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latest album: Dizzy Up the Girl
hometown: Buffalo, NY
lucious lineup: John Rzeznik (vocals, guitar), Robby Takac (bass, vocals), and Mike Malinin (drums)
sound bite: You know this Grammy-nominated band for the power pop ballads "Iris" and "Slide" and for their killer live shows. The former punk rockers have come a long way from their garage-band punk days in Buffalo.

What are your must-have items when you're on tour?
John Rzeznik: Protein powder, running shoes, books, CDs, headphones, pen, paper, and an aromatherapy diffuser, 'cause hotel rooms are totally gross and disgusting and always smell really funky.

What's the best summer concert you've ever seen?
JR: The Police. The first time I saw their show, they played all of their songs way too fast. I always thought that was completely cool.

So you're not a purist who thinks a song sucks if it doesn't sound like it does on the album?
JR: No, I dig the different interpretations of the songs live. Definitely, our live show doesn't sound like the record, but I don't want it to.

Touring is certainly a cool summer gig. What was your worst summer job ever?
JR: My first. I was 14 years old and working at the Lincoln Playground in Buffalo for $2 an hour. One day, the thugs in the neighborhood paid some kids a few bucks to take a crap in the pool, and I had to go clean it out. That was the worst! But I bought my first amp with the money, so I guess I can't complain too much.

Did you have any better luck with summer romance?
JR: When I was 24, I spent a summer working in a bar. I was really awkward and shy, so the job gave me an excuse to meet women. I met a girl who used to come in with her boyfriend all the time. We just started talking, and we hit it off. It was really intense. After making out with her, I could still feel her on my lips after she'd gone.

If you could do anything you wanted on a summer day, what would it be?
JR: I would go to the biggest amusement park I could find and ride all the scariest rides twice. What's funny is I really don't enjoy that stuff, but I force myself to do it because when I was a kid, I was totally terrified of rides. It helps me get past my fears. I do that a lot with things.

Like talking to girls?
JR: Yeah, I had to learn to accept rejection and believe in myself. I would psych myself up, saying, "Okay, if this girl doesn't like you, it doesn't mean that you're ugly, it just means she's not into you." And then I'd use the baseball analogy. I'd say, "If you hit three out of ten pitches thrown to you, as in three out of ten girls talk to you, then you're a star, so take it easy and don't feel bad if she looks at you and says, 'Get away from me.'"

If you could be known for only one song, which one would you like it to be?
JR: "Slide." I love that song. It's so stealth. I slipped some weird, heavy concepts into it that get past some people. Also I love the guitar solo in "Naked," 'cause I can't believe I actually pulled it off.
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