The High Plains Reader had the opportunity to chat with Goo Goo Dolls Bassist Robby Takac about their origins, their ever evolving sound, and the impact of “Iris.”
High Plains Reader: You grew up in Buffalo New York. What was the music scene like when you first started?
Robby Takac: Our first gigs were in the 80s, ‘86 would have been our first album. The world was a much different place then. There was no internet and such, so everything was pretty hands-on and pretty local. So for us, we had to just get out and start playing around in our van and try to make as much progress as we could. I do think the scenes in general were much more locally driven than they are these days. I think people see the world as a much smaller place now.
HPR: I read that Paul Westerberg (best known as the songwriter, vocalist, and guitarist of the Minneapolis band The Replacements) cowrote the song “We Are the Normal” on Superstar Carwash, released in 1993. What was that experience like?
RT: Actually, it was a song we had been working on. We sent a cassette of a couple songs with no lyrics to Paul and he sang over the top of them. One of them--there were two songs, but one of them we used. There was another called “Dancing in Your Blood” that he had written, which actually turned into a different song, which was on the record. We used some parts of that song and combined it with something else, but somewhere there might be a cassette floating around with that song on it too. I don’t have it personally.
HPR: You started as a punk/garage band--what caused your shift from that to the adult alternative genre?
RT: I don’t know if there was ever a shift; we stayed together for a really long time. We grew up. We allowed our band to move forward and progress. A lot of bands, especially when they have a big record, try to hang on to that sound. We just tried to keep moving ourselves forward. It was time to do something just a little bit different. You know, it’s funny because we sold 86,000 copies of our second record and we thought that was super successful for us--for the type of band we were, so the temptation is almost there to stay that band, to do the same thing. John (John Rzeznik guitarist and frontman of the Goo Goo Dolls) has always been pretty focused on moving forward and trying to do something that’s a little bit different than the things we did in the last record. That really helped move things forward and helped to shape the sound which -- from record to record, the records don’t sound that different. If you listen to that record we put out in ‘86 and our last EP, there’s definitely something that happened over the past three decades.
HPR: What do you attribute the band’s longevity to?
RT: I guess it was John and I deciding that we’re going to make it happen, deciding that it’s still worth it and that it’s still important enough to us to see it to the next day. I’ve been asked that many times and the answer is, you just wake up and try to figure out what it is going to take today to make sure that we can move one more day forward, because it’s just what we do, so you figure it out. You talk to your manager, you talk to your booking agent and you say, “What’s the smartest thing for you to do here?” and if that stuff’s all taken care of, it’s just about the relationship that John and I have. We’ve just been lucky enough to have all the stuff in order over the years.
HPR: “Iris.” What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Iris?”
RT: First, the hair on your neck stands up, it’s just this weird thing when you’re own music plays somewhere. We have such a crazy relationship with that song. It made our career and got in our way many times. A song like that is a blessing and a curse too because it’s so big. It’s a shadow you have to back into constantly, but it opened up what was potentially a one-hit thing in the 90s into something that’s a little more respectable, and has allowed us to have the 15 songs that followed it come out on the chart. What do I feel? I guess I feel grateful but you still get that weird feeling when you hear your song on the radio.
IF YOU GO:
The Goo Goo Dolls “Long way home” Summer tour
Thursday, July 20, doors 6pm show starts at 7:30pm
Scheels Arena, 5225 31st Ave S. Fargo, ND 58104
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