As he cleaned up his office during the pandemic, Goo Goo Dolls manager Pat Magnarella began browsing nearly 30 years of boxes of archived and live recordings of the group. At the time, frontman John Rzeznik was looking for ways to stay connected to fans during the pandemic, posting videos and a PE 21, a self-produced collection of four pieces stripped from the group’s catalog. The sifting of the new pile of unreleased work ended with a 20 track LP of Rarities.
âEveryone was scrambling to try and figure out what to do, I just wanted to keep in touch with our fans as much as possible,â says Rzeznik, who scoured eBay and found a $ 200 DAT player to transfer more archaic audio files to them. . âWe started listening to all these song recordings, alternate versions, demos, and it brought back so many memories. There are circumstances surrounding the writing of any song, and the circumstances in your life set the mood.
A collection of 20 songs and various snapshots from part of the band’s nearly 35-year career, Rarities features radio performances, B-sides, live performances and acoustic renditions of songs like “Slide”, “Iris” and “Black Balloon” – international releases and unreleased tracks, from 1995 to 2007, even a performance by ‘one minute of the baseball classic “Take Me Out To the Ball Game”, a track Rzeznik admits he doesn’t like the most, and a live cover of INXS’ 1982 single “Don’t Change” .
Some songs on Rarities are the ones the Goo Goo Dolls haven’t played live too often. “I would love to play ‘Don’t Change’ again and ‘Feel the Silence’ is one of those songs that kind of got left behind,” Rzeznik shares. “I don’t think I’ll ever do ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’ I pressured not to have that song there, but I got knocked out.
For Rzeznik, his life with Goo Goo Dolls unfolds in cycles, in albums. âIf I listen to these albums, it takes me right back into the emotional space,â he says. “I think about the circumstances that surrounded the writing of these songs, where I was where I lived, who was my girlfriend, who I was friends with or where I worked, because until ‘A Boy Named Goo , ‘we all had jobs.
Some songs still resonate with Rzeznik, but “Name”, off A boy named Goo, was a song that really changed things for the band as it didn’t get the initial reception they expected.
“‘Name’ was one of those songs that kind of sparked a paradigm shift for us, because before that we were those darlings of the critics who sold a few records, and the only people who ever wrote about you. were the ones who loved you so much when you’re known for your catchy, rowdy songs, “says Rzeznik.” Then you write a ballad and all the writers in the world are going to attack. “
He adds, âI always feel so schizophrenic about this stuff, because you have to be as vulnerable as possible. You have to write from the bones, but then you have to let it go. You have to let go of any sort of opinion or feeling about what people are saying about you. It’s such a strange mental game.
Referring to the often nefarious world of social media, sharing too much is something Rzeznik had to handle with care. âIt’s a toxic place,â he says. âIt’s an unsanitary place. I started to take it personally, and it’s hard not to because that’s what you create. It’s almost like you want to be validated and want everyone to love you, but my opinion of myself has to come from what I think about myself, what I do, my actions and of my abilities.
Rzeznik adds: âI don’t want to tell you everything. Listen to music. Listen to the lyrics. You will find out something about me.
Now, over 35 years in the Goo Goo Dolls, Rzeznik admits he sometimes has to dig deeper to find inspiration when writing. âI have to keep my antenna on a lot longer to find inspiration,â he shares. âI have to grab the moment when I have an interesting riff in my head, get the recorder out of my phone, then go home and play it on guitar or piano. I’m not one of those guys who wake up at 10, make coffee, and sit with the guitar for an hour or two writing. I can’t do this, because everything is starting to sound the same to me.
The self-production of the band’s 13th album was also something Rzeznik wanted to do to change the momentum after working with various producers over the years and even incorporated several pieces of vintage recording equipment – some dating back to the 1940s – that he has collected over the years.
âI wanted it to be a more direct reflection on where we’ve been,â says Rzeznik. âMost of the songs on this album are actual performances by the band, which I thought would give it a looser and fatter feel because these days the production is so well done. Everything is perfect, and I didn’t want it. I wanted that feeling of floating and weaving with a live band. The music cuts into some of the more primary areas.
Still writing and tightening up the lyrics, Rzeznik says the next album reflects where the band has been and is today.
âI wanted to write all the lyrics in some sort of group, because I think it will reflect what’s going on,â he said. âIt’s an interesting time to be alive.