Robby Takac wants to play the new songs.
And he wants to play the old songs.
"Our newest thing, to us, is always the most urgent," the bassist for the Goo Goo Dolls told The Beat. "We've started playing Sweetest Lie (first track on the band's latest CD, Something for the Rest of Us) during our 'charge up songs' to open the set. A lot of times, people don't know those songs as well, because we also use some early songs in there, too."Turns out he wants to play all the songs.
"When we get to Slide, it's often the first song people know really well," he said. "And if you don't play Black Balloon or Iris, someone's going to be upset, and we don't want that to happen. People relate to certain songs."
Then he added, sagaciously, "To not pay some sort of homage to the progression of what you're doing is a surefire way to stop the progression of what you're doing."
The progression has spanned 25 years now since Takac and guitarist-singer John Rzeznik first made music together in Buffalo, N.Y. ("More than half of my life it's unfathomable," Takac said with appropriate incredulity.)
While Takac and Rzeznik remain from the original lineup, drummer Mike Malinin has been with the band for more than 15 years, and Takac said there are members of the band's touring crew who have worked for them for more than a decade; and they've had the same manager for 20 years.
"It's a gang of people who interact on a pretty intense level," he admitted. "It's a family-type situation, so you have some feelings and situations like any relationship. But it boils down to a magic that you can't explain."
For its first decade, the band hewed closely to its post-punk, garage band roots -- and to do it for a decade means some level of success. But over the following three years, the band released A Boy Named Goo and Dizzy Up the Girl and the definition of success changed. The more polished adult rock was radio- and audience-friendly, and catapulted the band toward superstardom. Since then, the band has done little wrong, if record sales and charted singles are any indication.
Which is not to say it's a simple equation. Takac admitted he took far too long to treat the band like a professional career ("I always worked hard, but at some point, you have to consider the way you live your life and how it affects what you do.") and that replicating commercial success doesn't come without pitfalls ("I'd be lying if I said that doesn't weigh on John in some capacity.")
So the band is focused on the new songs, like Sweetest Lie, of which Takac said he was amazed when people were singing along in concert before the record came out, "just from people posting videos online from their camera phones," and Home, which he said is "something new -- a new vibe, so we have a real excitement for that song." The new vibe is part of 25 years of progression.
"Phases are something you only see in retrospect," Takac explained of the band's evolution. "When you don't see your sister's kid for a few years, you might not recognize her, but it's business as usual for your sister.
"Bands that stay together are ones who know what they do," he added. "They change within their suit rather than change their suit."