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By Spencer Sutherland • for In This Week

Long before the name Goo Goo Dolls was permanently attached to the phrase “platinum-selling artists,” the threesome was just another bar band in chilly Buffalo, N.Y. That all changed, however, thanks to a slew of massive hits in the mid-’90s and early 2000s, including “Name,” “Slide” and “Here is Gone.”

As the band nears its 25-year anniversary, bassist and founding member Robby Takac wonders where all the time has gone.

“It doesn’t seem real,” he says of the milestone, from a tour stop in Connecticut. “It’s amazing how fast 25 years flies by.” Though much of the past quarter-century has felt like a whirlwind, he still remembers the changes brought on by the band’s breakthrough hit in 1995.

“After 10 years of driving around in a van, trying to convince every kid in town to come check out your band, [having “Name” on the radio] was huge.” Unfortunately, the first thing he did with his newfound fame and fortune wasn’t all that glamorous.

“I paid off my studio loans,” he says with a laugh. “Those bill collectors were starting to get after me.”

“Name” would be only the beginning of the band’s reign of mainstream rock radio. Since that time, the Goo Goo Dolls have amassed 14 top-10 singles. Ruling the airwaves, however, does have some disadvantages.

“It’s funny when you hear your music in a grocery store or something,” Takac says. “That’s a highly self-conscious moment. The first time you hear yourself on the radio, you want to point around and tell everybody to check it out. But that wears off really quickly, and you can’t get to the radio fast enough to shut it off. You never want to get caught listening to your own band. It’s a little creepy.”

Over the past few years, the band has noticed a shift in the demographics at their shows. The longtime fans are still coming, but now they’re bringing along their kids.

“It sounds crazy, but there are a lot of families that come see us play. I had a lady tell me that because of our band, she feels like she has something to talk to her daughter about. The thing they do together is come to our shows. That moved me a little bit,” Takac says.

He adds that it’s not difficult to relate to the band’s younger fans, but the commonalities have changed.

“What happens is the point of reference changes a little bit. There’s a huge generation of kids who look at Blink-182 the way that I look at the Rolling Stones. That’s almost inconceivable to me. They don’t know about the Buzzcocks and they don’t wanna — ’cause that’s old music.”

But he doesn’t waste time letting a new generation’s lack of interest in rock history get him down.

“You just go with what people know and appreciate that they’re digging what you’re doing and embrace it. Everybody’s influences and stimuli are different. There’s no chance I could have a conversation about a Roberta Flack with a lot of these folks — but they don’t need to know about Roberta Flack. It was people from my generation who were stealing from those records.”

He does have advice for young bands, however.

“I hope the thing people take away from playing or touring with us is the idea that you’ve gotta work to make this happen. You can’t stop doing the things that help make the connection with your fans — reaching out, making people feel a part of what you’re doing when you’re onstage. Those fans are the ones that are going to make it possible for you to do this thing you love. You can’t become so important that it’s all about you. It’s not about you. It’s about everyone.”

After 25 years, thousands of shows and millions of records, there’s no doubt the Goo Goo Dolls know a thing or two about keeping fans happy.
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