/ Articles / Interview
By Phil Luciano (pluciano@pjstar.com)
of the Journal Star
Posted May 13, 2010 @ 01:29 AM

John Rzeznik looks across America and sees widespread, rising anxiety.

That's disappointing to the frontman for the Goo Goo Dolls, who play the Civic Center Theater May 16. He had campaigned for Barack Obama in the hope of change. No go - at least, not enough, not yet.

"It's a different guy, but the same thing," Rzeznik, 44, says with a sigh.

He has channeled his chagrin into songwriting for the upcoming Goo album, "Something For the Rest of Us." Perhaps more than the Buffalo, N.Y., band's previous recordings - they've sold 9 million units in the United States alone - the new release takes a look at societal shortcomings.

"It's addressing the angst and the uncertainty of every life in America," Rzeznik says. "It's what I'm observing. The psyche of the country is in an angst-ridden place. I think the economic uncertainty bothers people more than the risk of terrorist attack."

That's not to say the lingering wars overseas escape his scrutiny.

"We're stuck in two wars going on for almost a decade," he says. "I'll probably catch a lot of (stuff) for saying this. But if you can't kick their (expletive) in two years, you should give it up."

Still, Rzeznik isn't one for hitting listeners over the head with anthem. "I can't write a song that says, 'get the hell out of Iraq,' he says with a short laugh.

Instead, he relies on his strength: telling personal tales evocative of bigger themes. For example, the new album features the single "Not Broken," based on correspondence between Rzeznik and the wife of a solider in Iraq. She told him that her husband had been rendered paralyzed by a battle wound. Though he has returned to the States for treatment and rehab in Veterans Administration hospitals and halfway houses, he now suffers paralysis of another sort: fear.

"He won't come home, because he's afraid she won't see him as he was," Rzeznik says. "I wanted to speak for her, to write a love letter to tell him to come home."

Heavy stuff, but accessible. The song starts with the lightness of acoustic strumming, then crashes into an epic swirl of Who-like guitars.

That sounds like the classic Goo Goo Dolls touch: a marriage of a complex topic and ambiguous lyrics - think "Slide," with its ponderings of an unplanned teen pregnancy - atop a rock beat.

That formula is reflected on the new CD's "One Night," an uptempo rocker that examines modern culture's focus on superficiality at the expense of truth. The song begs, "You told me that the scars you bare are beautiful and real/ so turn the lights back on together and see the things you feel."

Comments Rzeznik, "What makes us beautiful are our scars, our damage. We live in a society that doesn't tolerate imperfection."

That's not to say fans will be able to sample the new tunes anytime soon. Rumors have put the album's drop date at mid-June. However, Rzeznik says he is still remixing the project. He wants to be extra careful with the first original Goo CD in four years.

"It turned out really good -- just a couple of things I wanted to fix," he says. Then he pauses, chuckles and continues: "I'm just being obsessive. Not Axl Rose obsessive. Not 'Chinese Democracy.' But I'm being walked away (from the studio). I'm being grabbed by the arm and gently walked away."

Still, some of the singles have been getting a thorough workout lately. The band played before thousands of spectators at the Final Four, then thousands more at an on-course concert just before the Masters tourney.

A tour looms for the summer, after the album drop. For now, the band continues a trek through smaller venues, including the Peoria stop.

For Rzeznik, theaters pose a welcome challenge unknown to arenas: the audience is closer, from the first row to the balconies.

"I can hear them. It's interesting to get feedback right away," he says. "Sometimes it's intimidating, when you get that close. But I love being close up."

Source: http://www.pjstar.com/entertainment/x1773731286/Goo-Goo-Dolls-wont-shy-from-social-angst
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