Singer-guitarist John Rzeznik jokes that when the Goo Goo Dolls take to the stage at Philly's Wawa Welcome America! celebration Sunday night, he'll have to don one of his three "rock-star outfits." After all, it's not every day you get to perform in front of a crowd that might be up to 500,000 people.
"It's wild; we're pretty excited," Rzeznik, 44, said by phone. "I think it's going to be awesome - a huge highlight in our career."
And it's a career that's had many highlights, beginning with the Goo Goo Dolls' 1995 breakthrough single, "Name," which arrived after nearly 10 years of toiling in small clubs, often in their hometown of Buffalo, N.Y.
Three years later, the punk-rock-turned-pop-infused trio - Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac, and drummer Mike Malinin - cemented its stardom with the three-million-selling Dizzy Up the Girl CD, which yielded four Top 10 hits, including "Slide" and the achingly romantic "Iris," which spent 17 weeks in the No. 1 spot. Suddenly, the band Rzeznik says "never had these grand expectations" became a household name.
"Someone once told me, 'Speak your mind, dig as hard as you can, and see where it takes you,' and that's what we've done," he said. Something for the Rest of Us, the Goo Goo Dolls' upcoming studio album - its ninth, and first in four years - touches on the economic hardships and sense of emotional disconnection now commonplace to many Americans.
"I'm not the kind of person who wants to make a grand political statement, but we're dealing with the emotional impact of living in a society where there's a bad economy and two wars that look like they're never going to end," Rzeznik said. "These things affect people's psyches and their relationships; we need to reframe and look at what's really important."
Three producers - Tim Palmer, Butch Vig, and John Fields - all had a hand in the final product, as Rzeznik and bandmates struggled to get the record "where we wanted it to be - but we got there." Backed by two supporting musicians onstage, the Goos' 37-city tour lands in Atlantic City and Philadelphia for back-to-back shows this weekend.
"We love entertaining people," Rzeznik said. "That live connection is like no other."