Goo Goo Dolls bassist Robby Takac is listening to Gnarls Barkley while on the road touring with the Counting Crows this summer. Thanks in part to the ubiquitous single, “Crazy,” the band’s debut album, “St. Elsewhere,” is on constant rotation. “This will be the summer of Gnarls Barkley for me without a question. That record seems to be stuck in my iPod,” Takac says by phone from Pennsylvania. “I really dig that record, man. It’s so amazingly kitschy.”
And Takac knows a thing or two about earworms—those songs that stick in your head like an itch that can’t be reached—as his band is responsible for putting a few out there over the past ten years. Mega hits like “Slide” and “Iris” transformed the Goo Goo Dolls from a band with an attractive lead singer and an eyebrow-raising moniker to a household name.
Crisscrossing the country promoting their eighth studio album, “Let Love In,” the Goo Goo Dolls—Takac, lead singer John Rzeznik and drummer Mike Malinin—are aware of the double-edged sword that comes with each release. On one hand they are very thankful for their audience and the opportunities each success has brought them, but on the other it is hard to shake the perception that the band pumps out fluffy love songs perfect for romantic film tie-ins.
“A lot of times we get this knee-jerk reaction…that it’s records full of love songs, when it’s actually records full of incredibly cynical, jaded social perspectives,” Takac says. “I think people, because they’re not looking deep enough, don’t necessarily see all the sides of the group because bands tend to be fairly one-dimensional these days. [Bands] find something they do and they do it well. And when that’s not popular anymore, they go away and change their outfit.”
Cynicism may not be the band’s forte, but the single “Better Days” is evidence that their output is able to transcend the limitations of pop music. Originally intended to be a modern Christmas carol, the song’s meaning metamorphosed when television news outlets began pairing it with images of Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
“I always use ‘Better Days’ as a pretty obvious example of probably what happens with every song you put out there,” Takac says. “All of the sudden it took on this other life.” (Janine Schaults)
Goo Goo Dolls play August 18 at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheater, 19100 South Ridgeland, Tinley Park, (312)559-1212, at 7pm.