/ Articles / Interview
Goo Goo Dolls front man Johnny Rzeznik said he doesn’t consider himself a rock star, at least not anymore.

“I think in 1997 or ’98 I was a rock star for sure,” he said during a recent telephone interview. “It’s got nothing to do with money or any of that. It’s all of a sudden you go from being nobody to having all these people know who you are and treat you differently. But the shine of that wore off really quickly for me, and I was really grateful that it did because it let me get back to work.”

It’s hard to fault Rzeznik’s work ethic, or his rate of success. The singer, who’s playing the Grand Sierra with the rest of the Goo Goo Dolls Aug. 25, has been cranking out hit songs since the band broke through in the early 1990s. He may not consider himself a rock star, but there aren’t many people who better define the term. After toiling in relative obscurity for nearly a decade, Rzeznik helped the Goo Goo Dolls break through to stardom by co-writing nearly every song on “A Boy Named Goo,” a 1995 album that became a staple of rock radio and achieved platinum status. That release also produced a string of hit singles, most notably the acoustic ballad “Name” and the hard-charging rock anthem “Long Way Down.”

Rzeznik co-wrote both songs with bass player Robby Takac, and he also sang lead on both tunes.

Already, the group had more success than many rock units ever see but, in 1998, the ballad “Iris” became its biggest hit to date, spending 18 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard charts and paving the way for another album. The Goo Goo Dolls arguably reached peak popularity at this point, but unlike many of its ’90s peers the band has refused to fade away.

In 2006, Rzeznik and company released “Let Love In,” an album that went gold thanks to the singles “Better Days,” “Stay With You” and a cover of Supertramp’s “Give a Little Bit.” Then, the group followed that effort with last year’s “Something for the Rest of Us.” The most amazing fact may be that the Goo Goo Dolls lineup has stayed consistent through most of its 25-year existence, the one exception being that original drummer George Tutuska was replaced by Mike Malinin in 1995.

“I think we’re just lucky,” Rzeznik said of the longevity. “I think we respect each other’s boundaries. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this about musicians, but a lot of them are pretty egomaniacal. We don’t really have a lot of that going on in this band.”

Although the group’s lineup has remained stable, its outlook — at least musically — has shifted from time to time. In particular, “Something for the Rest of Us” was more somber and serious than most of the group’s albums, with a number of songs examining the troubles of the modern world.

“That’s what was inspiring me at the time,” Rzeznik said. “I feel as lost as everybody else, you know, because the business that I’m in is changing and imploding and shrinking. It’s really difficult to know, 'Do I have a place? Am I going to be able to make a living doing what I’m doing?’ I think a lot of people in general feel that way.”

Rzeznik said he sees the results of music industry changes all the time. For instance, when the Goo Goo Dolls play an unpublished song live, it doesn’t take long for it to reach fans who weren’t even at the show.

“The thing about living in this day and age of the Internet is that here’s this unknown song, and you play it and people are recording it live,” he said. “They put it up on YouTube, and then by the fourth or fifth show, everybody’s singing along.”

Rzeznik said it doesn’t bother him that people post unrecorded material on the Internet because that’s the way things work these days.

“The problem is now it’s really hard to sell records,” he said. “Thinking that you’re going to sell 3, 4 million records these days, you know, U2 couldn’t even do it. My theory is get it out there to as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

Everybody makes their money live now, and that’s an important way of doing things. I want to give our audience as much material as I possibly can. I mean, if I have a good idea that I want to share with my audience, I want to give it to them as quickly as possible.”

Rzeznik has also taken steps to make the most of the Internet age. For instance, he appeared on an episode of Daryl Hall’s Web-TV show “Live From Daryl’s House,” performing both Goo Goo Dolls and Hall & Oates tunes with the fellow pop star.

“That was an amazing thing to be part of, and I love that he’s doing that because he’s such a great singer and he’s such a great stylist,” Rzeznik said. “It was just so cool to be able to play my songs and have him put his stamp on it. I’d never met him. I was blown away just by his hospitality. I mean the guy is a massive star and just for him to be so laid back and cool about everything. That’s inspiring when someone of that caliber and that level of success is actually cordial.”

Rzeznik and his bandmates also took part in another unusual project recently, recording a live EP in a New York Apple Store. The album, “iTunes Live From Soho,” came out in late July and is exclusively available on iTunes.

“It was strange, but it was fun, and it’s another way to get noticed,” Rzeznik said. “I mean we live in a world that’s completely saturated with everything. I don’t believe that, in the age of the Internet, there is such a thing as overexposure.”

Regardless of where the Goo Goo Dolls go from here, Rzeznik said he’s pleased with what the group has achieved so far.

“I’m really proud that the world stopped to listen to us once,” he said. “When they listen to you more than once, that’s an unbelievable phenomenon to have in your life. If it ended at the end of this tour, that would be OK. Not that it is, because that’s not the plan. You know, we’re planning on going and doing another record. But if it had to end, if someone took it away from us at this point, it would be like, 'OK, fine. How can you complain? You’ve had a great life.’”
Previous article
Next article
Goo Goo Dolls