/ Articles / Interview

The Goo Goo Dolls had a unique name before carving out an inimitable niche in rock 'n roll.

The alternative rock band came together in 1986 in Buffalo, N.Y., formed by vocalist and guitarist John Rzeznik and vocalist and bass guitarist Robby Takac.

Takac said the band did not agonize over what has become its distinctive brand name.

"We always say if we catch the SOB who named us we'll let him have it," Takac said. "We're a punk rock band so to us it's kind of funny to have a name that's incredibly inappropriate. We thought it was funny. If we had 20 more minutes we'd probably have come up with a better one."

The Goo Goo Dolls have 14 top-10 singles and have sold nearly 9 million albums in the United States - most since the end of 1994 when Mike Malinin became drummer succeeding George Tutuska.

Their most popular songs include "Name" from 1995's A Boy Named Goo, "Iris" and "Slide" from 1998's Dizzy Up The Girl, which produced five top-10 singles, and "Here Is Gone" and "Big Machine" from 2002's Gutterflower.

It's been nine years since the Goo Goo Dolls broke through with a top-10 single. Takac isn't going to sweat it if this album, which has been well-reviewed, doesn't break the streak.

"Like all our records it's the next step in what we're doing," Takac said. "If what we do is something you can enjoy or relate to, this is our next attempt at making that happen through some pretty trying times. We try to grab on to those concepts and ideas that affect people and currently it's the struggle just to exist."

Touring mates include Michelle Branch and the up-and-coming band Parachute. The closest they come to Boca Grande is an Aug. 6 date at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg..

"We've known Michelle on and off over the years, in and out of each other's circles," he said. "She happens to be on the Warner Brother label as well, which is a circumstance that helped put us together. Parachute has a single that's climbing. On the whole, it's a pretty great show."

Few bands manage to endure a quarter-century as the Goo Goo Dolls have. The band's long-running success has been a surprise to its founders.

"I don't think anybody thinks that far ahead - ever," Takac said. "Especially back then when we were so young. We were just starting our adventure back then as human beings. No one ever expects it will become what it has. You never know what surprises are around the corner. In the 1990s we were asking how much longer are we gonna last and now we're in the third phase of our career. "

Longevity has been built on talent applied diligently in recording studies and concert venues.

"John writes amazing songs and people tend to relate to it and the subjects he writes about," Takac said. "The band has great delivery mechanisms for those ideas. Most importantly, we all want this to happen. The minute somebody doesn't it stops."

Takac said he's gown up on the concert tour but has not become jaded.

"It's crazy, right?" Takac said. "But it's different now. I'm 46 now. The most important thing back then was we got a couple cases of beer after the show and somebody else to take the gear home. I've been doing this my entire adult life and we look at a it a little different way today. We take it a little more seriously then we did in 1986. To me it's the same because we've never been out of it."

Keeping it fresh night after night is not a problem for the Goo Goo Dolls, a band that relates closely with its recession-stricken fan base. He chides bands that phone it in.

"I think if you lose touch with what makes that relationship between yourself and that person who made the decision to spend their hard-earned money and spend time with you, you need to take a look at what you're doing," Takac said.

The Goo Goo Dolls' massive 2011 summer tour is expected to be among the biggest this summer. In addition to strong ticket sales, Takac hopes for the uncontrollable.

"Good weather with reasonable humidity," he said with a laugh. "Most of our concerts are outside.. Just playing outside in the summer is super fun. People love laying out under the stars and listen to rock.

"Summer tours are awesome. We've been lucky enough to fall in to that trend. As far as our business goes it's an incredibly important thing. We've been able to go out and further this thing a little bit every summer."

His favorite venue will always be his hometown, he said.

"I just love doing shows in Buffalo," Takac said. "Every time we go home something magical happens. Folks in our hometown have been behind us seriously. We had them convinced we were successful way before the rest of the world."

Takac said success almost snuck up on him and the rest of the Goo Goo Dolls.

"My parents will tell you they knew we made it when we were on the Johnny Carson Show," said Takac with a laugh. "But it was Jay Leno. My parents just never made that transition."

Takac had a day job for the first 12 years the band was together. He was a dee-jay, recording engineer, sold hot dogs, worked in a flower shop, as a bar-back and in construction.

"And I felt wildly successful then," he said. "I don't know if there was ever a moment when we said 'Holy cow this is actually working.' It happened so slowly."

Gigs were bountiful and the Goo Goo Dolls usually spent two weeks on the road at a time in the beginning. Each time he returned, Takac said he'd have to rebuild some aspect of his life.

"I'd have to go back and find a girlfriend, place to live, jobs," he said with a laugh. "All the stuff I lost when I was on the road."

Road antics almost caught up with him seven years ago, he said, and he was fortunate the people who care about him brought him back to Earth.

"Well, we were wild," he said. "Seven years ago I had a revelation I was going to die if I didn't calm down. I'm not going to say life on the road is not without its craziness. But it's not 1995 anymore. When you finished a show back then it was like party time. You get into that habit, and then it's party time with you and the five guys in the bus. It's carries over. It never stops. At some point you have to take a look at your health and your sanity. You have to make sure you do what you have to do to give the effort night after night and do it correctly."

Previous article
Next article
Goo Goo Dolls amp up Park City