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By Alicia Lee

It's been 30 years since the Goo Goo Dolls first started playing, and founding members John Rzeznik and Robby Takac show no sign of slowing down.

After releasing their 11th studio album, "Boxes," in May, they're on tour and heading to FirstMerit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island Tuesday, July 26.

"Boxes" is the first album with the Dolls as a duo, a transition brought on by the departure of drummer Mike Malinin in 2013.

"It's always kind of been the two of us (Takac and Rzeznik) since Buffalo (New York) in the '80s," Takac said. "The two of us living in an apartment together, moving around the country together. So it's a little different, of course, but the heart is in a really good place right now."

Being in that "really good place" helped inspire the new album, which gives off a brighter, energetic vibe.

"Every emotion that you can imagine has been interjected into this thing," Takac said. "Peaks and valleys, really happy moments and miserable moments ... Right now, we seem to be in one of our good ones so that probably had to do with it."

Starting from their last album, "Magnetic," the Dolls approached their recording process differently.

"We started doing one or two songs at a time rather than going in to record 15 songs at once," Takac said. "It started to look as a daunting task, and I don't think we really needed to put that kind of pressure on us, so we started taking smaller chunks and going in and finishing a couple songs. It made for a much more fresh sound, a much less-labored sound."

The album features 11 songs with a mix of power ballads and rock anthems, a blend of old and new.

As time passes, music trends change. That's why, Takac said, they worked with new producers such as Drew Pearson, who had previously worked with Katy Perry and OneRepublic.

"I think a lot of your decision-making and who you bring in to help you dictates whether or not you stay current with the newest ideas," Takac said.

Takac's favorite song on the album is "Over and Over," a song Rzeznik and Takac wrote together.

"John and I hadn't really written a song together in many years," Takac said. "I feel like that song has a lot of energy that we haven't captured in a long time. It just feels very classic to me in a very classic Goo Goo Dolls kind of way."

As for the fans' response to the new album, Takac, from what he knows, said that it has been positive.

"Everybody's singing along, so that's usually the indicator," Takac said. "Every time you make a record, you try to bring everybody along with you to the next phase of your situation. It's not realistic that everyone's going to make it, but a lot of people have been with us for a significant part of this thing. To me, without that, we wouldn't be able to do this. There's still people out there that are awesome enough to care."

During the tour, Takac said that fans can expect to hear favorites such as "Iris" and "Slide."

"People come to see us to hear those songs," Takac said. "We still try to do five to six songs from the new record throughout the tour and throw in some classics that weren't necessarily hits."

The Goo Goo Dolls' biggest hit, "Iris," came out in 1998 and reached No. 1 on music charts. It was ranked at 39 on Rolling Stone's list of the 100 greatest pop songs since 1963.

When asked if he ever gets sick of playing "Iris," Takac said, "I think if you get sick of playing a song that's been so good to you as that song's been to us, I think it's time for you to go home and find another job."

As for how long the Goo Goo Dolls will keep making music, Takac said he can't imagine giving it up. "This is what we do," he said, "so hopefully forever."
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