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25 years in, the rock band from Buffalo is still 'firing on all cylinders' and has just one regret

Jinelle Shengulette

In the 25 years since forming in Buffalo, the Goo Goo Dolls have sold 10 million albums in the United States, received four Grammy nominations and racked up 13 top 10 hits.

But there are still regrets. "It's tough to even say the name of our band sometimes, after all these years," says bassist Robby Takac during a recent phone interview.

"I think, if given another 15 minutes, we probably would have a different name. But I think it's a little late for that [laughs]. Today, it's just a label for the songs that we write."

Those songs include "Slide," "Name" and mega-hit "Iris," which spent 17 weeks at number one. The pop-rock trio — which also includes singer/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik and drummer Mike Malinin — will bring some of those hits, and some new favorites off its latest album, Something for the Rest of Us, to a students-only show outdoors at SUNY Brockport on April 17.

We talked with Takac from the road about the band's Buffalo origins, the new album and meeting fans.

How have you managed to stay together for 25 years? I think the long and short of it is, unless you really want it to still happen, it won't. And this is what I do; this is what I've been doing for my entire adult life. I feel pretty lucky that we're still here and still making music and people are still interested, and we're still able to do great shows and play for a variety of audiences, like this show at Brockport.

How did the city influence the band when it first started? I think living in the Northeast really allows you to play an awful lot. Within 300 miles of Buffalo, there are 15 gigs that you can play, making it into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Canada, all those places. So I think it really allowed us to become a pretty effective live rock band.

The Goo Goo Dolls are giving fans the opportunity to win meet-and-greet packages during the current tour. Do you have any memories about meeting fans that stick out? Any scary fan situations? Yeah, there's always some creepy stuff that happens [laughs]. But I prefer to just talk about the fact that if it weren't for people appreciating what we do, we wouldn't be able to do this anymore. So I think any time you can have a face-to-face with the people who are most excited ... I think it's a great opportunity. ... And it gives people who are excited about what you're doing a chance to stand a little bit closer to the situation.

Something for the Rest of Us, which came out last year, covers some heavy topics and has a darker tone than previous releases. What inspired that shift? I think it sort of follows suit with what's going on right now. ... We kind of write about the things we see around us. I think the things that touch us personally, the concepts, seem to be a lot larger and more sweeping than they were in the past. I think times are a little dark right now. ... But I don't think it's a negative record, I just think it's a pretty observant record. And we discuss problems, but I think we also offer some solutions. But maybe that's something that you have to listen deep to find.

Have you been writing new material? John's been actually writing on the road, which is something that's fairly new to this organization. We never really wrote too much when we were traveling. But that's sort of how the music industry operates these days — you gotta be firing on all cylinders all the time. ... You really have to be out there, reminding people that you're there to make music.
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