Dizzying Success

What is a Goo Goo Doll? Well, it was a kids’ toy, but it leant its name to a rock band in the ‘80s and nowadays, that’s the connotation of Goo Goo Doll.

John Rzeznik, Robby Takac and then drummer George Tutuska, quickly picked the name before a gig one night, and the rest is history.

“We were kids playing guitars and having fun and writing songs before we actually had a name,” Takac recounted. “We had to figure out a name, and this was back 30 some years ago, and we saw it (a Goo Goo Doll) in a magazine and we thought it looked funny and never thought we’d be talking about it 30 some years later. It was just a spur of the moment thing.”

“Funny” as it may sound, the band name Goo Goo Dolls certainly is memorable and has lead the group through more than three decades. It was also the name of their first album, released in 1986.

For the next seven years Goo Goo Dolls kept at it, playing the underground punk scene and garnering airtime on college radio stations. They released their second album “Jed” in 1989 and their third, “Hold Me Up,” in 1990. The latter featured Rzeznik at lead vocalist, as Takac had sang lead on the first two albums.

The 1993 release of their fourth album, “Superstar Car Wash,” finally caught media attention. But it was “A Boy Named Goo,” the fifth album, which really kicked their career off.

“I don’t think fame was something that we considered was really in our future back then,” Takac said. “We were playing punk rock music for 150 people and that was pretty awesome to us. But with every record we learned how to make records a little more confidently, learned how to write songs a little more confidently, learned how to do shows and get the word out there and it grew little by little. I think John especially was brave enough to let it grow and not worry too much about the after effects of it and I think that has allowed us to feel creative this whole time. We’ve been on a little bit of a journey these past few decades.”

Once the single “Name” was released off of “A Boy Named Goo,” the coming fame was evident.

“I don’t know if we knew it was going to blow up. We had written songs that had leaned that way but were always a bit of an afterthought really,” Takac said. “Once ‘Name’ hit, we were so busy that I don’t think we could even think about it. At that point we were just busy and doing our best to do what we had always done and take advantage of the opportunities that we were lucky enough to have.”

Tutuska was replaced by Mike Malinin on drums after recording “A Boy Named Goo.”

The band continued driving their success higher with the release of their sixth album, “Dizzy Up the Girl,” in 1998. The album went quadruple platinum and contained their hit songs “Iris,” “Slide,” “Black Balloon,” “Broadway” and “Dizzy.”

“That had a lot of big songs on it — that was like four or five radio songs on that record (‘Dizzy Up the Girl’),” Takac said. “That was a crazy time and once again so busy. People always ask, ‘What did it feel like?’ And I’m like, ‘You know man, it’s hard to remember.’ I know that seems crazy but there was just so much going on and you’re so busy all the time and you’re just trying to get from airports to busses. At the time, we would do five, six radio stations before a show sometimes. We had gotten where we were because we were spending a lot of time going to those radio stations and having relationships with those folks, so we didn’t want to stop that, but it really got to be a crazy time.”

Over the last 20 years, the band released eight more albums, including a Christmas album in 2020 titled “It’s Christmas All Over,” and a compilation album called “Rarities,” released in June, which contains rare recordings of their previous work.

“It was actually a bi-product of the pandemic,” Takac said of “Rarities.” “Our manager was going through his offices and found a huge box of DATs — an old format of tape that was popular about 20 years ago. When digital first came around you had to record to a digital tape. So he had hundreds of these tapes just sent to us from radio stations and television shows and just B sides of stuff we had laying around.

“Basically our manager just put together what he thought would be an amazing collection of songs and it sounded pretty great so we said let’s move on with it,” Takac continued. “It’s a fan piece for sure. I think people get excited to be able to go a little bit deeper. Some of those songs we hadn’t heard since the morning we recorded the tape, so it was exciting for us in a lot of ways too.”

Goo Goo Dolls have been in the studio working on a new album to be released next year.

“John’s producing it with one of our guitar players, Brad Fernquist,” Takac said. “We did a bunch of it in Woodstock, New York, and in East West Studios in LA. It’s brand new songs. We haven’t done a record like this in a long time where we actually just went in and recorded an album. It’s always been, ‘hey let’s go work on a few songs,’ that kind of thing. So I think for us it’s going to be one of the more representative sort of records because there’s not a lot of influence coming from the outside on this one. So that’s pretty exciting I think.”

Back on tour, Goo Goo Dolls will be performing at the Laughlin Event Center Saturday, Sept. 18 (7 p.m.) with Collective Soul.

“They’re awesome. They’re probably my favorite opening band we’ve ever had,” Takac said of Collective Soul. “I think the combination of all the songs they have and all the songs John’s written — it’s just an amazing night for people. I think they’re a lot like us in that people watch them play and every other song they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I forgot about that one! Oh yeah, I love that one too!’ I think it’s like a bunch of Easter eggs of awesome surprises throughout the show.”

 

COLLECTIVE SOUL

It’s rare that a band’s debut project is a huge success, but for Collective Soul, a demo that was passed around through radio stations turned into a breakout smash.

Musician Ed Roland, along with his brother Dean Roland, drummer Shane Evans, bassist Will Turpin and lead guitarist Ross Childress, had created gold with this initial demo, which lead to a contract with Atlantic Records, who re-released “Hints, Allegations and Things Left Unsaid” as the band’s first album in 1993.The album, backed by the hit single “Shine,” went double platinum and peaked at No. 15 on the Billboard charts.

Dean Roland said that he and his brother had always been musical, but did not expect to reach this level of success.

“Music was always a big part of our family. Our father was a voice major in college and he became a minister of music at the Southern Baptist Church and it was always in our circle,” Roland said. “I didn’t know that I’d be a professional musician but I definitely thought that I would have something to do with music. If anything, just to be able to provide for ourselves with music.”

After “Shine” blew up the airwaves, the group’s destiny was beyond just making a living through music.

“I think it set us on a trajectory of trying to understand what we were doing and take it serious, yet make sure we were still having fun doing it,” Roland said.

And they did have plenty of fun, including the opportunity to open for Van Halen on tour in 1995.

“One of the first highlights for us, we got to share the stage with Van Halen in 1995,” Roland said. “Eddie (Van Halen) was such a kind, good gentlemen and Sammy (Hagar) was great, so those moments were really good to us and for us — we learned a lot.”

That tour coincided with the release of Collective Soul’s self-titled, second studio album. The album featured the No. 1 hits “December,” “Where the River Flows” and “The World I Know,” along with the No. 2 hit “Gel” and the No. 8 hit “Smashing Young Man.”

The group produced two more albums to round out the ‘90s, including “Disciplined Breakdown” and “Dosage,” with the hit single “Heavy” remaining at No. 1 on the charts for a record-breaking 15 weeks.

“Dosage” also contains what Roland credited as his favorite song from the band.

“I think my favorite Collective Soul song is ‘Needs.’ I love it because of the lyrics my brother wrote to it. It shows a pretty deep vulnerability that is very hard to find as an artist, to really put yourself out there,” he said.

“Blender,” released in 2000 was their fifth studio album, followed by a greatest hits compilation, “7even Year Itch,” in 2001. The band parted ways with Atlantic Records after that, and formed its own record label, El Music Group, under which they released their sixth album, “Youth,” in 2004.

The band has released four more full-length studio albums, including 2019’s “Blood,” as a celebration of the group’s 25th anniversary. Roland said they are back in the studio working on two more albums to be released “probably the beginning of next year.”

The current lineup includes both Roland brothers and Turpin, along with Jesse Triplett on lead guitar and Johnny Rabb on drums.

Along with recording, they are performing across the country, bringing their beloved music straight to the fans.

“Our passion that we bring to the stage and the fun that we have, hopefully translates to the crowd,” Roland said. “Sometimes it goes to higher levels and you can touch into different spiritual things, but it really is that notion of getting outside of your head for a second and enjoying yourself. That’s what we try to do. We’re just excited to be able to get back out and play again and we’re really enjoying that interaction.”