One senses many popular rock troupes don't worry much about filling a brief break between near successive tours. Most, in fact, are likely to let a break be exactly that and enjoy the time off from the road.
That's not what happened with the longstanding rock/pop troupe Goo Goo Dolls. Having completed an extensive summer tour last year with Matchbox Twenty and an even lengthier headlining run in the fall and winter to support the band's 10th studio album, Magnetic, mainstay members John Rzeznik and Robby Takac had a month off before preparation began on another summer tour, this one with Daughtry and Plain White Ts.
Their solution for how to spend the down time? Simple. Rzezik and Takac booked yet another tour. But this one would disconnect from the band's profile as a post-punk power pop troupe and present GGD as a strictly acoustic ensemble.
"We've done one-off acoustic things, but we've never really brought it out on the road before," Takac said. "So I have a feeling if this goes well, we may try it again sometime. It's fun. It really is. There is a huge group of people that have been coming to see us for a long time, and this is going to be a really unique experience for all of them.
"We're working on some songs we haven't played in probably 15 or 20 years and reinterpreting them for this new format. There is a band called Run River North (a Los Angeles group that released its self-titled debut album in February) that is opening the tour. A few of them have been nice enough to agree to perform with us, too — a violinist, a percussionist, a mandolinist — so it's a cool thing."
Known best for such monster radio hits as 1995's Name, 1998's Iris and 2010's Home, GGD's commercial visibility remains high. The Magnetic album, in fact, entered the Billboard 200 chart last summer at No. 8. But formulating a set list for the acoustic shows had Rzeznik and Takac scouring the full GGD catalog for songs that would translate to the acoustic setting. In doing so, new discoveries were made with music with which they had been out of touch for years.
"It's funny, because we don't necessarily put on Superstar Car Wash (GGD's 1993 album) and listen to it," Takac said. "You never want to get caught listening to your own records, you know? But I think if you are listening, what you hear maybe is not the recording you thought it was, just because you haven't had to listen to it in a long time. When you're forced to sit there and listen you realize the things you've learned since then, because it's been decades since we recorded some of these songs.
"It feels like when you look at that weird, awkward picture of yourself in your teenage years. You're like, 'Man, is that really what I looked like? Was my hair really like that?' So, yeah, we're definitely having some of those moments."
Lexington audiences have a long history with GGD, going back to shows at the long-defunct Short Street club The Wrocklage when harder, garage rock albums such as Goo Goo Dolls (1987) and Jed (1989) were serving as nationwide introductions to the band. Could Takac have foreseen then the level of mainstream popularity that soon would come to GGD?
"No. You don't think about that when you're 20," he said. "You're thinking about if you can manage to get a case of beer out of the club at the end of the show while apologizing because there is no one in the audience to see your band.
"You always want to think you're going to be great, but I don't think anybody really believes it. Somewhere in your head when you're younger, you think, 'Someday, I'll get a job and this will be the thing I'll talk to my kids about.' Now, 28 years later, my kid is sitting on the side of the stage watching me. It's pretty great."
Walter Tunis is a Lexington-based writer and critic.