Stepping Out

Goo Goo Dolls at Jones Beach

Robby Takac reflects on how the band has grown in its 33 years


It wouldn’t officially be summer on Long Island without Goo Goo Dolls visiting the Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater. The popular rock band returns on Saturday, Aug. 3, co-headlining a concert with Train, at which Goo Goo Dolls will showcase their hits and their new single “Miracle Pill.” Bassist/vocalist Robby Takac is looking forward to taking the stage in Wantagh, where he has fond memories of performing for ecstatic crowds (more often than not in the rain).
“Jones Beach has always been a special place for us to go because the crowd there has been with us for a very long time,” he says. Despite the fact that the band originated in Buffalo, Takac says that being at Jones Beach always feels like he is getting closer to home. “The northeastern vibe feels very much like something we understand. It’s always a great show.”
Goo Goo Dolls’ 65-minute set will feature fan favorites such as “Iris,” “Black Balloon” and “Slide,” but with the exception of “Miracle Pill,” fans will have to wait to hear more from their new album, which drops later this year. Takac says that “Miracle Pill” is a reflection of how Goo Goo Dolls interacts with the world.
“People’s attention spans certainly seem to be getting shorter and shorter, and [lead singer] John (Rzeznik) and I laugh and say songs tend to lead with the chorus these days. People don’t have time for an introduction, a first bridge. It’s a different way of consuming music.”
According to Takac, the album also explores people’s need for instant gratification. “With the internet you can always find exactly what you want, so it has become an on demand world,” he explains of the band’s thinking process. “That [hinders] your ability to roll with the punches. You’re used to getting what you want when you want it. Life’s not that way. I think that ends up being really disappointing to people. They’re trying to find their way into avenues that make it feel like they’re getting what they want.”

These themes spoke to the band so strongly that they wrote too many songs for the album, a problem they haven’t had in the past. “It felt like it happened very naturally this time, as opposed to it feeling like you’re trying to do dental surgery on yourself,” he laughs of his tedious writing experience.
“It was the first time we had to go through all of these songs we recorded and pick out just some of them for the record. It was a really interesting process for us. We got to craft what the record sounded like a little bit more than usual.”
Takac considers how Goo Goo Dolls concerts have changed since the band first began performing at Jones Beach. “We’ll be playing ‘Iris’ and that’s generally when all of the phones go up. I think to myself sometimes, ‘Wow. No one is actually watching us. They’re watching us on their screen,’” he marvels. “It’s exciting in a way because when someone is sitting in front of the stage texting someone, you know they’re probably telling them that they’re enjoying the show, spreading the magic around a little bit. At the same time it’s distracting.”
When so many bands tend to split early in their careers, Takac partially credits the Goo Goo Dolls’ longevity to the fact that he and Rzeznik never broke up and then tried to reunite. “That’s not us and would never be us. We have made it because of a general attitude of getting to the next day and getting to the next thing. Keeping that in our heads is what keeps us rolling.”
Takac also challenges himself with side projects, such as a record label (Good Charamel Records), voiceovers and commercials, which he says help “the other part” of his psyche get a workout. “It’s all about staying relevant as a human being, and being able to feel like you’re still moving forward within this unit,” he says. “You have to find other outlets to remain a whole person and then you can do this for 33 years and feel good about it.”
As for Goo Goo Dolls’ current tour, Takac says that it has been one of their best. “Train and [opening act] Allen Stone are amazing, and I think the three bands are different enough from each other where it’s a great vibe.” Goo Goo Dolls had a very difficult task ahead of them when they were narrowing down songs for their set, as they realized they have too many hits for the given timeframe. “We have five top 10 songs that we’re not even playing!” Takac says, still in awe of the bands’ conundrum.
“What a weird juxtaposition of problems. As a musician, you never expect that in your life.” One thing they can expect? “Rain at Jones Beach,” he laughs. “With our history? Most definitely rain.”