When Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik sat down to pen his last studio album, 1998’s Dizzy Up the Girl, he was frozen by writer’s block for months before he finally loosened up enough to write. But between then and now, Rzeznik has undergone a minor transformation. He’s still as self-deprecating as ever, but as he worked on his new record, Gutterflower — which comes out April 9 — he learned to keep his pessimism and doubt from crippling his creativity.
“This time I just got a lot more comfortable with the uncertainty of what the outcome was going to be,” he said last week. “I said to myself, ’I have no control over what happens in the outside world, but I do have control over what happens in here in my bedroom with a pen and a piece of paper. The rest of it is none of my business.’ ”
The record, which was produced by Rob Cavallo (Green Day, Eric Clapton), is not exactly a return to the band’s late ’80s, hard-rockin’ roots, but it’s beefier and louder than Goo Goo Dolls’ last couple of efforts.
“It’s a lot edgier and more raw,” Rzeznik admitted. “It’s not as pretty as it was, but then again, neither am I. There is not an over-sappy track on this record and no strings. Finding some joy in playing guitar loud again was really cool.”
The first single from Gutterflower is “Here Is Gone,” a reflective track that rings with jangly guitars and yearning vocals before blossoming into a radio-ready chorus. The song is about the uncertainty of romantic love, and Rzeznik wrote it after returning from a tour and finding himself living in an apartment by himself.
“It’s a weird thing being in a big city, meeting people, being in and out of relationships,” he said. “This is the first time in my life I’ve ever lived alone. It’s weird and it can get very strange in there. That’s why I got cats. I’m stupidly allergic to them but this girl I was dating convinced me to get some cats. So we went to the rescue center and they chose me.”
A video for the song was shot by Francis Lawrence (Jennifer Lopez, Janet Jackson, Aerosmith), who used time-lapse photography to depict kids moving at their own pace through the world while everyone around them zips by at a frenzied pace.
“It’s sort of about how they’re relating or not relating to the world outside,” Rzeznik said. “It was cool to make, mostly because Francis is amazing and he’s a really nice guy, which is strange because when you work with a lot of these alleged artists they’re like, ’Yeah, just stand there and don’t get in the way of my video.’ ”