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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Goo Goo Dolls Make It Big

In 1986, three guys got together to form a band in Buffalo, N.Y. that would be destined to become a big name in music. That band was the Goo Goo Dolls.

Those three original members were vocalist/guitarist John Rzeznik, bassist/vocalist Robby Takac and drummer George Tutuska. After Tutuska separated from the Goo Goo Dolls, Mike Malinin stepped in and took his place behind the drum set.

During the time that they have been a part of the music scene, the Goo Goo Dolls have possibly discovered the secret to musical success.

“I think maybe it’s just that we stick around. We keep to what we like to do, we don’t go far beyond that,” Takac said during an exclusive phone interview with The Torch. “We keep to what we know we’re good at and I think we write some songs that maybe say some things that people might have been thinking and afraid to say themselves.”

For the Goo Goo Dolls, “Name” was the song that got them on the airways and into the heads of listeners. The song, which is off the album A Boy Named Goo, was released in 1995 and became a huge hit for the band.

However, A Boy Named Goo wasn’t the band’s first album. Even before that release, they came out with the albums Superstar Car Wash, Jed and Hold Me Up.

Success continued when “Iris” was released from the City of Angels soundtrack, gaining the band further recognition and many more female fans. Shortly after, in October 1998, the Goo Goo Dolls released the CD Dizzy Up the Girl, which included “Iris” as well as “Slide,” both of which hit number one. It also produced three other top 10 songs, “Black Balloon,” “Dizzy” and “Broadway.” That year, the album reached 15 on Billboard Top 200 and sold more than five million copies.

It was the combination of “Iris” and a hockey game that made bassist Takac realize that the Goo Goo Dolls had made it big.

“We were recording Dizzy Up the Girl and the Stanley Cup Finals were on. They [the winners] were skating around the rink with the Stanley Cup over their heads,” Takac said. “I was hearing this music in the background and I was like what is that and I was like oh my god I know what it is. It was ‘Iris.'”

Takac immediately turned to bandmate Rzeznik.

“I looked at John and I was like I think this is going to be good, man, seeing as our record’s not out yet and it’s on TV,” he said. “I think that’s when I noticed.”

Thanks to the hard work put into the creation of Dizzy Up the Girl, the group gained a considerably large fanbase.

“I’m a bit oblivious to it I guess,” said Takac. “I know that they’re out there but I don’t think I worry about it so much.”

Considering the size of the Goo Goo Dolls’ fanbase, it’s easy to see that the fans are certainly not oblivious to the members. As is the case with many rock stars, Takac has fans going to extremes to get noticed.

“One time I checked into a hotel and it was five o’clock in the morning. The elevator doors opened and there was a huge chalkboard in front of where the doors opened that said ‘Hi Robby’ on it,” Takac said. “They moved me to another floor…and there’s a knock on my door. I was like what the hell is that and I looked out the window and the same chalkboard was outside my door.”

In another city, a girl claiming to be the daughter of “Mellow Yellow” singer Donovan went to great heights to see the band – literally.

“One time his daughter crawled up the side of a hotel and onto our balcony. I don’t know if it was really his daughter, but that’s what she said,” said Takac. “We’re all sitting around just having a drink in the room and she scaled the building, crawled in.”

Although the stunts pulled by fans can be memorable, surviving is another memorable experience that Takac has had.

“On this tour we had a plane crash in Sicily,” he said. “We survived the plane crash in Sicily, all of us, which is probably the most memorable moment.”

Of course, with the memorable moments come the embarrassing ones that even rock stars have from time to time.

“The night we were in Providence, Rhode Island, I ran up to the microphone and said ‘we love you Boston,'” Takac said. “A hush came over the room. You could have heard my ego drop.”

As the Goo Goo Dolls have entered the world of music success, the relationships that they have with one another, as well as with others, have changed, although these changes have not necessarily hurt things.

“Any amount of success you get seems to put stress on your relationship, any relationship. I just think we’ve been pretty good at controlling the out-of-control passion that tends to exist in these situations and also we’re fairly cognizant of what each other needs,” Takac said.

According to Takac, knowing the needs of the other members of the band is one key to keeping things working.

“We’ve known each other now for 17, 18 years and if you pay a little bit of attention you sort of start to realize what the folks in your circles desire out of life,” he said. “If everybody can get those things then things are going to be alright.”

Being in the spotlight has not stopped Takac from becoming star-struck when meeting fellow musicians such as Paul McCartney, Elton John, Chuck D, Alice Cooper and Tom Petty.

“I respect anybody whose been doing this for awhile and has managed to not let the couple of pitfalls that happen along the way drive them away from doing what they love,” said Takac. “I think it’s amazing.”

Four years after Dizzy Up the Girl hit music stores, its songs can still be heard on the radio. However, if a Goo Goo Dolls’ song like “Black Balloon,” Takac’s favorite, started playing, you won’t hear him singing it in the car.

“I cannot make it to the volume knob fast enough,” he said. “What’s more embarrassing than driving down the street with the windows down and somebody seeing you listening to your own [song]?”

Even though Takac has sang a great deal during the band’s career and not just in his car, being a frontman of the group isn’t something that he desires.

“I’m a guy in a band,” said Takac. “I sang the majority of the songs for the first six, seven years of the band so I know what it’s like and I’m not envious of him [Rzeznik].”

As a bassist, Takac knows that in order to be a good bass player he does not need to standout on stage.

“Bass players are weird. Any bass player who stands out to me kind of sucks. I don’t think you should stand out when you’re a bass player. You and the drums are sort of one instrument.”

For Takac, music is the only possible career for him. Had he not been in the Goo Goo Dolls, other than “trying to get in a band,” Takac would still be doing something in music.

“I used to work in a recording studio so I would be doing that kind of thing, maybe working on radio,” said the media communications degree holder who graduated from Midia College in Buffalo.

The Goo Goo Dolls continued with their musical journey by releasing their new album Gutterflower, which fans may find has a slightly different feel than past recordings.

“We made a record called [What I Learned About] Ego Opinion Art and Commerce which was sort of a greatest misses kind of album,” Takac said. “We remixed a bunch of songs and I think that the biggest difference was when we listened to the tapes we were surprised that there were electric guitars all over the record that never made it through the mixes and we decided that, with this record, we weren’t going to let that happen again.”

Gutterflower presents a new sound that Takac feels is a job well done by the band. Others seem to agree with Takac since the album debuted at number four on Billboard’s Top 200 char
t when released in April 2002. Its first single, “Here is Gone,” climbed to number one and the new single, “Big Machine,” is also showing the talent of the band.

“I think this one we just wanted to have a bit more teeth, a bit more bite than the last record did and I think we did a good job of it.”

As long as things are working for the Goo Goo Dolls, they will continue with music, although how long they stay around may not be their decision.

“I think that will decide itself,” said Takac. “I think when we bring all our demos and we look at each other and laugh, maybe we’ll give it a shot but you know we talked about it in the past. We’re not young men anymore.”

In times when it seems as though just about everyone is in some sort of band, Takac has some advice for aspiring musicians.

“When you’re writing songs, make sure you’re writing songs you love and not just songs that you think are going to get on the radio because, if you are successful, you’re going to be playing them for the next 16 years and you don’t want to be playing something that you don’t want to play,” Takac said. “The other thing is don’t sign any piece of paper that’s set in front of you, anything, unless someone who understands the law has read it.”

During their 16 year career, the Goo Goo Dolls have definitely been doing some things right, which is evident by their albums as well as by their fans.

For more information on the Goo Goo Dolls, check out their website at:

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