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By Andy Argyrakis
Interview with Robby Takac|
Goo Goo Dolls transform with the times
Aug. 22, 2007
Even though the Goo Goo Dolls remain together after two decades, the trio continues to reap relevance on modern rock radio. While most groups these days rarely last half as long, the Buffalo-based band is still riding the longevity wave thanks to its latest CD Let Love In (Warner Brothers), which has thus far spawned four hit singles. In fact, the band holds the world record for the "Most Top 10 Hits at Hot AC Radio in History," landing a dozen consecutive tracks on air in that format without any foreseeable signs of slowing down. Aside from that studio album, the gang is also the center of this summer's blockbuster "Transformers" soundtrack, which features its song "Before It's Too Late (Sam and Mikaela's Theme)" alongside superstar acts like Linkin Park, Smashing Pumpkins and Disturbed. Bassist/vocalist Robby Takac phoned called from home to discuss the film slot, this summer's extensive tour with Lifehouse and thriving in spite of the music industry's changing state. .
Livewire: You guys have really been running a marathon on the road in support of the latest CD. How will this summer's show differ from previous legs of the tour?
Takac: We've been on the road for 15 or 16 months on this record and this marks our fourth tour of the U.S., followed by our fifth trip to Europe. We've covered a lot of ground, but our intent is to bring a show that's a little different this time out than the one we've been traveling with this past year.
Livewire: With so many albums and songs to choose from, how are you able to narrow down the set list?
Takac: We've put a bunch of song titles on our website and got opinions from fans about the set list. We picked out some new tunes, plus some older ones that we haven't touched in a decade, which makes the set more inclusive than last summer's set.
Livewire: Tell me about the decision to bring Lifehouse on board as opening act.
Takac: We played with Lifehouse in Australia and did a tour with them throughout a bunch of places. We've hung out awhile in L.A. and ran into each other in Japan once. With this tour coming around, we saw they had a new record out and figured they'd been a good match, especially since we really like those guys. That's half the battle for these summer tours, mostly because you're around the same people for such a long time. We've been out with some bands with some pretty serious characters in them, which is fun for awhile, but the chemistry really has to go on backstage to a point that everybody's comfortable.
Livewire: What are the ages of fans you're seeing in the audiences this summer?
Takac: There are all sorts of people coming out to the shows, some of whom are kids that think we're brand new, especially because of the "Transformers" song, so God bless em! We're also starting to see mothers who listened to us when they were younger taking their daughters. Sometimes you'll get people who are coming just for a song they heard on the radio, but no matter what category, everyone's invited and we'll knock them around for awhile!
Livewire: How did you get hooked up with that soundtrack slot?
Takac: The producers came to [guitarist/vocalist] Johnny Rzeznik to write a song for the film and he came to us on the road where we began working on demo tracks. We recorded the track in L.A. and it's the first man/woman/robot love song that John's ever written. I haven't seen the movie yet, just the parts from our music video, but it all seems to fit together really well. I missed the first round of "Transformers" fever growing up...I've always been a collector of Pez dispensers and I'm up to about 2,000 and counting.
Livewire: What variables have allowed the Goo Goo Dolls to stay in the game for so long?
Takac: We've just always done that man. If there's one thing we've been able to do all this years, it's been to put on a rock show for people. We've been fairly adaptable over the past ten years and we keep getting records out there, despite the changing technologies. We've networked the whole time, but at the other end, we're sure to keep our heads down and be the best Goo Goo Dolls we can be. There are so many bands we started with- either who we were opening for or those who opened for us- but I don't know what's happened to so many of them. I'm not exactly sure how we keep it rolling, but I try not to question it too much.
Livewire: What are the most significant changes you've noticed within the industry since the band first started?
Takac: We've worked twice as hard at radio to get the same results as we did when we were kids, but that's an example of how the industry's changing. It's hard to sell records right now across the board, but we're out there working all the time seeing that it gets done. You can count on your label as much as you can, but networking and places like MySpace are immeasurable. One really positive thing is getting a post on MySpace out to 250,000 interested Goo Goo Dolls fans in a moment's notice, which is something you couldn't reap with a million dollar media buy ten years ago! Now with one click I can tell people what I had for breakfast!
Livewire: Did you ever expect technology to take over?
Takac: I never saw a lot of these changes coming, but it's so obvious now. I still want to have CDs and buy about 6 or 7 a week, but music takes up a difference space in my life then it does for other people. There are still record stores out there, it's just that nobody uses them anymore. People don't like music any less, they're just not paying for it right now or they're going online rather than buying a physical CD.
Livewire: And before I let you go, what's up with the food drive on this tour?
Takac: We're asking anyone who comes to a show to bring canned goods to benefit USA Harvest- there's no money involved. It's literally a homegrown canned food drive we do at all the shows and it's become quite a network of people over the internet in terms of linking up with local shelters and food pantries. Since we started teaming up with them seven years ago, we've raised about two million meals!