Goo Goo Doll Robby Takac: Not Just The Bass Player
Takac talks about Friday's gig at the Wellmont Theatre
You might not know it from his strong, stoic stage presence, but Robby Takac has plenty to say. The bassist (and sometime songwriter) for The Goo Goo Dolls is a smart, opinionated guy who doesn't just hold down the bottom-end for this great pop-punk band. He's also producing artists, running a record label and, refreshingly enough, is actually optimistic about the new paradigm that is the 21st Century record business.
On Friday, though, he, singer/songwriter John Rzeznik, and drummer Mike Malinin will be rocking The Wellmont Theatre with their trademark mix of New Wave sass, heartbreaking lyricism, and crackling rock and roll energy.
"Like John, I was essentially a 70s AM radio kid," said the upbeat Takac. "I loved stuff as disparate as Sly and the Family Stone, Roberta Flack, and The Stones. After that, I went through a sort of metal period, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, then punk stuff. As far as my playing goes, I always had a bit of an identity crisis. On one hand, I've always felt that bass players should be like Bill Wyman or John Entwistle. Stand in back and anchor the beat. But then, I also really love the guys who are just total personalities. You know, Gene Simmons and Sid Vicious. Somehow, it's all worked out okay."
Since they formed in 1986, The Goo Goo Dolls have somehow managed to fold in a wealth of musical influences and somehow make it sound cool, commercial, and organic. With a core sound that betrays the Hard Fast Rules! of punk, Rzeznik's my-heart-is-an-open-book lyrics, catchy choruses, and rock-solid rhythms, The Goo Goos have been a hit act since the single "Name" broke in 1995 and landed them squarely on the world stage. Producing more ethereal beauties like "Iris" and "Black Balloon" and pop-rockers like "Slide," these guys have walked the line between AOR sheen and punk passion with grace and dignity.
Although playing in The Goo Goo Dolls is Takac's "rock band, my main gig," he's also been branching out in impressive and surprising ways in recent years. In fact, he's on his way to becoming a mini-mogul in the music biz. Mostly due to, uh, Japanese Punk Pop.
He said: "I recently co-produced the new Shone Knife album with my wife. They are a great band from Japan, who've really made inroads in the states. Plus, several other groups in Japan heard what we were doing and wanted us to help them, too. So my wife and I formed Good Charamel Records to release this growing roster of artists. It's exciting but exhausting. Because it can consist of everything from producing to driving the Shonen women around in the van. But the future of it looks pretty bright."
Plus Takac, bless him, is one of the few musicians you'll talk to these days who doesn't think the New Music Model is a bad thing. He feels the whole deal is very, very cool.
"Despite what the doomsayers claim," he said, "the music business is always going to be here in some form. Certainly, it's changing. My feeling is, the apps are going to be the new record labels. You'll have one for Power Pop or Metal or Japanese Punk and that will be how you'll find your music. That's great, I think."
The bassist also sees The Net as his ally, not enemy, when it comes to establishing his own new label.
"Even if some of the music giants collapse, there are always going to be people who need and want music. And they'll need people to provide it," he said. "Sometimes, it even makes sense to give it away for free, because it's great advertising for the act's other material, or if someone wants to license a song. There are so many ways to get your product out there now. And I think, democratically, it's going to be good for a lot of cool bands."
Speaking of cool bands, what's up with those living Dolls of his?
"We've been on the road a lot, as usual," Takac said. "But the plan is to get into the studio soon and start making a new record. These days you constantly have to produce. Unlike the 70s, when you could make your mark, then take off 5 years and go live in a castle in France, now you have stick around. People only seem to care about new stuff that's right in front of them every morning on their computer. So, you have to keep providing it for them."
The bass player mentions that the Deluxe Edition of the most recent Goo Goo Dolls album ("Something For The Rest Of us") will be out soon with some bonus songs-covers of Ray Davies and Pete Townshend tunes—and then it'll be time to do something new with Rzeznik and Malinin.
"All in all, it's been a great year for us," said the ever effervescent dude, who's clearly more than just a bass player. "And I think the future, too, looks really bright. It's like most things. You just need to keep your mind open about it."
Info: The Goo Goo Dolls will be at The Wellmont Theatre on Friday, November 11. Tickets are $40 in advance, $45 the day of the show. The concert starts at 8 p.m. and doors open at 7 p.m. For more information call 973-783-9500 or go here.