Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Goo Goo Dolls enjoying new lineup, new energy

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The Goo Goo Dolls threw their fans a bit of a curveball in 2010 with Something For The Rest of Us -- an introspective collection that skewed decidedly darker than the kind of shimmering, Dizzy Up The Girl-era rock-radio staples the band built a career on after forming in 1985 in Buffalo, N.Y.

Primary songwriter/frontman John Rzeznik is subscriber to the notion that albums should serve as a snapshot of a time and a place, and Something For The Rest of Us reflected a period of personal turbulence. By contrast, the Goo Goo Dolls' 10th studio album, 2013's Magnetic, finds Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and former drummer Mike Malinin, who parted ways months after the album's June release, navigating sunnier skies.

"I just had so much fun recording it that I could sell 10 copies of it and I'd still feel like it was a success," says Rzeznik, 48, over the phone from New York City. "It was really a lot of fun. We had a great time doing it.

"(Something For The Rest of Us) was very, very different. I didn't want to make a down album. You have to keep it real. And this album is a an honest representation of where I was at, at the time."

Perhaps most notably, Rzeznik and Takac are settling down and finding happiness in their personal lives (Rzeznik just got married, Takac and his wife welcomed his first child) -- but that doesn't mean they've eased into dad-rock territory just yet. Recorded in New York, London and Los Angeles with four producers, Gregg Wattenberg (Train), Rob Cavallo (Green Day), John Shanks (Bon Jovi) and Greg Wells (Katy Perry), Magnetic is the product of a band recharged.

That jolt of electricity can partially be owed to the fact the album was recorded in frenetic, sleepless cities.

"We did a lot of work in this studio that's 12 floors above Times Square," Rzeznik says. "You're going day and night and there's all this insanity. I found it really energizing and inspiring."

While Magnetic can be considered an upbeat return to form for Goo Goo Dolls, it's also something of a last hurrah for a lineup that's been solid since 1995.

In late December, Goo Goo Dolls released a respectful if vague statement on their website confirming that Malinin was no longer with the band, after rumours circulated online that the drummer had been fired.

"It is true Mike is no longer with the band, but we wish him the best in his new journey, and hope that fans and friends will take a minute to consider this decision was not taken lightly by anyone involved," the statement read, in part.

Rzeznik doesn't get into details beyond the statement, but says that things have been going well with Malinin's replacement, Lifehouse drummer Rick Woolstenhulme Jr. "It's a whole different energy," he says.

In fact, there's not a lot that gets Rzeznik down these days. More than two decades into his career, he's got nothing left to prove.

"I don't bother listening to critics anymore," he says by way of example. "That's a privilege I think I've earned. I don't care anymore. I just don't care. Do I like these songs? Yeah, I do. Do I think I did the best I could? Yeah, I do."

He does care, however, about what his fans think -- and so far, he says Magnetic has been met with positive feedback. "It's nice to hear that people are enjoying the music," he says. "They haven't told me to go home yet."

And Goo Goo Dolls continue to recruit a new generation of fans via the juggernaut that is Iris. Written for the 1998 film City of Angels, the iconic hit recently placed No. 1 on Billboard's Top 100 of 1992-2012. Taylor Swift has also been known to cover it at shows.

"I didn't expect it to have the legs it's had," he admits with a laugh. "I wrote it specifically for that film, and it's had so much staying power. I was really surprised."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 25, 2014 C3

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