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Goo Goo Dolls continue to connect with music

By Jocelyn Murphy

One of the biggest songs of the 1990s -- and possibly the most recognized song of The Goo Goo Dolls' career -- "Iris" has maintained a steady level of popularity over the years and is one song fans can expect to hear toward the end of the show at the Dolls' Tuesday night stop at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. It was this alternative (or angsty, depending on your age, I suppose) jam that rocketed The Goo Goo Dolls to fame just over a decade after they began releasing music.

"A song like 'Iris,' that's not about a song," says Robby Takac, bass player and supporting vocalist of the group since its inception in 1986. "We've written plenty of great songs since then, but there's something that happens when something becomes that big and that omnipresent. It's a series of event that you couldn't re-create."

The Dolls are back on tour in support of their newest album "Boxes," released in May. You might think after 20 years of being expected to play the same songs -- along with "Iris," their sixth album "Dizzy Up the Girl" also gave the world the megahits "Broadway," "Black Balloon" and "Slide" -- that the recently duoed group might want to focus more on their new material.

"Although it casts a long shadow, sometimes it's nice to have that shadow to jump in and out of," Takac says of the major hits from their record-breaking sixth album. "If you can't derive some joy out of somebody sharing this moment in both your lives -- because it's a reflection of a time in my life, too -- and celebrate that for three minutes while you're doing your show, then maybe it's time to start looking for another job. It's about sharing those moments with people, and it's also an opportunity to show them what you're up to now."

In the three decades since the group started making music, it would seem that their anthemic alternative pop/rock sound hasn't changed much, even if everything else in their world has. "Boxes" is the group's first studio album without drummer Mike Malinin, who was with the band for 18 years and left in 2013. After taking some time to musically connect with their friend and new drummer, Craig Macintyre, Takac says he thinks the band sounds better than it has in a decade. Besides their personnel changes though, technology and the industry itself have changed significantly since the '80s, forcing Takac and his band mate John Rzeznik to be adaptable.

"The business is constantly surprising me at this moment," Takac says. "How much is out there that used to be controlled by record studios -- a lot of this has fallen to the public. The business has really had to find a new level for itself, and I don't necessarily think it has yet. It's always going to exist -- people love music. [It's] our outreach to [fans that] has changed. You used to stamp your band name on something and throw it into the distribution chain, but now you can reach directly to the fans. They know where to find us."

Takac says social media and the Internet have completely changed the way the band is able to interact with fans. The Dolls' got involved in the internet early in their career so it didn't come as a surprise to them when it became such an important tool for the industry. What did surprise Takac, he says, is the relationships he saw forming through fans connecting with each other and even the people Takac himself has met and connected with along the way through social media.

"That relationship that you talk about exists, and for some people, it's existed for 20 years," he says. "The thing that doesn't change is you can make a connection with them, and when you speak to someone lyrically or musically, you can make a connection and you can keep it."

NAN What's Up on 09/02/2016
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