By Thomas S. Orwat, Jr.
The multi-platinum selling band from Buffalo, NY – The Goo Goo Dolls, will be releasing their ninth studio album this week. ‘Something for the Rest of Us’ is a 12 track, hit-filled, mature and profound CD that will help catapult the band to a new and exciting level. The Goo Goo Dolls spent over two years perfecting this CD, and it was time well invested. Audiences that have seen the band perform this summer have had the honor of hearing many of the new songs, and have reacted in a very positive manner to the new material. The band’s current single, “Home,” is in high rotation on many adult contemporary radio stations throughout the country, and the video is climbing the Vh1 top 20 countdown.
The Goo Goo Dolls are currently on a massive tour of North America that started in April, and will conclude on Oct 30 in Salamanca, NY. The band will then head over to the UK for a brief tour.
During a break from his hectic schedule, our good friend and Goo Goo Dolls bassist/songwriter, Robby Takac, was kind enough to call us here, at RockMusicStar. We discussed the new CD, plus much more. Here’s what Robby had to say:
RockMusicStar: The Goo Goo Dolls have been touring for a few months now, but without the luxury of having a new record on the shelves. How has the tour been going, and how has the fan reaction been to the new material?
Robby Takac: It’s been great. We’ve been traveling since April. It was the only way that we could stop from working on the new record, which we have been working on for a year, now. But, this is a brand new way of doing things- touring before the record hits the shelves. It was kind of a terrifying proposition. People kind of look at you like a confused dog, when you play a song that they don’t know. But, I thought that it was kind of cool, to see the whole thing organically grow, through YouTube, and people’s blogs, and things like that. I think that we are seeing a new model, as far as the way people see and consume music. I guess it’s just up to the creative folks in the music industry, to figure out how to harness it. It’s ok for me out here, because I’m out here making rock music in this carnie world, but the record industry has shrunk exponentially over the years.
RMS: Yeah, it’s not just the record industry, but it seems as the concert industry is struggling, as well. So, you have these two major parts of the music industry that are just crumbling, now. Do you sense that people in those industries are starting to panic?
RT: Well, I think there are two sides to what you are talking about here. I think the current model of those industries are lopsided, weird, and they don’t jive well with the current conditions and technologies that are out there, right now. I think music as a whole, has more impact on people right now; probably more now than it ever has. Because there are some pretty intense moments going on, and people are living through some crazy shit now. People reach for music now more than ever, when it’s times like these. I think the concept of music, versus the concept of the music industry, is that I think people are really into music, and the same goes for concerts. We haven’t had a record out in almost three and a half years now. We just dropped our first single a couple of weeks ago, and we’ve been touring since April, and we are doing pretty well. We are doing 3,000-15,000, depending where we are. But, we don’t charge an arm and a leg. We are not charging $150 a ticket; we never have. The way we look at it is, we want a lot of people there to see our band play, so we are not going to overcharge people. I, unfortunately, don’t have control over any of the other charges or expenses that surround it. But, we try to make it an affordable show for people to go to. I’m knocking on wood, but we seem to be doing pretty good. I think that the current model for the concert industry has priced itself out, and now they are doing things where they are practically giving away tickets now, and people are going to expect that now. The business has sort of eaten itself, in a weird sort of way, in order to save itself. But, the one thing that you can’t download is the experience of going to concert. It seems like people still appreciate that, because they are standing on their chairs, with their hands in the air. The business will still exist, it’s just a question of who will be able to harness it the right way, to make it operate effectively, and not in a out of control manner, like the music business used to be, because they really took their eye off the ball.
RMS: Back to you new CD, ‘Something for the Rest of Us.’ Wasn’t the original game plan to record the CD here, in Buffalo, and have you and John produce it?
RT: We worked in Buffalo on our last record, ‘Let Love In.’ We wrote the majority of songs in Buffalo, and then we went back to LA and recorded the record. So, with this record, we wanted to write the songs in Buffalo- not all of them, but a lot of them- and record the songs there. Because, last time we felt that when we brought the songs from Buffalo to LA, something got lost in the Bi-coastal translation. So, the original idea was to record these demos that we were doing, and maybe use them for the record. We didn’t know. So, what we did was, we went into the studio with Paul Hagar, who is our live sound man and travels with us. He’s done our last couple one-off recordings with us. We ended up going into the studio with him for a while. We recorded 25-30 ideas- they weren’t really songs- we just started pulling stuff together. At that point, we brought in producer, Tim Palmer. We spent a couple weeks with him, working in our practice space out in LA. Then, we came to Buffalo, and spent about 12 weeks recording the basic tracks, for what ended up being about 90% of the record. We did all the drums there, all the bass there, a lot of the guitars. No singing- most of that was in LA. But, we did get that feeling that we wanted.
RMS: Why did it take so long for the CD to be released? Wasn’t it scheduled to be out months ago?
RT: Well, after we finished the record, Tim Palmer moved to Austin, TX. We were sitting around rehearsing, and getting ready to play these new songs live, and we started listening to some of the mixes, and Warner Brothers said that they didn’t want to release the record until later on- perhaps in the spring. So, we were sitting here with these files, and there were some things that we wanted to change. So, we decided to have our keyboard player, who just came off of a tour with Katy Perry, come in and play on some songs, and before you know, we had all the songs files open again and we were re-working every track. We also had our friend, Rob Cavallo, listen to a couple tracks and work with us, but we mainly worked with his production team, over at his house, for a couple of weeks. Butch Vig, from Garbage, heard one of the songs, and he was interested in working on it with us. Also, John Fields worked on a new track with us in Blind Melon’s old studio. So, before you knew it, we had a brand new version of the record. So, we had our original producer finish it in the exact same room in Buffalo – where it all started. Which, I thought was pretty ironic, because this record really took a trip through many producers, a lot of recording studios, a lot of states, a lot of hard drives. But. when we turned the record back in again, it was pretty amazing- the reaction we got from people, who had heard the first version vs. the second version. But, I think that there was some kind of faith involved, with the stalling, the moves, the inconvenient situations, because when all is said and done, we came up with a pretty good record.
RMS: During this process, did the songs evolve, as well?
RT: Not so much the songs, but our ability to capture them in their most appropriate manner is what changed. We really think that with our last recording, ‘Let Love In,’ a lot of life got stripped out of that record by spending way too much time worrying about how things were lined up, and that things were perfect. With this record, we were going to make sure that every sound on the record was well looked after and necessary, and that we weren’t just piling stuff up so we were making a wall of sound, so we didn’t have to pay attention to what we were actually doing.
I think the other thing that is very unique about this record, is that, unlike most of our records since we started making records with real producers back in the 90s, is that we would bring in a team of people who would sometimes play a difficult part that maybe we couldn’t play, or sing a high note that we couldn’t sing or whatever. We would bring in people to help make the record sound better. This record is 98% our guys. When you see us play live, it’s the same band that recorded the songs. That makes it a lot less than a project, and more of the sound of the band playing. When we go out and deliver it, it really comes across that way. I think that it’s also the reason that the shows have been going so good. We can work out with confidence, and play six brand new songs to groups of people that haven’t heard them before.
RMS: It seems like it was a rather long process, to finally get the CD completed. Was there any point that you become frustrated that it was taking so long, or did you just roll with it and know that eventually it was going to get finished?
RT: There was not a moment in which we were comfortable. I sort of feel that there is a certain amount of tension needed in order to make this thing operate. I hate to say it, because my life would be much simpler if I didn’t have to operate that way. But yeah, there were times when our producer left for a month during the middle of it so he could go on vacation. We were recording between two coasts, so that was going on, and there were gigs throughout the recording of the record, so we were starting and stopping. Warner Brothers couldn’t get their shit together. We would turn in mixes, and we were getting different opinions. We had no idea when the record was coming out. There did not seem to be any definitive plan for anything. It was chaos, man. But, I think that is just the nature of the business right now. I don’t mean to be bad mouthing Warner Brothers; nobody knows what to do anymore. For 18 years of being in this band, we were used to having things operate in a certain manner. You do things this way, and it works right. But, over the past seven years, it has disassembled itself, and it’s been proven. Anyone that still tries to do it that way has gone broke. So, you really have to keep your eyes open and use the things that don’t cost an arm and a leg. Dude, I can reach 500,000 people right now. I can tell them anything I want, and these are all people who are interested in what we have to say, because they signed up to our Facebook page, or they follow us on Twitter. I tried to come up with a dollar amount on how much it would have cost me to reach all those people 10 years ago. I can’t even come up with that number, because I can’t even think of how It could have been done. So, this is a pretty amazing time, I think. As scary as it is, I think that if you look at the power of what’s out there, it’s pretty unbelievable.
For more on the Goo Goo Dolls go to www.googoodolls.com
To checkout Robby’s record label go to www.goodcharamel.com
For Robby’s art festival go to www.musicisart.org