The Goo Goo Dolls is one of those bands that ignores trends, lies under the radar and never gets much hype. But that's a good thing: For more than two decades it's consistently served up melodic songs with a melancholy bite that stand up to just about anything out there. Hits including "Slide," "Iris" and "Name" still sound as good as when they first cracked the Top 10 in the mid- to late '90s. Now the Goos are back with their first album in four years, "Something For the Rest of Us," and hit Bayfront Park Saturday, Aug. 14 in downtown Miami. Lead singer Johnny Rzeznik talked to Miami.com about the tour.
Tell us about the new album.
I'm actually really proud of this record, because the work was not as autobiographical - I was sort of looking more outward and trying to write from the perspective of other people. And really kind of the underlying theme is dealing with the emotional fallout and the uncertainty of the troubled times we're living in. You know, the average person in America constantly lives with this sort of low-grade, chronic fear and anxiety in the back of their minds. And you can feel it. I got a great job, you know, but my industry is falling apart. And I just wanted to give a voice to that, to speak to that. I know that in hard times, there's always a rush for escapism, but I felt like I had to speak about the people who are going through these times, and let them know that somebody understands it.
Will we hear most of the new album at the show?
I think we're gonna play about half of it, and we gotta play all the hits. I mean, that's what people are paying 40 or 50 bucks to see.
When I first saw the title "Something For the Rest of Us," I figured it was a snarky commentary on the state of the current music scene, but after talking to you it seems like it's more than that.
It's sort of a commentary on both. It's like, I know what's going on out there in music, and we had a lot of interesting conversations with people at our record company where it was, "Why do you want us to work with an R&B producer?" Things like that were sort of floated as ideas, and it was like, "I am who I am, and I'm not gonna chase a trend." If the album is commercially successful, fantastic. But people ask us all the time, "Wow, how have you lasted so long?" And I'm like, "I don't know - I just do what I do." And sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. But that's all right.
You've hinted before that you wish the band had a better name, but once it's been established, it seems everybody just accepts it. How do you feel about it now?
You know, I've just accepted it. It's just like Smashing Pumpkins - now really think about that [laughs]. That's as silly a name as Goo Goo Dolls. But once people get used to it, it's just sort of there.
Did you actually think up names you liked better that you considered using instead?
Well, it was too late. Once a week I'll come up with a better name for my band, you know, and it just floats in my head and then floats out. And it's like, "Dude, you can't do anything about it, so just don't worry."
You guys have done some pretty cool covers, like Flesh For Lulu's "Postcards From Paradise" and Pete Townshend's "Rough Boys." What strikes you about a song that makes you say, "We should play that?" I'm a sucker for a big hook - I love it. I like writing hooks. that's the most fun part of my job, when I come up with a good hook and it's like, "Yes!" I love that. And I think that's because I grew up listening to AM radio in the '70s and 80s, when they still played music and it wasn't just Republicans screaming at each other.
When you guys started, if someone had told you that you'd still be around 25 years later, what would you have said?
I'd have laughed in their face.
You're from Buffalo, N.Y. Does the Miami heat and humidity bother you?
Yeah, man. I live in L.A.now, and I gotta admit I'm spoiled by the weather there. But I don't know, there's something about Miami, though, when it's really hot and you get that strong wind coming? There's something really awesome about that, especially at night. I really love that.
Yeah, it's sultry.
Mm-hmm. That's the word.