Robby Takac is the bassist for and founding member of the Goo Goo Dolls, the famed rock band from New York. The band, created in 1986, has 36 years worth of music under its belt.
The band started as a three piece – John Rzeznik, Takac and George Tutuska– but in 2022, Rzeznik and Takac are the last men standing and just released their thirteenth album, Chaos in Bloom.
The Post sat down with Takac to talk about touring, being a musician during a pandemic, the album and more:
The Post: The band has been on tour recently. How has it been?
Takac: Oh, amazing, man. Johnny and I have pretty much been on tour since we were 20, so taking a couple of years off from that exchange of energies (and) from the folks who come and see us play was really a strange time for us. Our lives were basically built around being on tour. I got to experience some tomato growing with my daughter, but we didn’t get to do any shows, so it’s been amazing to be back again … This experience definitely put things into perspective a little bit more for us.
P: You mentioned you and John (Rzeznik) have been rocking together for a long time. What is it like to spend so much quality time working on a craft like music?
Takac: John and I have been doing this together since we were kids, since we were in college, so it’s been 30-some years. There’s been many different phases of this band, many different phases of us as people, various stages of sobriety and various plateaus of success. It’s been an adventure, the whole thing, but we managed to stick it out. A lot of the bands that we came up with weren’t lucky enough to make it through the trials and tribulations and all those other things that come with being in a band for that long.
P: How are you guys feeling about the new album, Chaos in Bloom, coming out?
Takac: We went out and made this record during the pandemic. We started it during the height of it the vaccines weren’t even out yet. We went and rented an old church out in the middle of the woods in Woodstock, New York, and basically just saw each other, the engineers and the waitress at the corner diner. I feel like this record is probably the purest sound we’ve had in an awfully long time. The last few records we made with a few producers and we were in New York and LA and a lot of people (were) in and out of the sessions because we were in big cities, (with) a lot of life permeating in the sessions. With this one, we really just felt like we were locked up just with our ideas making a record and that hadn’t happened in a really long time. So when I think about this record, I feel like it’s pretty exciting that we’re able, after all these years, to make a record that feels a bit more like that.
P: Thirteen albums is a lot to make together. How do you make sure you don’t get burnt out and you’re staying authentic to what you want to make?
Takac: The whole concept of where you’re steering everything seems so weighty when you’re doing one bar of music at a time. You just do your best and just move forward. Try to do something that you haven’t done ever, if possible, try not to repeat yourself and depend on your inner guidance system.
P: This is the first album that John Rzeznik solely produced. Did that alter your usual recording process at all? Was there anything in particular that stood out from that experience in comparison to anything that you guys have done in the past?
Takac: We’ve obviously made a lot of records and he and I have co-produced as the Goo Goo Dolls with Rob Cavallo, Lou Giordano ... So it was never like we weren’t involved, it was just that we would always bring someone in from the very beginning to be part of the process. Quite often, honestly, they wouldn’t last until the end of the project because John likes to go deep and, rightfully so, producers have other projects to do; their only gig isn’t this, but this is our only gig so we have the time and patience to deal with that kind of thing … And as the record came on, we brought some people in to help, but it felt like the purity of the process was (something) we hadn’t had since we were kids in a dorm room together and nobody cared about what kind of record we were making.
P: What do you think draws people to listen to a full Goo Goo Dolls album after they hear a hit like “Iris” or “Slide?”
Takac: Usually that’s the hook. We’ve been around for a while so there’s the ‘car seat hostage syndrome’ where these kids’ parents were listening to us in the ‘90s and we were on the radio constantly in the ‘90s so they’re familiar with all those songs. Lately, TikTok has been a huge help for us, we’ve been trending numerous times with folks like Lizzo, Phoebe Bridgers and Dua Lipa who are tipping their hat to “Iris” or “Slide”… We tapped into the mainstream of America about 20 years ago and that tends to carry on, we’re three generations deep. Sometimes people write to us and say “I’m bringing my daughter and she’s bringing her daughter (to a show)” and when you start to hear that, that’s pretty exciting.
P: If people are just now becoming familiar with the Goo Goo Dolls (because of TikTok), what does this new album offer for all of your audiences no matter the age?
Takac: We came from a generation of people who wrote music based on what they experienced between the last time they made a record and this (next) time. Let’s face it, we’ve lived through some pretty crazy s--- over the past couple of years and I don’t think we have grasped what we’ve lived through. So I think we talked pretty honestly about some of the things we saw during that time and I think there’s a lot there for people to chew on. And, escapism is an amazing thing but when you can weave in some of what’s going on currently I think it makes it pretty potent.
P: The band has a partnership with Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation for the tour. How was that connection established and what drew you all to the organization?
Takac: One of our staff of managers had been involved with them and they do some great work so every night we auction off autographed guitars out front … to help them with their work.
P: Do you have a favorite song on the album?
Takac: We’ve been playing a song called “Going Crazy” off the record when we’ve been playing live and it has been getting a really great response so that’s probably my favorite one at the moment.
P: How does it feel to have fans so quickly learn those lyrics?
Takac: I’m just glad there’s people coming to the shows, (it’s) crazy after all these years. Every time I walk out ,I’m like “Oh my god, thank god they’re still here.”
Chaos in Bloom is out August 12. For more information about the Goo Goo Dolls, check out googoodolls.com.
To listen to the full interview, check out the podcast version here.