When Goo Goo Dolls bass player Robbie Takac called me last Thursday morning he was preparing for another big summer tour, this time weeks on the road with Daughtry and Plain White Tees playing amphitheaters across the US. It’s become a regular routine for Goo Goo Dolls, who don’t seem to be slowing down even 28 years into their career. Last summer with the release of their latest album Magnetic they did 30 dates through the US and Canada co-headlining with ever popular 90’s pop-rockers Matchbox 20. For Goo Goo Doll’s amphitheaters have become familiar places. Since Dizzy up the Girl launched them into the stratosphere of rock stardom they’ve done no looking back, following that up with album after album that doesn’t let down. How they got to where they are and have maintained what they’ve accomplished is the secret.
According to Takac it’s the fact that they’ve never been “the biggest band.” 90’s nostalgia is all the rage these days and when you think about Goo Goo Dolls you do think about their 90’s success, and their current setlist includes those hits, but it’s just as easy to note their post 2000 songs and albums of substance. Now, they’re at a point in their career where they’ve covered 4 decades with different levels of success, having sold over 10 million albums on the way. While the first half of their career was riddled with drama and struggle, the second half has remained enjoyable and comfortable. The 1986-1999 era of Goo Goo Dolls was well documented in VH1’s dramatic Behind the Music that showed the bands early struggles, to lead singer Johnny Rzeznik’s writers block, which ended when he wrote the bands biggest hit “Iris” and followed it up with 3 more hits off the same album. In hindsight they could have just as easily been one of the 90’s bands with one hit with the song “Name” or if that song hadn’t been discovered they would have fallen into the category of forgotten bands with untapped potential. Thankfully those times were the beginning of the story and not the end.
Robby Takac remembers the first time he felt like the band hit a new peak when he heard their song playing over the loudspeaker at The Stanley Cup finals. It was the beginning of a whirlwind that took the band up to another level, where they’ve managed to stay even today. Their career arc now rivals bands like R.E.M. and U2, but still Goo Goo Dolls are different. Other than their music, they stay out of the spotlight, unless it’s for something positive. Because they aren’t uber-famous they’ve been able to shed the harsh judgement of the outside world and be themselves, focusing on their music alone and going about their business. 28 years is an eternity for a band that’s released an album every 2-3 years, but they don’t seem anywhere close to the twilight of their years. While summer is reserved for the big amphitheater shows, Goo Goo Doll’s still find ways for intimate concerts. Like in their early punk rock days, they’ve always found a way to stay in touch with their fans. They started out this year with a well orchestrated acoustic tour, where they took the show on tour in a storytellers like setting. With tractor trailers carrying the stage setup and lighting, the band went from town to town playing smaller shows for fans. It’s these settings and smaller radio shows where they enjoy the closeness with the people who helped mold their lives into what they are today.
These days when they’re not on the road bass player Robbie Takac lives in his home town of Buffalo, New York where he works with his non-profit Music is Art and his record label Good Charamel Records which focuses on Japanese Rock. In fact one their bands Shonen Knife hits the road in America later this year with a full US tour that includes the annual Music is Art festival in Buffalo. For Takac he’s come full circle, giving back to the town that shaped his youth and the early years of his band.
Goo Goo Dolls play Family Circle Stadium on Daniel Island outside of Charleston, SC Tuesday June 17, 2014.
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