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Goo Goo Dolls' Robby Takac on Otis Midnight Sessions and summer tour

Pop rockers The Goo Goo Dolls are heading back to Michigan on two big tours over the next few months.

Goo Goo Dolls on stage at DTE 7-6-13
Tracy Heck

The band will be bringing their acoustic tour, The Otis Midnight Sessions, to East Lansing on Wednesday, April 23rd at the Pasant Theater in the Wharton Center on the Michigan State University campus.

The band will be returning to the area when they play Clarkston later this summer with Daughtry and Plain White T's.

The DTE Energy Music Theater stop will be on Wednesday, July 2nd.

Last summer the band brought their massive tour with Matchbox Twenty to the venue and have continued to tour ever since in support of their latest album Magnetic.

Last week, Goo Goo Dolls bassist, Robby Takac, took some time out from the band's rehearsals for The Otis Midnight Sessions to talk about both upcoming tours and to look back on the band's history.

Q: The acoustic tour starts pretty soon right?

Robby: Yeah in the next few days actually. I think we have about four or five more rehearsals.

Q: What can those coming out to these shows expect?

Robby: We've got a lot of albums out and we've got a couple of acoustic songs on all of them so we've pulled out some of those and compiled them in with some of our more rock songs. You know, some of our more popular songs have been re-interpreted a bit. We've got a great band opening for us called Run River North. They have some violin players and some mandolin players and some guitar players and singers that will join us during the show. So it should be really cool.

Q: What made you guys decide to do this acoustic tour?

Robby: Johnny's [Rzeznik, vocalist] been talking about it forever. You know, wanting to do something like this, and we just never really sort of had the right time. Everything just hasn't lined up for us to have it. We just finished a Canadian tour in February, which I don't recommend because it's really cold, but we had a little bit of time off before we started another package tour with Daughtry and Plain White T's so we decided this was a great time for it. We're gonna film some of it. I don't know what we're going to use it for yet but we're going to film it and record a bunch of it. You know, it should be great. We've been playing a long time and we have some pretty great folks who come out and see us play and I think this is going to be a pretty cool thing for them to do. We started the sales off with fan club sales first and the venues are all really small. I think the biggest was like 900 seats or something like that. Most of them are about 400 I guess.

Q: Is there a song that you're looking forward to getting out and playing on this tour?

Robby: We've just been rehearsing like I said. It's been a lot of fun here to do songs that I sample strings on all the time and to hear it with real strings. And just to sort of just hear all of these songs pulled together which kind of shows a pretty consistent side of the band. It sort of features one side of what we do and it allows us to do a lot of different types of things. We get to use different instruments and and we have some female voices in the music and in the show as well which is pretty unique and pretty cool. Yeah it's great, we're having a blast.

Q: Are you going to be doing a lot of stuff from Magnetic on this tour or are you saving that for the Summer tour?

Robby: Well both, I mean we usually do about five or six songs from the new record. You know, about half and it's kind of funny because it gets harder and harder every year to pick out a couple of songs from every record that people want to hear. You try to squeeze it all in. That's a little bit of a wrestling match after every record.

Q: I saw you last summer when you came through with Matchbox Twenty. Do you enjoy doing those big outdoor amphitheater shows?

Robby: Yeah those are great. People feel like they can let go a little bit and lay out on the lawn and bring their kids if they want. It's great. The summers are always amazing. I mean the theater tours are great too because you're playing these beautiful places with history but it's always very dark and the stage is pretty small. When you get out in the summer you have the fresh air and just a different kind of vibe. You get a couple of bands together that people want to see and are excited about and all of a sudden there's a bunch of people there and it's a great rock show.

Q: How did the tour with Daughtry come about?

Robby: We had been bumping the idea around for the last couple of summers. Again, I guess it was just time for something like this to come together and people seem to be excited about it. The sales have been really great. I think we're gonna have another great summer.

Q: What do you have coming up after that?

Robby: I have a feeling, assuming everything goes well with the Daughtry tour, that we may carry on with this package for awhile. I mean longer than what's booked right now. Then it's just odds and ends. I mean there might be another tour here and there after that but we've done a couple of summers now so it might be time to start working on another record.

Q: Well it seems like Magnetic has gone over well. "Come to Me" has done well on the charts. How do you feel it was received?

Robby: Yeah I mean we always think we can do better, of course. [laughing] On the other hand, looking at the reality of what's out there right now I think we've done a good job of staying relevant and being on the radio and that sort of thing. I guess I can't complain about much.

Q: When I talked to Johnny before the album came out we had talked about the positive nature of this album. I think that's something that people picked up on and enjoyed.

Robby: Yeah our process got pretty dark. As a group we're not great at decision making. We sort of let things hang a little bit and so we would always end up prior to this record going into the studio with fifteen half-finished songs with the idea of leaving with twelve finished ones. It was just this enormous pile of work above our heads. John found it pretty difficult because people were asking him to be creative on command. It was kind of hard for him I think so with this one it was sort of a little bit different because I live in New York now and he lives in Los Angeles and he moved into New York City for a couple of months. He spent some time with a couple of producers in New York, just writing a little bit with them and he'd get an idea for a song together and then he'd call us up and then we'd meet up and we'd finish it. Yeah and then he'd move on to the next idea. It kept everything pretty light like you were saying. I think it came across on the record. It wasn't as heavy. It's funny because we're doing this acoustic thing now so we're playing a lot of songs from eras that we don't play that much stuff from like the Gutterflower record but now we're kind of re-visiting some of those songs. I mean you're going to make the record you're gonna make when you have a certain group of people making the record. You know, if it starts to feel really heavy then the record would start to feel that way and that is sort of what happened as we've gone along and I've seen that as you look back at the songs. That's pretty observant on John's part.

Q: How do you feel things have changed for the band as a whole since it began?

Robby: I guess the biggest thing is that I'm well into my forties now. Then I was a kid in my twenties. Actually barely into my twenties. So I guess the biggest difference is we're just way different people than we were nearly thirty years ago. The other thing is when we started we were kids locked away in a corner of a dirty warehouse trying to figure out how to make it happen and somewhere along the way it happened! Now it's like we're in a very different place than we were then but I don't feel like the struggle is any less. I don't know if that makes any sense. Obviously I don't have to freak out as much about paying my rent but at the same time I don't think that it takes up any less space in our life and I guess that's why it keeps going because we direct our attention to it and make sure that we can keep it going.

Q: What's your favorite thing about being in the band?

Robby: I've got to say touring but I've also got to say that it's like an hour and fifty minutes of the day that I really like! [laughing] The rest of it gets a little old but the good shows everyday and getting to meet people is the best thing you can do. It's fun. I think if that stuff ever stopped being fun that it would be a really crummy job.

Q: Is there still something out there that you haven't had a chance to do with the band that you've always wanted to do?

Robby: Yeah there's tons of stuff that we haven't done. We haven't been on Saturday Night Live. I'd love to do that. I mean I'm just happy to still be playing and that people are still showing up. Of course there's things that I'd love to do but I think we're lucky enough to have a lot of opportunities come along. I think fate decides a lot of that.

Q: You had a busy year. I know you played a lot of the late night circuit and you did the Super Bowl shows.

Robby: Yeah we did that. We did the tree lighting down at Rockefeller Center. That was pretty amazing. Yeah we've done a lot of great stuff man. We've played the Olympics and played for the NBA and the NHL. We've played aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. Yeah you know, in volcanoes, sides of mountains, floating on ice bergs, had plane crashes, had numerous air mishaps, just crazy man! [laughs] We've been dragged around by sled dogs and thrown in the air by a bunch of Alaskans on a walrus skin, I don't want to get into that whole thing! Yeah, crazy, crazy stuff man. I never expected that I would be able to say any of that stuff but like I said, they're all opportunities that just presented themselves. We've been so unbelievable lucky that way.

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