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Every band has a history. Some history is just richer than others.

There once was a scrappy punk band from Buffalo, New York. They played a few shows and convinced a tiny label to put out their record. They went on a few moderately successful tours and scraped up enough money to put out a few more albums.

Six years into a career peppered with an immense number of ‘almost’ and ‘not quite’ moments, the band almost breaks up. The drummer leaves, and suddenly instead of a band there are two people who don’t know what to do next.

And the band? The Goo Goo Dolls. Now considered masters of pop/rock radio, the trio have survived and evolved for more than twenty years.

One thing that hasn’t changed is bassist/singer Robby Takac. He has remained the same long-haired, gruff voiced and joyous punk long after many of his peers have retired to the world of middle management.

The tale of how he met John Rzeznik, GGD lead singer/guitarist, isn’t quite one of legend.

“John had a band, and I used to sub for his band on second guitar occasionally,” said Takac, speaking from the Dolls’ Buffalo studio. “My cousin played bass in that band, which is how I knew those guys. The old drummer, George, and I went to college together. We met John in a pub somewhere.”

The band slogged along for several years. It took a long time for them to become “full-time Goo Goo Dolls”

“We had to all gets jobs for six months out of the year to support the other few months out on the road,” Takac said. “We were musicians and other things until 1994, ‘95.”

The history of the band since then has been well documented.

“Iris” is a wedding song, “Name” is a popular song amongst love-stuck teenagers, and “Slide” follows Katy Perry in modern radio rotation. This is a remarkable turn for the band, whose first three albums had Takac as their lead singer instead of Rzeznik. The band is now touring on the strength of their most recent album, “Something for the Rest of Us.”

Released in 2010, it marked the band’s first release after 4 years of touring.

“This record sounds very natural to me, which I think is a tough task sometimes for a band that has been around as long as we have,” Takac said.

And yet, as anyone who has listened to latter-day GGD songs, they sound nothing like the snotty punk songs the band started out playing.

20 years ago, fans of the Buffalo music scene couldn’t have imagined what the band would become. And now, in 2011, Takac can’t imagine making those records again.

“I think that those were the exact records we were supposed to be making then,” he said. “I think that they are a snapshot of what we were into at that point, and as we grew up and learned to play, we made different records.”

As the years go by, sometimes what was once a bold new direction is now the status quo of yesterday. The best example is the band’s biggest hit, 1997’s “Iris.”

In the 15 years since its release, the band hasn’t played a single show without it. As Takac puts it, “Over one billion served.”

Though it was “Name” that served as a catalyst for everything, it was “Iris” and subsequent singles like “Slide” and “Black Balloon” that made the band into superstars.

And, as strange as it may sound, the fans that followed the band during their early days have remained, even as their sound has changed. As Takac said, it’s a “very delicate and complex dance.”

“At any given time, somebody really wants it to happen and makes sure that it keeps happening,” he said. “As long as that keeps up, you’ve got the chance to keep sharing songs with people.”

So what is left?

“When we go do a show, there’s 15 songs that we’re in danger of not getting out of the building if we don’t play, said Takac, his happiness obvious. “I never get sick of it.”
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