"Something for the Rest of Us" will be the follow-up to 2006's "Let Love In," which marked the Goo Goo Dolls' 20th anniversary as a band. The album spawned several Top 10 singles, including "Better Days," "Stay With You" and the title track, which gave them their record-breaking 12th Top 10 hit on the Adult Top 40 chart. Their 13th, "Before It's Too Late," appeared on the "Transformers" soundtrack.
Rzeznik spoke to SoundSpike about "Something for the Rest of Us," the power of YouTube, and his band's recording "do-over."
SoundSpike: How's the tour going?
Johnny Rzeznik: It's going really, really great. The band is firing on all cylinders. People are showing up to see us. What more can I expect?
What can we expect from the show?
We've been doing pretty long shows, so I kind of feel like I want to make sure we play all the songs that people know. That's really what they're paying for. Play a bunch of the new songs. We've put together a pretty good show. It's going to look cool and it's going to sound great. I want to give people a good solid night out.
How are the new songs going over?
Really, really well. I got a little bit of education in the power of YouTube. The album isn't out yet and the single wasn't out yet. I was telling people, "This is a new song so bust out the video cameras and put it on YouTube." A couple weeks later, everyone was singing along with it. That's some direct action.
So you're a proponent of using YouTube to promote your album?
It's probably the only real resource left. [Laughs] Since the record companies are so broke, they don't have the budget to do it. MTV doesn't play music. I think the radio and the Internet are still the best ways to promote stuff.
How many new songs are you playing per night?
I think we're doing five now. Five new ones. But because the album isn't out 'til the 31st of August, I find myself alerting the crowd -- "OK. We're going to play a new song. You don't know it, but pretend to." --to prepare them a little bit. It's been going really, really well. The single's doing well. The version that everybody has heard, though, is the edit of the song. I'm one of those guys [who says], "I hate that. You're ruining my music, man." But they're like, "Well, it's too long to play on the radio. We have to cut it."
That has to be a bummer.
It's a bit of a compromise. I want people to hear the song. People can be enjoying it, but we do like the full-length version of it a lot.
Tell me about the new album. I understand there were four producers who worked on it?
There was Tim Palmer, Rob Cavallo, Butch Vig and us. There were, like, four producers, five studios. The guitar player in the band, Brad [Fernquist], he did a lot of additional production. He and I honed in a lot of guitar stuff and tried to tighten it up
Was it hard to produce yourself?
It's hard for me because I will sit there for 12 hours working on one note. Sometimes you need people who are sometimes not intimately involved in it to kind of pull you out and regain your focus in the bigger picture.
What did each producer bring to the music?
It's hard to say. It's hard to say. They bring their own energy into the room. Nowadays, I feel I use a producer more as a referee than to get a lot of song ideas out. [Laughs] They help out with the arrangements a little bit. Add a little something here and there. The band is pretty self-contained, but I'm still shying away from producing the band ourselves. My biggest worry is it'll end up in a big fight. [Laughs]
Why did you work in different studios?
We have a studio in Buffalo. That was really great, but the guy that was producing the record didn't want to be in Buffalo any more. So, we came back out to California and worked out here for a little while. Then we mixed the album with him. Sat down and listened to it. I was not satisfied with it and neither were the other guys in the band. We weren't satisfied with the way it turned out. We sat back, took a really long look at it, went back to the studio and rebuilt it to something that I feel is much better. Wrote a couple new songs and redid a lot of the tracks that were already recorded, and had another guy mix it. It was interesting going in the studio with Butch. I think Butch and Rob Cavallo are really amazing producers. When you're in the room with them, they give you this sense of confidence. They give you this sense of, "This is important. This is good and we're going to make it great." That really kind of rubs off on the whole band. Approach it in a very confident sort of manner.
What was the vibe in the studio?
You constantly try ideas out. A lot of rejection and all that kind of stuff. You hear something in your head and it's not coming out. You find yourself face down on the floor beating your head on the floor, "I don't get it. I don't get it. It's just not right." To have somebody help nurture from that edge is good.
The "do over" must have been frustrating, but good at the same time.
Yeah, yeah. I mean, it delayed the release of the album by six months. I'm glad we did it because it just wasn't right the way it was.
It's better to do that than regret what you have released.
Yeah, exactly. I think you can relate to this as a writer. How many times have you typed out a story and just went, "Forget it. Let's start over again. It's just not right." You know it's not right. You know what you're capable of.
What was the inspiration behind this album?
There was a lot. It came on that things were getting a little more topical. The things I wanted to address were the emotional impact of the uncertain times that we live in -- more on a personal level than making some grand political or social statement. The best way I can put it is: It's about people who are trying to hang on to their humanity during a time when it's getting harder and harder to stay human.
Tell me about the songwriting process.
It was difficult. We went to Buffalo and camped out for a couple months and did the majority of the writing. Then did some more writing out here at home. Then I kind of had a lot of nervous breakdowns, little small ones. Then you get up and go, "Holy shit. I have a deadline." Then you get it together and do some work.
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