The Goo Goo Dolls are back on the road after a two-year hiatus amid the pandemic. But for lead singer and guitarist John Rzeznik, returning to live music venues and releasing the band’s new album "Chaos in Bloom" required more than overcoming COVID-19 twice.
In March, "I had a nick on my vocal cord and I tore a ligament in my elbow,” Rzeznik, 56, recalls. “I had to stay completely silent for two weeks. I’m sitting there going, ‘Oh, my God. I have no other skills! I can’t go get a job.’ ”
Vocal rest and “massive doses of Prednisone” for his voice, along with physical therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection for his elbow, prevented Rzeznik from the task of dusting off his resume. Before a recent show in Holmdel, New Jersey, he spoke with USA TODAY about hitting the road again.
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John Rzeznik has a new appreciation for the Goo Goo Dolls' success
Between two postponements and two injuries, Rzeznik found himself with plenty of time to reflect on his full-time job as a musician and the Goo Goo Dolls' success. The band's Grammy-nominated song "Iris" also just hit a milestone, joining Spotify's billion-streams club.
"You can tend to sort of take it for granted," the Buffalo, New York-native says. “Our lives were upended ... having it taken away was eye-opening.
"The hardest part for me was feeling the loss of purpose. And I think a lot of people felt that.”
No matter how divided Americans are, 'we're all singing the same song,' he says
The band's current tour started in July and wraps with a hometown show in Buffalo on Sept 24. The Goo Goo Dolls will take a month off before kicking off a new set of dates in late October.
"No matter how divided this country seems to be, whenever they come into where we're playing, we've all got one thing in common," Rzeznik says. "That's a good place to start. That's what I like about live music. We're all singing the same song."
The songs they're singing include a mix of the band's radio singles and cuts from new album.
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John Rzeznik's new road routine includes virtual singing lessons
As for his life on the road, it’s far different from previous years, but the changes have nothing to do with COVID-19. He got married in 2013, got sober in 2014 and became a first-time father in 2016. Both his wife Melina and 5-year-old daughter Liliana joined him for the Holmdel show, about 30 miles away from where the family lives in Westfield. Rzeznik’s day consists of soundcheck, a meet-and-greet, interviews and a daily singing lesson via Zoom with Eric Vetro. The vocal coach has worked with several big names including Katy Perry, Ariana Grande and Shawn Mendes.
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“At the beginning of this tour, it was a mental thing, because I was worried about hurting (my vocal cord) again,” he says. “So I wasn’t going for it (vocally). He helped me a lot.”
He doesn't spend his time on the road using social media
The band kicks off its show with "Yeah, I Like You," the first single from the new album. It's about a musician getting sucked into the world of "instant celebrity," a world that Rzeznik prefers not to reside in.
"I don't do (social media)," he reveals. "I give the illusion that I'm doing it, which I've just blown my cover completely." He has a social media manager, "and if I want to say something I'll call him or I'll text him."
"The anonymity of social media really emboldens people to be jerks. You can say that you hate my band, but don't talk about my friends or my family."
'Chaos in Bloom' won't be the Goo Goo Dolls' last chapter
The band released its first Christmas album in 2020. "Chaos" marks the first LP that Rzeznik serves as a producer on the entire release. And he hopes the band's evolution doesn't end there.
"I haven't run out of things I want to do," Rzeznik says. "I still have ideas for songs in my head. I'm not ready to just hang it up and be a nostalgia act. I'm still swinging. That's all you can ask for."
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Goo Goo Dolls' John Rzeznik returns to touring after vocal cord scare