By Jill Diver
Best known for the hit song “Iris,” the Goo Goo Dolls fittingly moved from a garage cover band to superstardom in the blink of an eye.
Guitarist and vocalist Johnny Rzeznik, along with bassit Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin, started the tour for their new album, “Something For The Rest Of Us” on April 2, and will kick off the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom’s season with a show on Thursday, April 15.
“The new album took a left turn,” Rzeznik said. “There’s a bit more focusing on the topical and trying to write songs about other people and my own perceptions and interpret dealing with angst and the uncertainty of living in an unstable world right now.”
While the new album still has no official release date, Rzeznik said he believes there is a “certain level of maturing you have to follow with each album.”
“I don’t want to write songs like I did before,” he said. “I write what I write and lead with my gut and hope it appeals to the masses. If it doesn’t, you gave it your best shot.”
For Rzeznik, it has been a long time since the days of recording at local studios to hone his musical craft and since the bands first record deal in 1987. These days, he writes about what is important to him.
“Right now I’m trying to speak for people who may not feel like they have a voice,” he said. “We’re not the newest, latest, great young band anymore, and that is how the album got the title. We’re not uber indie rock hipsters, we’re like regular people. I’m addressing more of an emotional angle.”
According to Rzeznik, while the band is on tour, the fans will hear some of the old songs, as well as songs from the new album.
“I wanted to start out in smaller places that a lot of bands don’t get to go,” he said. “This tour is about reconnecting with the hard core fans.”
For the band’s lead singer and songwriter, the writing process comes with a side of stress.
“Song writing starts with me sitting down and having an enormous anxiety attack, ” Rzeznik said. “Then you just sit and wait for it to go away, and then you get to work with guitar, a piece of paper and the piano,” not to mention, he added with chuckle, “nine packs of cigarettes and coffee.”
Despite the stress and the nerves, Rzeznik believes in his ability to create.
“I think if I stay true to my gut and dig as deep as I can into my own head and space, people will relate to it,” he said. “I’m trying to be as honest as possible about where I’m at.”
But Rzeznik said he also reached beyond himself and used other people’s emotions to write songs for his new record.
“One song (on the new album) is about a letter from a woman whose husband is in Iraq and he doesn’t want to come home because he’s paralyzed,” he said. “I kinda wanted to write a love letter from her to him saying everything was OK, because that is what she expressed to me in the letter, and she wanted him back whether he had his legs or not.”
While they’re out on the road, the band members extend their kindness to local shelters in every city the visit. The band asks that anyone attending one of their shows bring nonperishable foods so they volunteers of U.S.A. Harvest can collect the items and distribute them to area women’s and homeless shelters that night.
“This is neighbor helping neighbor, and it’s really important — a little help goes a long way,” Rzeznik said. “We have a contest at every show, and for the person who brings the most, we will do a meet and greet and take them backstage. You have my personal guarantee that they more you bring, the more we’ll work for you and the more you’ll enjoy the show.”
About Johnny Rzeznik
Reading: “Pygmy,” by Chuck Palahniuk
Music: Tegan and Sara, The National, Silversun Pickups
Musical Influences: Paul Westerberg, The Clash, Cheap Trick, Def Leppard
Quote: “Just because you’re sober doesn’t mean you’re not (messed) up.”