Four decades into their storied career, alt-rock legends Goo Goo Dolls are still discovering new and invigorating ways to make the most exciting music they’ve ever recorded. With more accolades than can fit an industrial size trophy case and global No.1s celebrated across the globe, it’d make sense for a band of such proportions to phone things in, take a step back, or merely retreat from the spotlight. Almost paradoxically, though, Goo Goo Dolls have remained at the top of their game and increasingly daring over the years precisely because the music has always been put on a pedestal that remains untainted by all of the outside laurels the band has earned. On their new album, Chaos in Bloom, Goo Goo Dolls sound like a band more confident than ever in their sound, yet constantly looking for fresh ways to get their story across. Marking their first record ever to be produced by lead singer John Rzeznik, it’s an album of biting sarcasm, stadium-ready choruses, and spear-sharp songwriting. In short, it’s a quintessential Goo Goo Dolls album.
Lead single “Yeah, I Like You” kicks the record off with a rousing acoustic guitar line that hits like a gut punch, before Rzeznik comes roaring in with searing wit: “I met the queen of generation fame/ I said ‘I’m sorry, I don’t know your name/ And she stared at me/ And she said/ ‘Hey man, could you tell me your name’/ I said, ‘You wouldn’t know it anyway.’” The song effortlessly and effectively critiques our celebrity culture, the people who work so hard to look so disaffected and mask insecurities with obnoxious self-assuredness. “In a world that is just drowning in social media and internet stars, many of whom are certainly talented, but many confirm that in 2022 you can be famous for doing nothing,” explains Rzeznik. “Celebrity in the TikTok age has a very quick burn. It was hard not to be consumed by it during the pandemic.”
Chaos in Bloom isn’t necessarily an album borne out by the pandemic, but many of the songs do reflect on all of the things in daily life that became amplified while everyone was trapped at home. After all, before embarking on their forthcoming 2022 Chaos in Bloom North American tour, the band had been on their longest hiatus from the road since they began making music. The band decamped to Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, New York, and embarked on something of a summer camp, working on the songs Rzeznik and bassist and songwriter Robby Takac penned during the pandemic. An environment as remote as it is rich with historic rock music roots, the location proved to be the perfect setting for such a record, which captures a true live quality by blending vintage instruments and gear with new recording processes and techniques.
“There was an awful lot of stuff to reflect on, especially when you were alone for a lot of it. You were sequestered for a lot of it. There’s a lot of time to think about stuff and a lot of time to watch the world fall apart outside of your house. That made its way into the songs.”
The songs on Chaos veer from personal reflections on the state of the world to social commentaries, like on “Let The Sun,” which finds Rzeznik exploring the societal inequalities in our world today and the figures who look down on us from their “towers in the sky,” having nothing but disdain for those on the streets. It’s a protest anthem for our dystopian modernity, but fits effortlessly into the pop-rock epics that span the record.
Bassist Robby Takac handles the vocals and songwriting duties on “Loving Life,” which searches for optimism in the landscape the group is often so disenchanted with. “I’ve been trying to have a relationship with the bigger picture,” Takac explains, before adding, “and refining happiness and what it means from that perspective.” It’s a sliver of insularity sandwiched between opuses for the working class, a call to arms for a better, more empathetic world.
Four decades in, it’s impossible not to marvel at the sheer determination of the Goo Goo Dolls to remain a constantly evolving band. Stasis is human nature, but the band has defied these odds to create a work that is both unique and could only be made by this band at this time. “I just want to keep making music that’s interesting to me,” says Rzeznik. “I’m a different person now than I was when “Iris” came out, but you hope that the music can grow with you and change with you, and you hope your audience grows with you, too.”
With Chaos In Bloom, the Goo Goo Dolls have tapped into a sort of magic that only comes with time, practice, and respect. The album is an instant addition to the band’s classic canon, but one that will grow the scope of their POV. “It’s just such a gift to have songs that everyone loves,” says Takac, before Rzeznik adds the perfect caveat for this new era: “Chaos in Bloom reminded us how special this whole thing is and to cherish the relationships that we have together…where we’ve been, and where we’re going.”
Formed by Rzeznik and Takac in Buffalo, NY during 1986, Goo Goo Dolls have quietly broken records, contributed a string of staples to the American songbook, connected to millions of fans, and indelibly impacted popular music for three-plus decades. Beyond selling 15 million records worldwide, the group has garnered four GRAMMY® Award nominations and nearly a dozen platinum & gold singles combined, and seized a page in the history books by achieving 16 number one and Top 10 hits. As a result, they hold the all-time radio record for “Most Top 10 Singles.”
Thus far, A Boy Named Goo  has gone double-platinum, Dizzy Up The Girl five-times-platinum, and Gutterflower  and Let Love In  both went gold as Something for the Rest of Us  and Magnetic  bowed in the Top 10 of the Billboard Top 200. Their music continues to reach new audiences around the world and rack up platinum & gold certifications – including the recently-platinum “Slide”, “Black Balloon” and “Better Days” – and has been covered by everyone from Taylor Swift to Phoebe Bridgers and Maggie Rogers.
Among a string of hits, “Iris” clutched #1 on the Hot 100 for 18 straight weeks and would be named “#1 Top 40 Song of the Last 20 Years.” On the heels of going viral on TikTok, the track recently achieved seven-times-platinum status and re-entered the Billboard charts, yet again proving the timelessness of Goo Goo Dolls’ illustrious catalog.
Tom Bowlus recently had the chance to hook up with Robby Takac on the road for a Zoom interview. In addition to his busy schedule with Goo Goo Dolls, Robby is also the founder of the Music Is Art festival and foundation.
Check out Tom’s 2019 audio podcast interview with Robby here: https://www.bassgearmag.com/tom-bowlus-interviews-robby-takac/
Chaos in Bloom arrives August 12th; pre-orders available here: https://GooGooDolls.lnk.to/CIB
Check out the official video for “Yeah, I Like You”: https://GooGooDolls.lnk.to/YILYVideo
Learn more about Goo Goo Dolls online @ https://www.googoodolls.com/
Learn more about Music Is Art online @ https://www.musicisart.org/