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Published by Dave Paulson on April 29, 2010

Johnny Rzeznik probably made a few fans worried about the state of his band, Goo Goo Dolls, with a recent tweet.

“What do you do when someone asks you to commit artistic suicide?” he asked his followers on Twitter. “Tell them to (buzz) off and go on tour!”

He wasn’t referring to himself, but an unnamed artist friend who’d been butting heads with his record label. Rzeznik advised him to forget about selling records and hit the road. It’s a decision he’s been fortunate enough to not have to make.

“We’ve been lucky enough to be on the radio pretty consistently for the last 15 years in one form or another,” says the singer, whose band stops at the Ryman Auditorium on Sunday, May 2.

The band has enjoyed a string of hits over the course of their 24-year-career, including “Name,” “Slide” and “Iris.” The latter would likely be considered their signature tune: The starry-eyed, string-laden ballad transformed the Goo Goo Dolls from scruffy Replacements-esque rockers (once signed to Metal Blade Records) to sensitive mainstays of soft-rock radio.

The band has evolved enough over two and a half decades that Rzeznik had to draw the line at a few acoustic shows: He refused to take any requests to perform songs from their first two albums.

“Going back to our first couple of records, we were just messing around really,” he says. “I’m 44 years old. I feel kind of silly playing the really early material.”

New methods

The band wasn’t fooling around so much on their recently finished record, Something For the Rest of Us, due out later this year. Rzeznik says it gets “a little more topical than earlier albums.”

“It’s dealing with the uncertainty of living in a country where we’re fighting a few wars that don’t seem like they’re going to end, and a bad economy as a result of that. It’s thinking about the emotional impact that they have on people.”

One of Rzeznik’s favorite tracks is a song called “Not Broken,” which he wrote as “a letter to someone for someone else.”

“It was based on this communication I had with a woman whose husband was injured in Iraq and was having a hard time readjusting to his life,” he says. “I just wanted to speak her piece for her, to him.”

The band employed new musical methods on Something as well. Rzeznik wrote the basis for many of the songs on piano.

“I don’t play the piano,” he says with a laugh. “At least not very well. It’s just such a different way of thinking, looking at a piano and going, ‘Oh my God. This note works with this note.’ It’s kind of fun, feeling your way around in the dark. . . . A lot of the songs, that was a big challenge, not sticking in your comfort zone.”

An honest reflection

While fans wait for Something’s release, Rzeznik says the album has put the band in a good creative position for the future — and that future may include recording in Nashville. They re-cut one of the album’s tracks during a day off in Nashville, and Rzeznik says he’d love to record at Blackbird Studios at some point.

“The band is pushing itself further than we ever have before. I think (the album is) a good statement for where we are in our lives and the time that we’re in. I think it definitely speaks for a very uncertain time. It’s just an honest reflection of where I’m at and where I feel like the world is right now.”

Source: http://blogs.tennessean.com/tunein/2010/04/29/goo-goo-dolls-get-more-topical-on-upcoming-lp/
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