By John J. MOSER
For the first nine albums of its career, the Goo Goo Dolls followed pretty much the same recording pattern: When the band felt it was time for a new album, “you’d sort of like lock yourself in a bunker and make the record happen. Don’t walk out until you’ve got 12 songs,” bassist Robby Takac said.
That system seemed to work pretty well: Since its commercial peak with its 1998 triple-platinum album “Dizzy Up The Girl” — with hits “Iris,” “Slide,” “Broadway” and “Black Balloon” — the Goo Goo Dolls has had three albums that all went top 10 and had at least one song (and up to three) that charted likewise.
But the process also meant lapses of four years between each of those discs.
With its newest disc, “Magnetic,” which was released this month, the band decided to take a different approach and tackled a new album one song at a time.
“The process was a lot different this time,” said Takac. “We went through, we did one, maybe two songs at a time. So we didn’t really feel like we had this huge pile of songs sitting on top of use like we did in the past. So it was fun — it was cool.”
For the past year, Takac and his wife have been busy with a new baby daughter — “like every father, I was like, she’s the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” he said — so much of the songwriting fell to singer John Rzeznik, who co-wrote much of the disc with producer Gregg Wattenberg in New York.
Takac says that after a couple of darker records, such as the last disc, 2008’s “Something for the Rest of Us,” Rzeznik made an effort to write more uplifting songs for the new disc.
“Then we all got together, went through the songs, jammed a lot of it, and then recorded them,” Takac said.
The band’s old approach, Takac said, usually would end up burying the band “under a big pile of songs. What usually ended up happening was that the record would take us like a full year to make because we’d be underneath all these things that needed to be finished all at the same time.
“It was always like we’d have 12 songs musically recorded, and we’d have 10 of those have like half the lyrics. And with Pro-tools, all of a sudden your options are just endless musically. You start getting into this weird, sort of swirling, second-guessing yourself.
“When you do a song at a time, you really don’t have a chance to do that. You know, you’re done. We did some tweaks along the way, but in general, we’d move on to the next idea once one was finished. I think it sort of alleviated some of the pressure and allowed us to work a little bit more quickly.
“I think what we found when things were focused on just one at a time was that you could sort of finish your song, clear your head and move onto the next thing. So I think that’s why we were able to finish it so much quicker this time.”
Takac notes that “Magnetic” is the band’s 10th album, “which is pretty crazy to me. We’ve been putting out records for a long time, and 10 albums is sort of a benchmark. You have a body of work at that point.”
Billboard magazine last fall compiled statistics that showed Goo Goo Dolls have had more top-10 songs than any other artist on the Adult Contemporary chart in the past decade, and “Iris” was No. 1 over that time.
“That’s crazy, huh?” Takac said. “I can’t say anything other than just that I’m so unbelievably thankful that whatever the chemistry to allow the band to stay together and still make music, I’m just so glad that it’s still there. I don’t know — I’m amazed. I’m amazed and I’m happy.”