The rise to fame sometimes has the unfortunate side effect of causing artistic merit, and indeed personal integrity, to be obscured by clouds of currency and buzz. To dodge the bullet and still keep making the Hit Parade is far less common.
For Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac, this career path has made all the difference in setting his group apart from their peers in the pop rock ‘n’ roll field.
“Radio trends form your band sometimes,” Takac said. “We have been in sort of a bubble for a while. A lot of the music we listen to doesn’t sound like what we make. I feel like this kind of music is custom made for us.”
While their sound may fit like a velvet glove, the Goo Goo Dolls’ long-standing run of hit records and singles, stretching back to their 1995 breakthrough “Name,” sometimes overshadows a history much longer and varied.
From their Replacements-clone early days as Sex Maggot and subsequent name change to stand more of a chance landing a record deal, the band has rolled forward and evolved in the spirit of constant experimentation while managing to develop a cohesive sound that has translated into multi-platinum sales and sold-out tours across the world.
This summer the band is set to deliver its ninth studio album, “Something For the Rest of Us,” which Takac said has a number of auditory curveballs that will keep listeners on their toes but always pleased.
“We have one song with a Motown kind of groove, like the Temptations,” Takac said. “We’ve been opening with ‘The Sweetest Lie’ (from “Something”). It’s really satisfying to give the crowd something they might not know. With the new song, a lot of people know the words and sing along from seeing them on YouTube and the Internet.”
Though the band’s string of successes has put them in a spot rife with pigeonholing, Takac said they don’t put too much thought into critical response when working on new material.
“I have a stack of reviews at home that goes back to 1986,” Takac said, “that say the new album sounds the same as the last, but that’s never the case. Becoming the band you need to become means you gotta put that shit out of your head, so you can make that record you need to make.”
In the course of recording “Something For the Rest of Us,” the band decided that more work needed to be done. Though they expected it to release in January, when finishing the record, they found themselves “knee deep in the songs again.”
“We had a rough release date, and we thought it was going to come out,” Takac said. “We had some down time and opened some sessions, and we ended up recording a song with Butch Vig.”
Though several producers lended their touch to the boards while recording, Tim Palmer (Robert Plant, the Cure) primarily helmed the majority of the record. Takac said Palmer’s non-intrusive style helped produce a sound that is truer to their live sound than other records.
“When a producers works with us, they have a sort of singular vision of how we’re going to sound, and when they realize that’s not the case, they spend a lot of time playing catch up,” Takac said. “Tim’s more like ‘let’s hunker down and make a record.’”
As their repertoire has expanded, so have the band’s set.
“There are some songs we’ve got to play, or else I think some people would jump on stage and kill us,” Takac said with a laugh. “And there are songs we love to play. This is the first time in the history of our band that we’re not staying up until seven in the morning.
“Not trying to live like Motley Crue makes for a better rock band, because the party short sells the crowd. Sometimes there are too many war wounds.”
The Goo Goo Dolls will play the Tennessee Theatre May 4. Tickets are sold out, but there are most always scalpers about who would love to cut you a deal.
Goo Goo Dolls walk line between art, pop
Published: Fri Apr 30, 2010