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Goo Goo Dolls may have edited the groove out of its last record. Not so with the new one.
Preview by Dave Richards
Staff writer
After two years of work with multiple producers, will the Goo Goo Dolls' upcoming CD offer something elaborate, like a rock opera? They did work with Rob Cavallo, who produced "American Idiot."

"No, no. It's more like 'The Wall' and 'The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,'" said the Dolls' Robby Takac.

Relax! His next two words were, "I'm kidding!"

Takac said the band didn't intend to spend so long crafting "Something for the Rest of Us," which arrives in late June. Members realized after initial recording sessions they didn't quite capture the feel they wanted.

"ProTools is like a word processor for music," Takac explained. "You can move stuff around and move beats around and line things up. Sometimes, in the quest for a tight performance, you edit the groove out of stuff. You edit what makes the band unique out of it.

"I think we found we definitely did it on ['Let Love In.'] So we were able to go back on this record and revisit a lot of the initial takes, prior to the editing. It made for more purity in the process.

"I think this record, because we had more control over it, sounds more like the kind of record we would like to put out as a band."

That doesn't mean a return to the raw, desperate, punk-influenced sound of the late '80s, when critics likened Goo Goo Dolls to the Replacements, Husker Du, and Soul Asylum. Those days are gone.

"The band couldn't stay together for 25 years if we pretended we're still a punk-rock band, because we're not those guys anymore," Takac said. "But we still fill it out as a rock band. That's largely due to the fact we went through CBGBs and Maxwell's and every ballroom and all those places. You had to go get your rock chops on.

"That's what we did, but we were also 20 when we started doing that. Right now, I'm in my 40s, and I'm still making records that we and a lot of other people -- not all, but a lot of other people -- feel are very relevant."

You can hear their more polished rock hits -- such as "Iris," "Name," "Slide," "Black Balloon" -- and what comes next at Penn State Behrend on Saturday. The band will break out several new songs, including the first single "The Sweetest Lie," during their spring tour of colleges, a precursor to a summer amphitheater with a co-headliner to be announced.

"It's going to be cool because the colleges give you a little bit more of an adventurous audience," Takac said.

He hinted the CD has political overtones. Check out that "Something for the Rest of Us" title again.

"It's basically what it says. There's like an awful lot of resources out there and an awful lot of money in the hands of a very small amount of people," Takac said. "Everyone else is sitting there, waiting to see what happens."

Late in the game, the Goo Goo Dolls brought in another heavy-hitter -- producer Butch Vig ("Nevermind") to work on a track. With Vig, Tim Palmer (Switchfood, U2), Cavallo (who's worked with the Goos before), John Fields (Jonas Brothers, Jimmy Eat World), and mixer Mike Stent (Radiohead, Dave Matthews Band) all involved, there's a lot riding on "Something for the Rest of Us."

Fortunately, Takac believes the Dolls -- still a trio with singer-guitarist John Rzeznik, drummer Mike Malanin, and Takac -- have hit this one out of the park.

"I think the last couple months we spent on it allowed us to feel that way," he said. "We felt like when we initially finished it that we wrote a bunch of great songs. I'm glad we had a chunk of time to look at everything, reanalyze it, and figure out the best way to deliver those songs. I think that added up to what will be a successful record for us -- knock on wood."

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