Goo Goo Dolls Gear Up For Grammys, Mick and Keith

Buffalo, N.Y., power-pop band nominated for three Grammys; will open dates on Rolling Stones arena tour in March.

His band was recently nominated for three Grammys, booked for several opening dates with the Rolling Stones and has an album newly certified platinum — 1 million sold. But Goo Goo Dolls frontman Johnny Rzeznik seems more excited about the chance to tend bar.

“I hear the Rolling Stones travel with their own bar,” singer/guitarist Rzeznik, 31, said. “I’m going to ask if they’ll let me tend bar one night, so I can serve up Buffalo-style cocktails. It would be surreal standing behind the bar, shaking up a martini for Keith Richards.”

Not that Rzeznik would be in awe of the wiry Stones guitarist. “He’d better tip me,” Rzeznik warned.

Rzeznik’s brash attitude notwithstanding, the Goo Goo Dolls are benefiting from the success of their latest album, Dizzy Up The Girl, which was released last September and features the hit single “Iris” (RealAudio excerpt). The demand for their talents is high.

The Buffalo, N.Y.-based group — whose core members are Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin — plans to spend much of January making television appearances and gearing up to open for the Stones’ American arena tour from March 20-29. Although excited about the prospect of playing TV gigs such as Monday’s (Jan. 11) American Music Awards, Rzeznik said that it’s not exactly a comfortable experience.

“It makes my knees knock,” Rzeznik said. “It scares the hell out of me. I always have to have a cocktail before I go on TV … among other things. I’m like on the street, trying to find some doctor to prescribe me some Valium or something.”

Despite assembling a catalog of amplified power-pop tunes since their formation in 1985, the trio have won mainstream success in recent years for acoustic tracks such as “Name” (RealAudio excerpt), from 1995′s A Boy Named Goo album, and “Iris,” which was first heard as part of the soundtrack to the film “City of Angels.” It’s a circumstance that hasn’t escaped Takac’s notice.

“A song like that can go the most places,” Takac said. “I don’t think ‘Name’ or ‘Iris’ are any more emotional than other songs Johnny writes, but they really have a slant on them that works in so many places.”

For his part, Rzeznik said he doesn’t mind if the acoustic ballads are what people like to hear. But he added that he didn’t just kow-tow to the expectations of his fans and the music industry on Dizzy Up The Girl, which was the Goo Goo Dolls’ sixth album.

Even with Rob Cavallo (Green Day) producing and keyboardist Benmont Tench of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fleshing out the album’s catchy pop-rock sound, the band threw a few curves. For example, there’s the dark theme of “Broadway,” a tribute to a poverty-stricken section of the band’s hometown and the people that inhabit it. More daunting was the abbreviated album track “Acoustic #3.”

“I made that song a minute-and-a-half long on purpose,” Rzeznik said. “I didn’t want some guy from the record company coming along and looking to make that our next single.”

Even with the commercial success of songs such as “Iris,” which was nominated for Record of the Year and Song of the Year Grammys, Rzeznik doesn’t think that the Feb. 24 Grammy Awards show at the Shrine Auditorium is going to be an occasion for his band to collect any trophies. Brandy, Celine Dion, Madonna and Shania Twain are among the Goo Goo Dolls’ fellow nominees.

“I don’t expect to win, but it’s nice to be noticed,” said Rzeznik. “I know it’s a cliché, but being nominated is the cool part. The actual winning? C’mon, look at who I’m up against. But maybe I’ll get to meet Madonna.”