’m obsessed with connection,” Rzeznik said. “To feel that connection — it’s like playing the song for the first time all over again. And that’s awesome. That’s amazing.”
Previous article
Robby's Lobby #123
Next article
Goo Goo Dolls Donate More Than $22K to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital