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When the Goo Goo Dolls recorded its last album, 2013’s “Magnetic,” it broke with its long-standing practice of writing an album worth of songs before heading into the studio. It instead decided to develop and record the songs, producers in tow, as they went, bassist Robby Takac says.

The result was a Top 10 disc (its fourth straight) that produced a Top 20 Adult chart hit with “Come to Me.”

The Goo Goo Dolls took the same approach for its new album, “Boxes,” Takac says. The new album not only gave the Goo Goo Dolls its highest-charting single in more than eight years with “So Alive,” but also let the group evolve into a more mature sound and less need to be raucous.

Takac says Goo Goo Dolls fans have accepted change throughout the band’s career. The band started as a punk rock unit in 1986 and put out four albums before mellowing on its fifth album, 1993’s “A Boy Named Goo,” and finding a broader audience with the Top 5 hit “Name.”

It followed that with 1998’s triple-platinum disc “Dizzy Up the Girl” and its chart-topping hits “Iris,” “Slide,” “Black Balloon” and “Broadway.” In the nearly 20 years since, the Goo Goo Dolls has produced 13 Top 20 Adult charts.

In a recent call from Birmingham, England, where the band was on a short run of shows before a full U.S. tour that comes to Sands Bethlehem Event Center on Nov. 17, Takac spoke about the new album and the group’s more-than-30-year history.

Here’s a transcript of the call:

LEHIGH VALLY MUSIC: So let’s jump into this. Let me talk about your newest album, “Boxes.” Tell me what you were looking to do. Did you do anything differently and how do you think it came out? Just tell me about the disc.

ROBBBY TAKAC: “Yeah, I think the idea of what this record is kind of began prior to the ‘Magnetic’ record [in 2013]. ‘Magnetic’ we went in and  worked with a few different producers, kind of worked on a song at a time instead of actually having 15 songs where we’re trying to crawl out from under.

“So we kind of did a song or two at a time with a host of producers and had a great time making the record. I think we really refined that process when we went in and started working on ‘Boxes.’ Met some people we really enjoyed working with, and it turned out well.”

Sonically, is there anything your did differently or were looking to do differently?

“Well, I think there’s a lot more options out there these days to incorporate different types of things into your music. The digital process versus the analog process that we grew up with – going in and capturing what your band sounds like. Like the recording process has almost become part of the songwriting process now. And so we’ve tried to embrace that. You know, use what’s good and applicable to what we do, you know, as a stepping stone to the next thing.”

 I read some reviews that said the album sounded as if you guys are embracing your age. You know, that you’re not trying to be raucous rockers anymore. Do you think that’s a fair statement?

“Well, I think as we’ve grown up, we’ve just tried to keep our band growing up with us. You know, it’s been over 30 years this year and it feels like there’s still somewhere we’re going, you know? I think that’s rare for a band – to be together for that long and feel like there’s still room to do something new and something different.

“I think a lot of that is because maybe that’s -- to decode what you said [laughs] – maybe that’s part of it. We don’t mind this thing progressing as we progress as people. And although people will always want us to come out and play ‘Iris’ or play ‘Slide’ or ‘Name’ or whatever, it’s like, you know, they still seem to be open – the crowds and the fans – to enjoying new music. And I think a lot of bands their new music, the fans aren’t that excited to hear [laughs].

“Like it never really feels that way with us. And so I think whatever we’re doing, it seems to be working, I think.”

Yeah, I have to admit, I think [the song] “So Alive,” it sounded like you guys, but it had a little bit of a different sound  to it, an I liked the idea that it was a little bit of a departure or a progression or  whatever you want to call it.


So tell me about “So Alive.” Why did you guys choose that as the first single. What was the story behind it?

“It was the last song that we had recorded for the record. John [Rzeznik, singer] worked on that song with [songwriter/producer] Gregg Wattenberg  in New York. And quite often the last song that you worked on and the last song that you hand in is the one they get excited about. [Laughs]

“Um, I’m not sure why they picked that one, quite honestly. A good song, it did pretty well for us. I believe the next single’s gonna be ‘Over and Over’ – actually the first song from the record.  So we’re pretty excited about that, too.”

Yeah, well, that’s what your publicity material says – that “Over and Over” is going to be the next single. And tell me about it – what was behind that song?

“ ‘Over and Over’ is the first song that John and I have actually written together in a long time – probably 10 years.  Yeah, I don’t know, it feels like a raucous feel to it, you know? A little bit more than the rest of the record, maybe. I don’t know – there’s just something about that song. People hear it, and they’re like, ‘Oh, well, OK, that’s a good one!’ [Laughs] You can see it on peoples’ faces, you know?

“It’s got a big yell-y, screamy, anthemic chorus and, you know, all that tasty stuff that people know from us kind of sprinkled in and out of it. So I don’t know – I think it’s going to do good for us.”

Since we’re talking about that – your publicity material says that you guys are having some type of contest to create a video for it?

“Yeah. We’re reaching out to young film-makers. You know, got a cash prize and looking for cools stuff. There’s so many amazing film-makers out there right now and the tools have become so accessible to people  to make, you know, high, high, high quality stuff with very, very little software and very, very little hardware. Cameras and you can make a video on your iPhone these days if you’re talented enough.

“So we decided to open it up, man, and see what we get. And I don’t know – we just have a great feeling about it.”

Was there anything that prompted that?

“Uh, maybe having made many, many videos and paid many, many people to come up with ideas that you [laughs] think you know what you’re going to get, and then when it comes to you getting the finished product, you didn’t get what you thought you were gonna get.

“We really liked our last video – the ‘So Alive’ video – we really liked that one. We made that in Buffalo with a bunch of our friends and we think it turned out really, really well. But quite often you make a video and you end up with something and you’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is not what I was expecting,’ you know?

“So we thought with this approach, we sort of get to see the finished product before your decide. And maybe give some people some opportunities to break into a pretty competitive and tightly knit business.”

Yeah. You … before we get off the subject of the new album – this is the first album you put out in more than 20 years without [former drummer] Mike [Mailinin]. Did that have any effect on it?

“You know, due to the change in the process … I mean, yes, of course. But, like, much less probably than it would have five years prior. As I said, we sort of changed the songwriting process a little bit where there was a lot of working with producers and working in their studios, sort of crafting songs and then kind of playing the drums to them later.

“So although it was a little bit different, I think that the way we had gone and done ‘Magnetic’ had prepared us for that situation. So I don’t think that it really affected it in a bad way. “

I read about his leaving, and I was wondering whether you could tell me in your words what was the reasoning behind that and how that came about.

“Ehhh, just time, man. Our first drummer made it 10 years. Mike made it 20. So hopefully  Craig [Macintyre, the current touring drummer] will make it 30. We’ll see [laughs]. I hope.”

Yeah. I hope so, too. You talked about the 20th anniversary of [the album] “A Boy Named Goo.” What prompted you to celebrate? I mean, obviously, the number came up. But was that something you had thought about doing? Was that a milestone?

“Yeah, we’re not much for celebrating anniversaries. Your know, our 25th and 30th anniversary as a band sort of came and went pretty quickly [Laughs]. You know, we didn’t really celebrate it or let anybody know. But I think as far as an albums goes, you know, it’s two-fold. Obviously that was big moment for us and I think the other thing is, with the advent of vinyl being popular again, the select market – the special pieces market – in the record industry becoming a much stronger component, I think it just made a lot of sense to do that.

“And we actually have an all-vinyl career retrospective box set coming out, too. It should be out in the next, probably, five, six months. So we’re pretty excited about that.”

Wow. What’s that going to be like? Is it going to be a collection of everything you’ve done, or just select stuff or what?

“Everything – all our albums on vinyl, to be released in, I guess, a two-box set is what it looks like it’s going to be.”

Wow, that’s very cool. So talk about anniversaries – you guys are right around 30 year. You gonna let this one pass, too?”

“Yeah, yeah – it already did, actually. It passed already – quietly. [Laughs]. Yeah.”

So you guys, as you say, you’ve been around as a band long enough that you can change – or you can do something different. So I have to ask you about the longevity of the band and why you guys have been able to stay around this long. And, to have had so much success – whatever, 20 Top 20 songs. What has been the secret for you guys?

“Well, one, John writes great songs, you know. I guess, two, we can go out there and play those songs in a convincing way. And that’s how you can do it for a long time, I think.  And I think No. 3, it’s just the chemistry, man. At whatever point one of us decides to give up, the other one figures out a way to convince the other guy that we should keep doing it.

“And it’s been both of us. But we’ve managed to keep it strong and managed to find a reason in our hearts to keep doing it. And not just to make money, or not just to … I don’t know, I guess it’s to prove a point to ourselves or something like that. I think as long as we feel strong about that, I think, you know, we’re going to be able to do this.

“And lastly, we’ve got amazing, unbelievably loyal and awesome fans. And without that, we can’t do this. We’d all have to go home and figure out what the hell we’re gonna do [laughs]. So I never lose sight of that, for sure.”

Very cool. I’ve always enjoyed every time I’ve seen you – speaking of which, you guys played in Bethlehem in 2012 – you guys played our Musikfest festival. And I don’t know whether you remember this, but it was the show in which you had a kid open for you who had no arms and played the guitar …

 [The teen, George Dennehy, was an 18-year-old who, born without arms and orphaned in Romania, traveled from his Virginia home to take the stage with the band for the song “Iris” at Musikfest

“Oh, George – yeah. Yeah, man. That was a trip. That’s actually up on YouTube – you can see it. Yeah, that was wild, man. We kept in touch with him. That was very cool.”

GOO GOO DOLLS, with Safety Suit, 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, Sands Bethlehem Event Center, 77 Sands Blvd. Bethlehem . Tickets: $35-$55 (only single seats available; other areas sold out), www.sandseventcenter.com, 800-745-3000.
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