When Goo Goo Dolls singer John Rzeznik hits the concert stage, he’s transported to the past — but also fully present in the current moment.
Even after 30 years in the business, Rzeznik is still eager to sing all the hits fans know by heart, in addition the band’s newest material. Rzeznik says he’s sent straight back to the ’90s when he sings “Name,” for example, and always remembers where he was when he wrote the song.
“I was told to remember where you were and what you were doing and who you were and who you were with at those times,” Rzeznik said about channeling the same energy of the ’90s, in a Build Series interview. “And it brings you back to that moment. It’s interesting because you’re reliving things.”
Bassist Robby Takac also loves hearing the crowd singing Goo Goo Dolls songs; he calls it “amazing.”
“I’m sure most bands would love to say 30 years later that their bands are still making music and people are still interested and still coming to see them and real life didn’t march in front of them and make them take responsibility and do what normally people do,” Takac said.
But today, Rzeznik also has other things on his mind while playing live, including the idea of connecting and the political divide in the United States.
“I’m standing in a room full of people. And I’m playing a song and all off a sudden pops into my head — half of this room voted for [Donald] Trump and half of this room voted for Hillary Clinton. But a hundred percent of these people are singing this song,” he said.
Rzeznik hopes that in some small way, he and the band are helping bring people together through music.
“I truly believe that all the similarities between all of us are greater than the differences,” he said. “And I believe the differences are being exploited and magnified to keep us off-balance. So music can be one tiny little venial component to the solution.”
He added, “For the last 20 years we’ve been traumatized, starting with 9/11, then two wars that we’re still fighting and the financial collapse, which was just pure wholesale thievery by the oligarchs of this country. I think people are getting really sick of it. And I think we’re on the cusp of a change.”
Rzeznik speaks to that connection on the band’s new album. He sings about people’s obsession with fame and social media on songs like “Money, Fame and Fortune” and the title track, “Miracle Pill,” but didn’t have an agenda going in to writing the first Goo Goo Dolls album since “Boxes,” which came out in 2016.
“It wasn’t like I was intentionally trying to make these statements. It just sort of came out this way. But we’re living in this world where we’re more and more isolated,” he said. “I think we’re getting more and more emotionally separate from each other and more and more emotionally sick because of it. And I think a lot of that has to do with social media and the way people are isolated by themselves in front of computers. It’s like, I have 10,000 friends. But yes. You’ve never been in a room with them. I think people are really lacking for real human connection.”
Rzeznik says instead of relying on social media for communication, he calls people on the phone and spends time with family and friends ― in person. In his own way, Rzeznik is trying to build connections while staying focused on making a living and writing music for those longtime fans.
“I’m a guy that has to go home and pay the bills and answer to my wife and my 2-year-old. And just, real life is so awesome,” he said. ”I’m a songwriter and that’s more important than being a rock star.”
Check out the full Goo Goo Dolls interview below.