Magnetic : Chatting with Goo Goo Dolls' John Rzeznik, Plus Daft Punk Meets Loverboy, and Exclusives from The Rides and The Slants

photo credit: Eleanor Stills


On the trio's attack of "Search And Destroy," Kenny Wayne Shepherd says, "When Jerry brought it in as a possibility I thought it would end up being cool and basically sold Stephen and Barry on it based on the energy level and intensity. It sounds young and fresh and we put our own stamp on it. The original by the Stooges is more primal."

"This was a great accident waiting to happen, a great choice that I resisted at first," adds Stephen Stills of the cover. "I wasn't familiar with it, then once I played it, it was the coolest thing I ever did. I put a Keith Richards spin on it and it sounds like a really good punk band is playing it."


A Conversation with John Rzeznik

Mike Ragogna: John, is this your tenth album?

John Rzeznik: This is our tenth album.

MR: And the name of it is Magnetic. Is it because all of the band members can't help but make music together?

JR: You know what, actually, that's a better story than I have.

MR: What's your version?

JR: My manager called me on the phone and said, "Think of a title for the record. Try to use one word," and that was the first word that came up in my mouth. It's that simple.

MR: Oh. Perhaps it's an unconscious expression of the fraternity of the band?

JR: I'd like to think that, yeah. We are all still on speaking terms.

MR: [laughs] What motivated you guys getting together this time out? What was the creative process like?

JR: I was really interested in working with a lot of different people. I'd been doing little one-off sessions with other writers and other artists, and I really loved all the guys that I was working with, so I thought it might be a good idea to experiment with using different producers and co-writers with me for different songs. We would just do the album a little piece at a time, instead of locking ourselves in a recording studio for six months or whatever with one guy. What I wanted to do was keep rotating guys and have this fresh energy come into the room every few days. I also noticed when we were working on one-offs, the band got much better. You knew he'd be in the studio a couple of days and then he'd be gone. I think that added to the ease of it.

MR: Look at the talent you brought into the mix--William Hughes, Gregg Wattenberg, Rob Cavallo, John Shanks and Greg Wells. Did you go to these guys because you respected them as producers in general or...?

JR: With Greg Wells, it was like that. I've always wanted to work with him and he and I had always made plans to do something together but we never got around to it. But this time, everything lined up and that's how I went with him. He's the guy that we worked with that I would even get close to saying, "Wow, this guy is a genius." He brought in this nice little piano ballad that a friend of mine had written, and he turned it into this really sweeping, epic ballad. It was just really, really amazing to see it take shape.

MR: Beyond adding their special trademark to productions, do you think the producers also added a new, fresh energy into this new batch of Goo Goo Dolls material?

JR: Oh, absolutely. Our previous album, Something For The Rest Of Us, was really somber. It wasn't a very upbeat record. It was very reflective of a time that wasn't very good. So I was like, "Okay, I want to write an upbeat, uptempo album with a more positive feel." I wanted to get up and go to work every day. That was part of the thing of working with Gregg Wattenberg, who wound up producing about half of the record. I got up there and went to work and I laughed every day. We had a good time. Also, I wanted to get their perspective on what I do. I was like, "Wow, it's my tenth record, I don't want to make the same record again." I thought the power of collaboration could make the thing sort of grow geometrically.

MR: Can you go into the latest single, "Rebel Beat?"

JR: Well, I was downtown in New York, taking a little walk and there was a block party with a bunch of people and music was blasting and people were cooking and stuff. I walked by and I was like, "Wow, that's really, really cool," and then I went to the studio and started playing guitars. It wasn't like it had a direct influence on the lyrics of the song, but just seeing a group of people that close and having such a good time was really, really inspiring to me. It was like, "Wow, this is a family." That doesn't really happen a lot in LA--at least not in my neighborhood. I don't even know my neighbors. It just made me so happy that I wanted to sort of capture the feeling of it.

MR: Speaking of happy, there's the song "Happiest Of Days." It's got a spirit of renewal, as does the whole album. As you were bouncing back from the challenging period during which the last album was made, you were determined to have a great album, weren't you.

JR: Well, I was determined that I was going to have fun making an album, because the process on the previous one was really difficult it wasn't a lot of fun. We did a really long tour for that album. All I can say is that I think we all wanted to have a good time again. We made a lot of mistakes on the previous album, so I said, "Let's learn from them and not repeat them."

MR: Magnetic also features the anthem "Keep The Car Running."

JR: I wrote that with John Shanks. He and I were discussing it and we sort of lyrically had this Springsteen-ish kind of thing about escaping. This song is more about growing up and suddenly becoming disillusioned with the American dream or whatever you want to call it. It's wanting to get out and find your own way of life.

MR: Yeah. If somebody were to look at one of the tracks on the album, maybe because of the lyrics or how special it is to you, which would you choose?

JR: Yeah, this song, "Come To Me." I love it. I went deep on that one.

MR: It's a nice ballad.

JR: Thank you very much. I just like that song a lot because the sentiment of it is very simple. It could be construed as somewhat sappy, but I just love it. To me, it's a very basic concept that I think anyone can relate to.

MR: When Billboard unveiled their top one-hundred songs of the last twenty years, you had a few songs on the list including "Iris."

JR: We had two in the top ten, which was really surprising, and then we had a third on that list. That was really an amazing thing. I wanted to tear the little page out and put it on my refrigerator with a little magnet just to remind myself when I'm being down about money and everything, "We did this."

MR: What do you think as far as your contribution to music? How would you like people to think of Goo Goo Dolls?

JR: You know what's really amazing? When I'm out on the road, I get letters from people every day. They'll hand me a letter or somebody will give it to me or they'll talk to me, and whenever I read their letters, people always share their hardships with me. Sometimes, it's really, really heartbreaking, the things that I read in these letters. I think that at least in the people who like our band, we're being remembered as a band that was there for them when they needed us.

MR: In "Keep The Car Running," there's the theme of disillusionment of youth, and you're getting married this summer, right?

JR: Yeah.

MR: So it seems like this project is and has been a maturing process for the band in a lot of ways.

JR: Definitely, definitely. It was a maturing process for this band. Robby has a daughter, Mike's been married for a few years. I've been with the same girl for almost ten years, so it's kind of like, "Oh, let's get married." It's time to have kids and grow up and have a life.

MR: Nicely said. Hey, what advice do you have for new artists?

JR: Wow. You know what? Don't worry about becoming a rock star. And if you do get to become a rock star, don't act like one.

MR: Is there anything you can add as far as how they approach it creatively?

JR: I think staying really honest in your own process no matter what it is and not worrying about the outcome. "Is this going to get me my record deal? Is this going to make me famous?" Asking yourself results questions is just... Nah. You just wind up getting into trouble. You don't really keep the process clean when you start thinking about the end result.

MR: Yeah. What does the future hold for Goo Goo Dolls?

JR: We're just taking it a little bit at a time. Right now, there are a lot of great things going on. We're just about to start a really great tour with Matchbox Twenty. We have a tour of the UK planned for the fall, and then depending on how the album's doing we might go write another one or keep touring.

MR: From a fan's perspective, it would be fun to see both bands collaborate. I wonder what a Goo Goo Dolls/Matchbox Twenty single would sound like.

JR: Wow! That's a really good question. I'd like to find out. Maybe it would wind up sounding like Motörhead.

MR: John, as always, I really appreciate your time. The touring is going to be endless for this one?

JR: We're only booked through the end of the year so far, but I'm sure there are going to be other opportunities and we're going to grab them.

MR: And you have to get married.

JR: I do! Yeah, I think I've got like four days off. She's really amazingly cool. She understands. Then I have to take her on a honeymoon when I'm done this summer.

MR: Cool and all the best, John, and have a great wedding.

JR: Hey, thank you.

MR: Bye, John.

JR: Bye.

1. Rebel Beat
2. When The World Breaks Your Heart
3. Slow It Down
4. Caught In The Storm
5. Come To Me
6. Bringing On The Light
7. More Of You
8. Bullet Proof Angel
9. Last Hot Night
10. Happiest Of Days
11. Keep The Car Running

Transcribed by Galen Hawthorne

photo credit: Mick Rock


In this corner, red leather pants, bandanas, and rock. In that corner, space helmets and electronic music. Yes, Mike Reno's lovechild Loverboy had an album, oh, a year or two ago that shares the same title as the Dafters' current single. Strange coincidence, wouldn't you say?

Well, no, it's just a coincidence. But the Loverboy album is now a "hit" with Spotify searches for "Get Lucky," and quoting one of the pop rock unit's hit single, Mike & Co. are "Lovin' Every Minute of It."

Spotify's Soundrop app acknowledged the new activity online for Loverboy albums. "We've seen Loverboy's hits played more and more in our Love the '80s room, and traffic to the Loverboy room has increased," said Thomas Ford, VP of Marketing for Soundrop. "There's no question the attention from the Daft Punk single has led some fans to the band's album, which just proves the enduring appeal of the record some three decades later."

The confusion is contagious. Anna Hecht, before a show at the Sonoma-Marin Fair, blogged, "Someone asked me, have you heard 'Get Lucky'? And I was all, 'Yeah, it's flippin' awesome! Loverboy rules!' But they said, 'No, I mean the new Daft Punk song.'"

Added Loverboy founder/lead guitarist Paul Dean: "I don't mind how they find out about us. Maybe we 'Got Lucky' back in the day, but it takes more than luck to survive this long. Hey, we're just a bunch of daft punk-rockers ourselves."


photo courtesy of The Slants


"We shot the music video for 'Misery' at an old power plant here in Oregon," explains The Slants' bassist Simon Young. "It was the perfect vibe to go with the footage from the upcoming Tai Chi Hero film. Ironically, we kept blowing the power at the power plant; it was to much rock 'n' roll for its old transformers to handle! We began working with Wellgo USA to help promote the first film in the series, Tai Chi Hero. The steampunk-martial arts adventure was definitely a perfect fit for our band and we had so much fun doing it, that we decided to release a second music video to help promote the home release of the sequel.

"'Misery' was one of the first songs that we wrote for our most recent release, The Yellow Album, Simon continued. "It's about moving on from brokenness, desolation, and loneliness. Filming at a decommissioned power plant was a perfect metaphor. We worked with a local organization who wanted to get more attention on the historical site. The location has hardly been captured on film, it was only recently used for a scene in the TV series, Grimm."