John Rzeznik: "I am still looking for that perfect song."

In 1998 Goo Goo Dolls came out with the smash hit Iris. Not too long ago the song was recognized as Billboard's best pop song of 1992-2012. Despite all that the band's frontman and songwriter John Rzeznik claims to be still searching for the perfect song.

Robby Takac and John Rzeznik are coming to CT. Photo credit: Chapman Baehler. 

Let’s get the “polish” question out of the way. You’re from Buffalo, NY and all of your four grandparents were Polish. How Polish is John Rzeznik himself?

JR: I don’t speak any Polish, because of my mother, who was very much into “You have to speak English! Speak English!” kind of attitude. I wish we learned more. But I recall my father and his mother speaking only Polish to each other. Also we always had this real, traditional Polish meal on Christmas Eve. My sisters love to cook all that Polish food.

Summer Tour with Daughtry will kick off
on June 12 in Wallingford, CT.
Since you are from Buffalo, NY, do you celebrate the Dyngus Day?

JR: (laughter) Dyngus Day is a big deal in Buffalo! I was surprised a lot of people don’t know about Dyngus Day outside of that part of the world. I heard someone talking to somebody that lives out here and they were like: “we don’t know anything about that”. And I was like: “Wow! That’s strange that you don’t know anything about the Dyngus Day!”

Have you ever visited Poland? Do you know where your ancestors are from?

JR: No, I don’t know where my ancestors are from. I should find that out. I have never been to Poland either. I would love to go, it’s just I always work. Non-stop. I got my work ethics from my father. He was very Polish, his work ethics were pretty intense. He had to be working constantly.

You were raised in a house with 4 sisters. Was is smooth sailing or the biggest challenge of your life?

JR: (laughter) That was the biggest challenge of my life! I am going to just say it - yes! Having four older sisters is a big challenge. I cannot imagine a bathroom line in the morning for example, but we got lucky on that one, because we lived in a house that was divided into two separate apartments. So my dad and I we’d get the front bathroom and the girls had the back bathroom to themselves. So it actually was not that bad at all.

Did they embrace you as the youngest of the bunch?

JR: Two of my older sisters embraced me as this fun, little toy to play with and I had a great time with them. My two younger sisters, whom I am very close in age to - that’s the ones I would always got into argument and fights.

Magnetic is GGDs' 10th album.
Your folks - Edith and Joseph - had some musical talents, which obviously you’ve inherited plenty of. Is that what prompted you to go out and start a rock band?

JR: Yeah, there was always music around the house. My mother always played the flute or the piano. She encouraged me to take accordeon classes when I was 9. I did not want to play it, cause I did not think it was cool. It was actually pretty rough. My friends were like: “What?” (laughter) And I wanted to play the drums and that lasted about a week before my mom went insane. It was like: “You cannot do that anymore.” So we sold the drums and we bought - it cost us about $75 - this electric guitar. But we did not have an amp, so played without it. So I have been playing guitar since I was like 12 or 13.

In one of the interviews you’ve stated that if you had 5 more minutes the band would not be called Goo Goo Dolls. Let’s say I give you 5 mins right now - what would be the alternative name for the band?

JR: Oh, my Gosh! Wow! I couldn’t even tell you! I thought about it… You know, I’ve had nights when I was like: “You know what? I bet I can come up with something!” And I would have this great name, but by the morning I’d forget it all. The name’s been with us for so long. It sort of doesn’t mean anything anymore.

But you don’t deny that at some point you thought of changing the name?

JR: No, but by the time we wanted to change the name we already started having the audience. So we couldn’t really do that for that reason.

This Memorial Day the band will be 28 years old. Have you ever thought it will be such a long ride?

JR: No. I think we take it a day at a time. It’s like a marriage. You try to make everyday ok and put the effort into it. Go through 24 hours and hope that the next 24 will get better.

I am sure you have had your share of ups and downs. What was the most difficult thing that you had to endure?

JR: We put the record out and we sold a couple of million copies and because we signed a bad deal we did not get paid. It was a lot, a lot of money. That was a hard lesson we needed to learn, to be more careful, to grow up a little bit.

New album - Magnetic - is your 10th one. How is it different from the previous ones and how has it been received so far?

JR: Reception of the album has been really, really good. It’s different from the previous albums because it’s been much more lighthearted, much more up-tempo positive. It’s sort of like my interpretation of the songs is that they connect the infatuation of being in love with somebody with something more important. And feeling inspired and connected.

14 - top ten singles, 4 Grammy nominations, 10 million albums worldwide sold, Hal David Starlight Award won in 2008 - which one of these are you most proud of and why?

JR: I think it would have to be the Hal David Award, because the thing that means the most to me - more than being in a band, more than getting to play on stage, all that - is to be a songwriter. And to have other songwriters acknowledge you was a really great feeling. Definitely better than a Grammy.

And how about having your own Day in Buffalo? Actually I heard that it’s two days?

JR: (laughter) We do have two Goo Goo Dolls Days in Buffalo! One mayor came and established it and then the other mayor did not know about it so he made another one! (laughter) I haven’t been to any of these, so I don’t know what they look like. I don’t think there’s any parades. (laughter) But it would be nice to go there on a Goo Goo Dolls Day and maybe do like a charity event.

...and surprise everyone?

JR: That’s actually a very good idea! I might do that!

At the end of 2012 Iris was named Billboard’s best Pop song of 1992-2012. What does it take to write such a beauty and why is it so difficult?

JR: I was in a really interesting place in my life at that time. I was going through a divorce and I was living in a hotel in California. I was doing a lot of introspective thinking and everything kind of lined up. That song is a gift from somewhere else. When I think about that song it’s like it has been given to me. I am not trying to say in a sense that I am still gifted, but I am trying to say that that song came from God or whatever you want to call it. Because it did not feel like I was in control of what was going on in there.

Wow, pretty deep! But for the moment I thought that you’d say - if you want to write a hit song, just go through a divorce!

JR: (laughter) No!

You have had many hits apart from Iris, but which one is your favorite?

JR: I like ‘Come to Me’ - it’s just a fun song to play. I like playing ‘Broadway’. And ‘Iris’ of course, because that’s the song that people tend to gravitate toward the most.

Hard to believe, but Robbie is going to be 50 this year and you will reach that milestone in the next one…

JR: No, no, no! I am only 48! I was born in December, so I still got time!

Two questions with that in regard: first: are you happy with your achievements and second: what’s left for you to prove?

JR: I just want to find my own stride and find the place where I am comfortable in my own skin. And definitely still looking for this perfect song.

Soon you will visit the beautiful state of Connecticut on two different occasions. What would you like to say to your fans to come out and see you in Ridgefield 4/8 and Wallingford 6/12?

JR: In April we will be coming to Connecticut with Otis Midnight Sessions. It’s like an acoustic history of our band. We go back really, really far into the catalog: playing songs that are 24-25 years old and going up to today. It’s in a more of storyteller’s format. We’ve never had a chance to tell the story of the band in a concert form and that’s what we’re doing. We’re also making a documentary out of it.

And the summer tour with Daughtry?

JR: It’s going to be an amazing summer night with rock music. It’s going to be warm, the vibes will be good, everyone will have a great time.

Philanthropy - you have always found a way to give back. Free concert in Buffalo, food bank, save the music foundation - it’s remarkable and well done. What made you so well rounded in that regard - not everyone is like you?

JR: We’ve been really, really lucky and you have to give that back. It keeps things on even pace. It’s gives to what you do more meaning if you are able to do something good to someone. I have to admit: I have a pretty awesome life and I gotta give it back.

Since you’ve never visited Poland - why not performing at Woodstock Poland Festival? It’s the biggest musicfest in Europe!

JR: Polish Woodstock? (laugher) Wow! I’d love to do something like that! That’d be fun!

by: Tomek Moczerniuk


Tickets to Goo Goo Dolls concerts can be purchased at:

Album Magnetic can be purchased on iTunes:

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