/ Articles / Interview
Robby Takac, bassist for the Goo Goo Dolls, has to pause for a split second and think, “Where am I? Oh, Grand Rapids,” he replied with a laugh. But ask him again in a few more weeks, the answer may come harder.

This summer the Goos, as they are affectionately known, will be making a whirlwind tour that includes stops in Scotland, Ireland, Japan and England. Perhaps this tour should have been called “Dizzy up the Boys.”

Takac does look forward in mid-September to coming home.

“It may be via some other continent, but I will be there.”

Besides an exciting summer tour, the Goos have a single that was just released on the soundtrack for the new movie, The Transformers. And if that sounds like deja vu all over again, well… history does have a way of repeating itself. Their breakout song, “Iris,” was first released as a single on the soundtrack for the film, City of Angles, back in 1998. This was the one that catapulted them to rock star status. For a movie that promises to be a summer blockbuster, its soundtrack also has a few heavy hitters such as Smashing Pumpkins, Linkin Park, The Used and MuteMath.

Takac talked about the filming of the video for “Before It’s Too Late.”

“We shot the video on top of a building in the middle of Hollywood…with helicopters circling over our heads…smoke blowing.”

He admitted it was a little dramatic. Guys with guitars and smoke blowing do conjure up images of rock stars.

“You can computer generate your rock star image these days, “he quipped. “Eventually all entertainers will be generated by CGI anyway… there will be no need for entertainers.”

As much fun as making rock, smoke and circling copters are, Takac does seem to have his feet planted firmly on the ground. He has a lot going on besides gigs, recordings and tours. The Music is Art Festival at America’s Fair in Hamburg, New York will take place in August.

“It’s a little educational thing that I run…my father (Robert Senior) is running it for me with a staff, while Takac is on tour this summer. It’s a bunch of bands, artists, rappers, DJ’s…it’s in it’s fifth year…It’s the arts, dance, and the culture of western New York, integrated into the community and into the educational fiber of the community … We do a TV show through the University of Buffalo… a series run in over 80 high schools.”

 

Another grass roots operation that the whole band takes part in, and has for seven years, is a simple food donation program that cuts through the bureaucracy and goes straight to the stomachs of those in need. This is something Takac takes pride in – the lack of red tape and the direct help the program has provided in the local community.

“It’s with USA Harvest… we’ve raised 2.5 million meals…it’s a people-only type project…There’s no money changing hands… no red tape… it’s a down-home network of people helping the local food pantries. Some of our hauls are huge, some are smaller…there’s usually some incentives built in… we do some things through the local radio stations.”

Another community program that supports the arts has the Goos going home, back to Buffalo, New York, where they are building a recording studio.

“We’re building a recording studio, oddly, in the same location we recorded our first album 20 years ago …but the studio is a far cry from the one that we had… although most folks seem to be making records in their own home these days.”

He said that the studio would be made available for other musicians to use as well.

“Of course talk of recording leads to the talk that always eludes the artist…industry versus art. It’s a love-hate relationship that has been going on forever, made even more complex with the advent and ease of digital music, the Internet, and easy-to-transfer music files.”

At 42, Takac has a well-educated and definite opinion on this complex issue. After all, the Goos have been in the game for 21-years. Years which have witnessed the birth of CD’s and the Internet.

“There’s a whole a generation that’s gotten used to not having to pay for it… I knock on every piece of simulated wood in this hotel room, that a band like ours has been somewhat able to carve out a career in a relatively career-less industry…It’s partially the music industry’s fault. They doubled the price for something cheaper to manufacture, ship and store (CD’s vs. vinyl albums). Eventually greedy people got stomped down.”

Takac remembers back to a simpler time, just going out to play for the people.

“It was a different ball game back then. So many places to play, so many places for people 18 plus to be out enjoying their college life… There was a self-sustaining little core 50-60 bands; all those bands were touring.”

Today he has his own record label that’s been out for five years, but don’t label him, “the man.”

“Good Charamel Records… I put out about 12 records. I have a new project coming out…electronic clubby kinda records…I don’t listen to rock, I make rock music…I’ve got all the rock music I need doing this every night.”

Is this right? The guy who is considered the more Punk aspect of the Goos… likes “clubby”? So, what’s he listening to?

“Chemical Brothers, Basement Jack… kinda like alternative rock, dance groups…. It’s an interesting combination of electronic music and a little R&B.”

Takac is an interesting combination himself. He has a huge PEZ collection, over 2,000.

“My favorite is Casper the Friendly Ghost…I have a space alien that I like, a Dopey from the early 60′s…I did the voice for Peter Pez in the new Pez cartoon coming out on DVD in two months…I also collect Badtz Maru… a penguin, an evil penguin, a little character.”

If you visit the “Lobby” of his website, www.RobbysLobby.com, you can get an up close and personal look at a genuine Badtz Maru.

This is where he is reminded that there is a fine line between “collecting” and “crazy.”

“And I straddle that line proudly,” he laughed.

Previous article
Goo Goo Dolls bassist talks about weird tour stops, O.J., canned beets
Next article
Interview with Robby Takac