With 30 years of experience under their belt, there’s no stopping Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac of the Goo Goo Dolls, from rocking our world live for the first time on February 11, 2017 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In an exclusive phone interview with InqPOP!, I had a chat with co-founding member and bassist Robby Takac about growing up, the music industry, and their upcoming Manila show.
InqPOP!: You have recently celebrated your 30th anniversary as a band. How has your perspective on music changed through the years?
Robby Takac: Well, I think when we were starting out we were kids – this giant punk rock music– to have fun, drink beers, laugh and have a blast. We made some records and sort of learned how to play the guitars a little better and become a little better as a band. [We also] tried to do something new and exciting every record. And now it’s been 11 records in 30 years. So we’ve grown into something much different than we began. And, you know, when we began, I was twenty years old and you know, I’m not twenty years old anymore. You know, we tried to grow up.
InqPOP!: You’ve achieved a lot in your career in music; what are you most proud of? Or which achievement stands out the most in your mind?
Robby Takac: Ah, I think at this point in our career, I’m most proud that we managed to keep doing this for so long. We still put out songs and they still play our songs on the radio and they might not be the number one hit song all the time, but we still get played on the radio. And we go out, we do tours, and people still come to see us play. And we never broke up, never went away and we just kind of keep going. We didn’t have to re-form or do a reunion tour or anything like that because we never went away. So I think this is what I am most proud of.
Aside from that, I guess, your last album would always be a great achievement since you managed to do it again. Obviously Iris was a huge song for us on so many levels. And until this day, people talk about it. So that was big. In different terms, John is going to be a father soon and I had a baby to four years back. So I guess those are big moments of our lives too.
InqPOP!: Aside from music, what have you been up to lately?
Robby Takac: I spend time with my family. I also have a little record label that I run. I released J-rock music here in North America by some of the bands I’ve worked with. You know, my wife’s from Japan so I often visit the country with her. On February just before our concert in Manila, I’ll go to Japan with my wife. And I take part in some non-profit organizations here in Buffalo called the Music is Art Festival. So yeah, I stay busy.
InqPOP!: It’s a well-known fact among your fans that Johnny doesn’t like hearing the sound of his voice. Do you share the same sentiment he does?
Robby Takac: Nah, (laughs) I get that it is always tough to listen to your own voice. It’s like looking at yourself on the mirror, I guess. But you know, he’s a great singer, man. But nah, I think I’m a little less emotional as John about that (laughs).
InqPOP!: Earlier this year you released your latest album, Boxes. Can you tell us how your music and songwriting has matured from when you were starting out to where you are right now?
Robby Takac: I think we were just having fun then and all about having a blast. We didn’t really think too much about it. It’s just loud, obnoxious and I guess, little by little, as I’ve said, we tried to grow up a little bit toward each record. Given the time we’ve spent doing each record, I guess, we are much different when we started. But I think, the underlying spirit is kind of the same. And I guess that makes us unique in this arena of music that we are in.
InqPOP!: How different is Boxes from your other albums?
Robby Takac: Ah, I think it’s super different from most of our records but not so different from our last. And I think that’s always the case with other bands. If you go back on record, it’s not so different, if you go back two records, it’s different. And I think most of our records are that way. But like what I said we tried to learn something each time and grow a little bit different each time.
InqPOP!: You’ve mentioned you did a lot of collaborating on this particular record. What brought that decision about?
Robby Takac: Well, you know in the past we would write 14 and 15 songs then go to the studio with a producer. But these are half-finished songs. So we go in and try to finish these songs. And it really felt like you are crawling out from a pile of dung (laughs). So it started to feel like it’s very difficult to make decent decisions about the song because there’s so much stuff to get done. So we tried in Magnetic to kind of record one song at a time. Then we go in and work with a producer from just a nugget of idea and help with the writing of a song and get it all together. When we finished it, we move on to the next thing. And before we knew it, the record was done.
But that was our first time of ever doing a record like that. So I think that Boxes gave us the opportunity to use that same process and to know a little bit more on how that process works. And I think that allowed us to probably get a little bit closer to what we are hearing in our heads. Doing this process gained the benefit of having another writer, another producer and idea person in the room with us that eventually made things happen in an interesting way for us.
InqPOP!: How come it took you and Johnny 15 years to write a song together again (which is, Over and Over, the first track from your latest album, Boxes)?
Robby Takac: (laughs) I don’t know, it’s just kind of how we do it. We tend to sit on our respective places and welcome some ideas and then bring it in and we all work on them. But that song (Over and Over) started with John and I having a nugget of idea, and we have our new drummer, Craig, with us and our producer. So we did a bunch of demos and brought it in to our producer. He loved it and even added a twist of his own. Yeah, it’s probably my most favorite song in the record.
InqPOP!: How did collaborating with other musicians affect the feel of your latest record?
Robby Takac: Yeah, I think it’s just allowing yourself to move in some direction you probably wouldn’t move yourself in. You know, I think for a band that’s been together for so long as we have we discovered a way to have that excitement of a new perspective. I think it is really good for us after all these years of making the music the same way. Then, all of a sudden we were smacked at the middle of a brand new process and I guess it turned out to be a totally great experience for us.
InqPOP!: What’s your take on the current set-up of the music industry?
Robby Takac: Well, it’s all brand new. It’s a bunch of untried and untested ways of getting people to know and hopefully support you in your music because everybody’s got to eat, people have families. You know, it’s a new world, a totally a new world. But I do think that there are a lot of people right now who are excited about music still to where it’s going. I don’t think it’s that crazy to think that people will pay a little bit of money and experience what you do. But it means that we are away from home a lot more than we used to be. It’s because we can’t sell records the way we used to. Now it’s more about being out there and bringing your music to people.
InqPOP!: Speaking of the music scene these days, what would you like to see or hear more of?
Robby Takac: Ah, guitars. It’s because I think people are using less and less guitars these days that I’d like to hear more guitars [played].
InqPOP!: It’s your first time to have a concert in the Philippines on February, is there anything you are looking forward about it?
Robby Takac: Somebody told me to try something (I can’t remember its actual name though), but it has something to do with an egg that tastes good…(laughs).
InqPOP!: Ah, that would be balut!
Robby Takac: Yes, I heard it tastes really good and that I should get over what it is and just try it. (laughs).
InqPOP!: What can your fans expect from your upcoming Manila concert?
Robby Takac: Well, we hope to play all the songs that people hope to hear. All these songs we think that the average listener would know. And we got a handful from our new record that we will play. We also got some songs that are our favorites. So yeah, just a great rock show, man.
People have been supporting us there for a long time by listening and buying our music. And this is going to be the first time after twenty-five years that we are going to come and play there. So it’s going to be an exciting time for us.
InqPOP!: What message can you give to all the Filipino musicians out there?
Robby Takac: Do it because you love it, man. And that way you’re successful because you are doing what you love.