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Tribune correspondent

Published: August 2, 2013
"Put Your Arms Around Me/What You Feel Is What You Are/And What You Are Is Beautiful/Oh May/Do You Wanna Get Married." - Lyrics to the Goo Goo Dolls "Slide"

John Rzeznik didn't sing those lyrics to his longtime girlfriend Melina Gallo when they married last weekend but he has belted out those couplets to fans for 15-years. Rzeznik is an ace when it comes to crafting love songs. "Iris," "Name," "Slide," "Let Love In" and "Dizzy" are just some of the hit singles inspired by relationships that Rzeznik penned.

"I enjoy writing those type of songs and people can relate to them," Rzeznik said. "There's no down side to it"

It's quite a contrast to what the Goo Goo Dolls crafted when they were coming of age during the late '80s in Buffalo. Back then the band was a snotty punk band, which was reminiscent of the Replacements.

The Goo Goo Dolls was a gritty, uncompromising band. Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and original drummer George Tutuska, packed surnames, which sounded more like plumbers than rockers. "But it was never about names or image, it was about making the best music possible," Rzeznik explained. "That was what we went for."

The band paid extreme dues during their salad days. "I remember the van breaking down and freezing inside of it when the heat didn't work," Takac recalled. "If we didn't love what we did, we would have quit doing this a long time ago."

The band almost called it a day. After struggling for nearly a decade, the trio recorded "A Boy Named Goo." After the sessions, Rzeznik and Takac fired Tutuska in late 1994.

"I didn't know how much longer we were going to continue," Rzeznik recalled. "We signed a bad contract (with Metal Blade Records) and were really struggling. "It was really hard," Rzeznik said. "I gave myself until 1994 to make a living at music. If I didn't reach that goal, I was going to go to college and just get on with my life."

The Goo Goo Dolls finally scored a minor hit in 1993 with "We Are the Normal." "It was nice because I could sustain myself by the end of that year," Rzeznik said.

The breakthrough album "A Boy Named Goo" came a year later. The album included the act's first mega-hit, "Name," which changed everything. "It all started to fall into place after 'Name' hit," Rzeznik said. "We went from struggling to a really good place."

The Goo Goo Dolls added drummer Mike Malinin and toured. 'A Boy Named Goo' went double platinum.

"Everything changed for us," Rzeznik said. "We got out of our bad deal and signed a new deal (with Warner Bros. Records). It all changed for the better."

That's especially so sonically for the Goo Goo Dolls, who will perform Sunday at the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre. The band morphed from edgy alt-rock to a mainstream, adult-oriented rock-pop attack, which resulted in an array of hits.

"Due to all of this success our shows have gotten longer," Rzeznik said. "It's starting to feel like a (Bruce) Springsteen concert. We have a lot of songs to play but I have no issues with that. "I would rather have to play the hits than not have had the hits and be struggling. We just have a lot to play."

The band will also showcase cuts from its latest album, "Magnetic," which dropped in June. The disc is filled with love songs but the group has added some electronic touches that toughen up their sound.

"You need to evolve," Rzeznik said. "You don't want to make the same album over and over again. We've tried to avoid that over the years."

There has been only one lineup change since the Goo Goo Dolls formed in 1985.

"That's pretty amazing when you consider that bands make changes often," Rzeznik said. "We've learned to respect each other's boundaries. We've learned to complement each other. Robbie is the brother I never wanted. Mike is a great drummer. Why mess with it? Maybe we're together because no one else wants us. It's like a marriage."

Hopefully Rzeznik's marriage to Gallo lasts as long as his relationship with Takac.
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