What kind of name is Parachute? Or Michelle Branch, for that matter?
Luckily, the Aug. 18 concert at Deer Valley features the Goo Goo Dolls, the imaginatively named band that continues the long line of truly bad band names such as Limp Bizkit, Hootie & The Blowfish, Hoobastank and Test Icicles.
The latest show of the Park City Performing Arts Foundation features a triple bill of rock with two acts that have respectable names as well as a headliner with an awful name — a name that prevents most sober people from chanting the name of the band. (Fortunately, Deer Valley lets you bring alcohol to the show.)
Not wanting to ask the question most bands despise — "How did you get your name?" — instead we asked John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, Branch and Parachute’s singer Will Anderson about the influences of their upbringing. (Because who, as a 5-year-old, says, "I want to be a Doll when I grow up. Not a New York Doll. But a Goo Goo Doll."?)
John Rzeznik • The 45-year-old is the face of the band that has charted 14 Top 10 singles and sold nearly 9 million albums in the United States since its formation in Buffalo, New York in 1986.
Coming of age in the city along Lake Erie meant growing up as the region’s shipping industry was decimated by the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway. Then the region suffered through the closure of once-lucrative steel mills as they relocated overseas.
Rzeznik said he grew up at the tail end of the industrial era. "With high unemployment, there was a period of time there where everyone was trying to refocus themselves," he said. "There was a big exodus. There was a feeling of desperation and a lack of opportunities."
But Rzeznik’s family stayed put, and the working-class household fashioned a modest living. He was the youngest of five, the only boy, who at 15 faced a succession of tragedies. His father, a bar owner, died from a diabetic coma at the age of 55, and then six months later his mother died from a heart attack. Rzeznik was raised by his sisters.
"I have a blue-collar mentality," the musician said. "We’ve been willing to put in the work and not shying away from challenges."
One of Rzeznik’s formative musical experiences was first hearing the sloppy but incisive music of The Replacements, a Minnesota-based alt-punk band led by Paul Westerberg. "When I discovered The Replacements, [what I connected to was] that it talked about heavy emotional issues," he said. "They were themselves. Every time someone told them to conform, they did a 180 [from that]. That was punk."
The Goo Goo Dolls started as a punk band but eventually softened their edges and became one of the most popular rock acts of the late 1990s and early part of the century, with hits such as "Name," "Iris," "Slide," "Black Balloon," "Here is Gone" and "Give a Little Bit."