“The last time I did 10 songs with one guy I thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown..” - Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik talks hmv.com through their new album Miracle Pill
Goo Goo Dolls are a pop-rock institution.
The band, who consist of singer John Rzeznik and bassist Robby Takec, come into the recording of new album Miracle Pill after an extensive world tour celebrating 20 years of their classic LP Dizzy Up The Girl.
Though it was the band’s sixth album, it’s one that sent them into the stratosphere, largely thanks to the success of single ‘Iris’, and wound up selling over four million copies. On the tour, they played the record in its entirety and came home, naturally, hungry to do something brand new.
That’s Miracle Pill, which arrives in stores today, we spoke to Rzeznik about how it all came together...
When did you start putting the songs together? Were these tracks written on the road?
“We did the 20th-anniversary tour for Dizzy Up The Girl, we played that whole record and a few others, and, at the end of that tour, I felt like we’d put that album to bed and I was ready for something else. I sat down pretty quickly after that. This record developed really quickly, which was a lot of fun.”
Did you have a goal in mind? Or an idea to do things differently? Or do you just write and see what comes out?
“What comes out, that’s how I work. I don’t think about it too much. Once you have the rough versions of the songs, you begin to think about production. I have a great collection of vintage recording equipment, spring reverbs the size of refrigerators, stompbox pedals that go straight into the console. I really enjoy mangling up my songs once I have them.”
When does Robby come in?
“When the basic idea is done. It’s the same for me with his songs. On this record, I was working in New York and Los Angeles and he was up in Buffalo doing his thing. If either of us needs help we’re only a phone call away. But we were both really on a roll this time. We both just wanted to keep going, it was very fast.”
There are a few collaborators on the record, but no named producer, was that a decision you took? Or did the songs come so fast you didn’t need anyone?
“I don’t like using one producer. I want the band to be the element that ties the song together rather than the producer being the sound. When I start to sing or the way I play guitar is us, I want to retain that. And, to be honest, I burn producers out. I’m a producer myself and I burn these guys out. The last time I did 10 songs with one guy I thought he was going to have a nervous breakdown.”
Not a great idea…
“It’s a lot easier for me if it’s three or four guys and you do a few songs with each. Time is limited. You do two weeks with somebody and then you agree to do it again next year. It keeps fresh energy pumping into the situation.”
Who did you have with you this time?
“A guy named Sam Hollander, incredible guy. Derek Furman, great producer, Drew Pearson, another good one. They’re my friends, and, mostly, we’ve been working together for a long time. The power of collaboration has become so important to me. I used to sit in a room by myself and go insane. A couple of records ago I just decided that I couldn’t do this anymore, I need to be around other people. You learn so much from other people. You always need to be open to discovering something new.”
What kind of album is it lyrically?
“The songs that I write seem to have a theme of dealing with people and trying to make connections. Feeling like you may never make a connection, but there’s always hope. There always has to be hope in my songs, what is there to live for otherwise?”
When did you decide that Miracle Pill was the right title for the record?
“When Sam and I wrote Miracle Pill, I thought instantly that it was a great name for an album. That was it. I wish I had a better story. I immediately started thinking of album covers and photoshoots, a lot of cool imagery, that’s when you know you’ve got a good one.”
You’ve got 12 records now, your live set must be a challenge to put together…
“It’s a fine balance. You don’t want to play a song that nobody knows. That’s just awkward. What I hope is that people really want to hear the new songs and make it even harder. But it’ll be the songs people know and love. People take the time to come and see you and pay their hard-earned money, you need to give them what they want. I get to indulge myself with a few rare tracks.”
Having done Dizzy Up The Girl in full, is that a one-off or can you see yourself doing that again for another record?
“I don’t think I’d do that again. It’s too much of one album. Not again.”
You’re booked pretty solidly in the US for the rest of the year, when is Europe and the UK on the horizon?
“We’re on tour with Train right now and then we’re going to South America to open for Bon Jovi. An intimate show, just a little soccer stadium. Then we’ve got another headline tour in the States in the fall and then we’ll think about it. We’ve really just started to break in Europe and in the UK we generally play the Academies. I love them, they’re so old and dirty and they have such good energy. That’s where you should play rock and roll.”
Goo Goo Dolls’ new album Miracle Pill is out now in hmv stores.