Last month, OurStage teamed up with the Goo Goo Dolls and Clear Channel to offer upcoming artists a chance to open for the band on a future tour date. Artists across the US entered their music into 10 regional “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” Competition Channels for their chance at making it into the Finals. The Top 50 artists from each of the regional channels are now competing in the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition Channel.
The 1990s saw many bands come and go, but the Goo Goo Dolls have proven that they are here to stay. With their new record, Something For the Rest of Us, the Dolls are back on tour and ready to take the world by storm—again. We got a chance to chat with bassist Robby Takac about the new album, the tour and what it’s like to spend 25 years in one of the most recognized bands in the world.
OS: The new album, Something For The Rest of Us, was written to be a voice for the average person dealing with difficult times. What inspired that concept?
RT: Difficult times, I think! I think when you try to put a record together that talks about what happened for the last few years since you’ve done that last, you take a look at the stuff around you and if you’re doing something that’s relatively honest to what’s going on at the moment…I think you can’t help but to feel what some other folks are feeling right now. I think if you look at the news, or if you read the newspaper at all, and you see the things that are going on out there…obviously the general sentiment within the country right now is that things are a bit tougher than they have been in years prior. I think that concept itself is something that is pretty universal at the moment, aside from that top 1% that keeps making more and more money. And I think if you take a look at that entire scenario that I just mentioned, there’s a huge problem there. I’ve been asked, “What does ‘the rest of us’ mean?” and I think it’s pretty much everybody at this point. I think all the major decisions that are being made at this point are made to benefit that top 1% and that’s a very scary thing, because there’s not a huge remedy or any outcome other than this getting worse if we don’t change that idea. So, I think we really just took a look at what was going on around us and did our best to represent that.
OS: Instead of working with one engineer and one producer for the whole album, the band opted to work with numerous people. Why was that decision made?
RT: That wasn’t really a conscious choice. We made the record with Tim Palmer…we went and started it on our own and then we brought Tim on after a few months of work. We worked with Tim at our studio in Buffalo and then we went back out to L.A. and finished the record with him there. He moved to Austin and we had some time between when we finished the record and when we were going to put it out, so that gave us some time to listen to it and start to think to ourselves, there’s some things that we would probably would have done differently. So we ended up spending some time working on some stuff on our own with some of the guys in our touring band and a couple of opportunities opened up…we always wanted to work with Butch Vig, he’s been a friend of ours for a long time and we never really had the opportunity. He’s a staff guy over at Warner Brothers now, so we were able to work with him and do a song with him…and a friend of ours, John Fields, who we were always interested in working with…we were able to go in and record a song with him. That’s really the only song that we recorded from scratch; “Home” is that song. We went in and actually recorded that song when the record was done, we recorded one extra and it turned out to be that one. I think it ended up being the single because it was just the freshest in our mind, the most current-sounding. So that’s what we ended up leading with.
OS: What were some of the second-round changes made before the release?
RT: Korel Tunador, our touring singer and keyboard player, came in and played an awful lot of stuff. We went back in and re-sang some background vocals and just kind of tightened stuff up a little bit more. I think we just felt like the record could have been a little bit more focused than it was, and so we spent the time going through all the tracks and finding the things that worked and fixing the things that didn’t….we put real strings on stuff, too. Originally, we had sampled strings on some of the songs, so we went in and recorded some real strings, as well. Most of the changes were fairly minor, but I think when you put them all together, it was a pretty large amount of changes, although they’re barely discernible, probably, to most people.
OS: The Goo Goo Dolls have been a touring band for 24 years. When going out in support of a new project, how does the band balance out promoting the release while also honoring the older material?
RT: I think we know the songs that have made their way into normal life for folks through the radio, or walking through the supermarket, or whatever it might be. I think we’ve got a pretty good handle on what those songs are, so we try our best to get those thirteen, fourteen songs in that we’re pretty sure that someone has come there to hear and might be disappointed if they don’t. We do our best to work in about half of the new record, about six songs, and then throw in a couple that we think are gonna be big numbers in the show that aren’t necessarily the most popular on a mainstream level. Those moments that we think are representative of what we can do that are a little bit outside of what people know of us.
OS: How have Goo Goo Dolls fans changed over the years?
RT: Some of them got older, many of them have had children and they’ve been bringing them to the shows, which is one of the more interesting things that we’ve seen over the years. There are some kids that come to see us play, they’re fifteen, sixteen-years-old and they don’t know the world without this band. I mean, not that they focus on it all day and night, but we just always have been. If their parents were fans, our records have been around their house. If their parents were fans in college, then they’re maybe a little bit more knowledgable about what we did…but at the least, they’ve heard “Iris” somewhere, so they have some sort of connection to what we do, be it good or bad. I think having those concepts gone on within what we do, the crowds have gotten pretty varied. There are kids, there are older people there…we don’t draw 4,000 goth kids, we don’t draw 4,000 housewives, we don’t draw 4,000 accountants or 4,000 hipster kids…it’s like we draw 1,000 of each of those to the show. And I think that’s what makes our crowd pretty interesting.
OS: Many OurStage artists have named Goo Goo Dolls as a big influence in their careers. What advice would you offer to them?
RT: Make sure you like what you’re doing, because you might be doing it 25 years later. Be as honest as you can…at some point, you might get called on it. And aside from that, remember that success—monetary success or commercial success—is a by-product of doing something well. The success is not the product, and I think that’s what you need to keep in your mind. Just because you’re doing something and you are not making great financial strides, doesn’t mean it’s not worth doing. And I think that that, to me, is the most important thing you can keep in your mind. It’s your craft, it’s your art, it’s your ideas and if those are good ideas, not whether anyone else likes them—that’s a whole ‘nother issue. But I think you’ve got to hold that stuff close to your heart and know for yourself that you’re doing the right thing.
Continue to judge in the “SUBWAY FRESH ARTISTS™” National Finals Competition and you could win big, too. The fan who earns the best predictor score in the channel will win two tickets to see the Goo Goo Dolls perform live along with a meet and greet with the band!
Check out this video of “Broadway” from the Clear Channel Radio performance we attended in NYC! Also, make sure you check the tour dates below the video to see the Goo Goo Dolls on tour this fall.
10/6 Stranahan Theater -Toledo, OH
10/7 Indianapolis, IN - Murat Theatre
10/10 Green Bay, WI - Weidner Center
10/ 11 Sioux Falls, SD - Augustana College
10/ 15 Myrtle Beach, SC - House of Blues
10/ 16 Chattanooga, TN - Tivoli Theatre
10/ 18 Montclair, NJ - The Wellmont Theatre
10/ 19 University Park, PA - Eisenhower Hall
10/ 20 Kingston, NY - Ulster PAC
10/ 23 Latrobe, PA - St Vincent College
10/ 24 Mansfield, PA - Decker Gymnasium
10/ 26 Portland, ME - State Theatre
10/ 28 Fairfield, CT - Pitt Center
10/ 30 Salamanca, NY - Seneca Allegany Casino and Hotel
11/ 07 Glasgow, UK - Academy Glasgow
11/ 08 Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK – Academy Newcastle
11/ 09 Leeds, UK – Academy Leeds
11/ 11 Birmingham, UK – Academy Birmingham
11/ 12 Manchester, UK – Manchester Academy
11/ 13 London, UK – Academy Brixton
11/ 15 Norwich, UK – Norwich UEA
11/ 16 Bristol, UK – Academy Bristol
11/ 17 Leicester, UK – Academy Leicester
11/ 20 Liverpool, UK – Academy Liverpool
11/ 21 London, UK - HMV Forum
12/30 Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino
12/31 Thackerville, OK – WinStar World Casino