For the first time in the Goo Goo Dolls’ nearly 40-year career, co-founder, songwriter and guitarist John Rzeznik has taken the helm as producer on their new studio album Chaos In Bloom. Headliner caught up with him for a chat about the band’s ability to endure four decades in the business and how they continue to find ways of breaking new ground…
We find John Rzeznik in what looks like a hotel room somewhere in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Goo Goo Dolls co-founder, singer, songwriter, guitarist, and now producer, is back on the touring circuit with his cohorts, and Headliner has managed to pin him down for a Zoom chat between shows to talk about the band’s latest record Chaos In Bloom, which saw him take the producer’s chair for the very first time.
For nearly 40 years, the band has been consistently releasing music and touring the world, delighting fans with their own brand of radio-friendly rock and guitar-driven ballads. While such a lengthy stint in the business could set some bands spiralling and stumbling through the motions, Goo Goo Dolls continue to find new ways of keeping things fresh. Whether it’s finding new collaborators, trying out new methods in the studio or releasing a Christmas record for the first time – “we can do that, we’re not Nine Inch Nails,” he laughs - Rzeznik and fellow co-founder Robby Takac are, it seems, determined not to repeat themselves.
That’s not to say that Chaos In Bloom doesn’t bear all the hallmarks of a Goo Goo Dolls record. The big choruses, the slick production values and the memorable melodies are all there, but what Rzeznik has brought to proceedings is a sonic eclecticism that incorporates new dimensions within a Goo Goo Dolls framework. And despite this being his first time as the band’s producer, he is far from new to the production process.
“Robby and I have always been involved in the production of the albums, but we always hire a producer,” explains Rzeznik with a voice that wears the excesses of almost 40 years in music. He speaks slowly and gently, almost whispering at times, with responses that are thoughtful and considered. “This time we got a really good engineer and I decided I wanted to experiment a lot more sonically; have a lot more control over the content of the songs without a producer saying ‘I think you should change this’.
“There are all different kinds of producers, there are ones who are like songwriters, musician-type producers, and I like working with those because they add to the song. Then you have ones who are sonically interesting and are really good engineers with opinions, but I just felt like I had a clear idea of what I wanted things to sound like on this album. I have a collection of vintage recording equipment and some pretty eclectic stuff, and I just found myself in the studio a lot with other producers who didn’t have the time or inclination to experiment and play with things because they need to get onto their next project as quickly as possible.”