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© Sayre Berman/Corbis
For their upcoming 10th album, Magnetic, the Goo Goo Dolls took what frontman John Rzeznik calls a "handmade approach" to each song. "We’d write one, record it, get it down, and then we’d move on," he explains. "Normally, we'd work on bits and pieces of a bunch of songs at a time. This way, it always felt as if we were getting somewhere, without all of this pressure in the air."
This approach to recording owes to the fact that the band (which also includes bassist-vocalist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin) employed multiple producers – Gregg Wattenberg, John Shanks, Rob Cavallo and Greg Wells – and tracked songs in various cities (New York, London and Los Angeles) over a nearly year-old period.
"On our last record, it was the same guys in the room for a long period of time," Rzeznik says. "Everybody got burned out and cranky, and the process became less and less fun. So this time, I collaborated with Gregg on a few songs, with John on a few songs, I worked with Rob on a few – it was fun. By moving around and working with different guys, we had fresh blood in the room all the time. Every day we had a new perspective."
Over the course of their career, the Goo Goo Dolls have scored a number of radio smashes (most notably Name and Iris, the latter of which hit No. 1 on Billboard's Top 200) and racked up album sales of over 10 million copies. Rzeznik says that he tries not to think about the charts while recording, but he admits that it's not always easy. “Success can hang in your head, but you have to think about what you’re doing now," he notes. "You have to keep things in perspective. There were lots of times when I had to say to myself, ‘It doesn’t matter what I did before. This album is going to be what it’s going to be.’ I wanted the record to be a celebration, and to capture that feeling, I had to have a good time myself. That was the main agenda – having fun."
The confident and breezy tone that prevails throughout Magnetic's 11 cuts suggests a band that has many more good years ahead of it. Rzeznik, however, approached the writing and recording sessions as if they were his last. "Who knows? I might not get a second chance to make another album," he says emphatically. "And if this is the last record I can do, it has to be the best thing possible. It’s an honor and a privilege to get to get to create and to make a living at it. Believe me, I’m incredibly grateful for the opportunities I have.”
The Goo Goo Dolls' Magnetic will be released on 11 June (you can pre-order the album at this link). On the following pages, Rzeznik discusses the writing and recording of six selected tracks.