Goo Goo Dolls Talks About The Sometimes Frustrating Recording Of Their New Album, ‘Magnetic’
If there’s one thing the Goo Goo Dolls have learned over the course of their nearly 30-year career it’s that you can’t go wrong putting a pretty girl on your album cover.
In fact, four of the band’s 10 studio albums all feature a woman on the cover: 2006’s Let Love In, 2002’s Gutterflower and their best selling release, 1998’s Dizzy Up The Girl, And of course their latest record, Magnetic, which continues the theme with an attractive young woman who’s giving one of those hard to resist come hither glances.
“I think it’s a stock photo,” drummer, Michael Malinin admitted.
“You’re supposed to lie!” Johnny Rzeznik shouted playfully.
Malinin then retells the (fake) story of the cover, which begins with the guys finding a woman who just happens to be a war-torn veteran, which certainly explains why she’s wearing the helmet.
In the end though, Rzeznik admits it’s hard to resist a pretty face. “It has this sort of Warhol vibe to it,” he said. “She’s very iconic and she’s beautiful. She’s got the little matchstick sticking out of her mouth.”
While the cover of the band’s latest album makes good use of their old tricks, the making of the record forced the trio take a whole new approach.
Before Magnetic the band tended to use only one producer per album and record it piece by piece. This means Robby Takac would come in and do his bass parts, Malinin would come in later and record the drums and then Rzeznik would work on the guitar parts and finish up the lyrics. It was a tedious process, one that they were more than happy to scrap.
“There’s a saying, which I really love,” Rzeznik said. “’The harder I work, the luckier I get’” This motto stuck with him through the recording. “[The producers] would sit there and say, ‘No, we’re not leaving until it’s done…almost like a parent telling a kid you can’t leave until your homework is done,” he explained. This do-or-die mentality forced Rzeznik to work harder than he ever has before.
While a lot of bands have a whole stack of extra songs lying around, the Goo Goo Dolls don’t have that luxury. Each album is a brand new start.
“It’s funny we don’t have piles of B-sides around really, which is, I think, a good thing,” Takac said, referencing Tupac who’s been putting out new material since his death 17 years ago.
Rzeznik agreed, “There’s a reason why a lot of your songs don’t end up on your album, it’s that they’re not that good.”
But starting from scratch every time can be troublesome. While making this record the frontman would get so frustrated he’d need to go take a walk. But he says by the time he came back, he’d have figured out the song that had gotten him flustered to begin with.
The band’s latest single, “Rebel Beat” was a song that was inspired by a walk he took in New York City. While wandering downtown he came upon a block party and found himself getting a bit emotional over the whole thing. “I felt really lonely and really connected at the same time,” he said. “I wanted to be a part of something like that.” He then went into the studio and wrote the song, which he said was about getting older and being given a second chance to make-up for past mistakes.
“At this stage in my life I see a lot of my friends and people my age who are really starting to get into this new phase of their lives,” he said. “And a lot of the really lucky ones are getting their second chance at life and love and careers and all these things. And it’s heartbreaking and it’s beautiful at the same time.”
This theme of second chances is not only on “Rebel Beat,” but is heard throughout the entire album on songs like “Caught In The Storm,” a Bruce Springsteen-inspired rock song that takes a critical look at the blue-collar lifestyle in the band’s hometown of Buffalo, New York.
But not every song was figured out after a leisurely walk. The band talks of one song in particular that somehow made its way onto the record even though all three guys agree it still doesn’t sound quite finished.
“There’s gonna be another version of that one somewhere,” Rzeznik said.
Malinin chimed in, “Six months, we’ll put it on some soundtrack somewhere.”