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Goo Goo Dolls’ John Rzeznik Babbles About ‘America’s Next Great Band’

[IMG:L]American Idol has made stars out of even the losers in the music competition. Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar and William Hung— well, he sold an album. It’s been all about the solo artists for so long, it’s time for bands to get their dues. Fox’s newest talent competition, America’s Next Great Band asks the question: “Hey, this’ll still work, right?”

The Next Great American Band has the same format as American Idol, since it’s from the same producers. Another panel of music industry veterans will judge the groups, including Aussie TV host Ian Dickson and artists Sheila E. and John Rzeznik. Voting viewers will narrow down the competition between performing acts and ultimately pick the winner.

Coming off the Goo Goo Dolls’ latest tour, frontman Rzeznik is ready to pay it forward. The Goo Goo Dolls have enjoyed decades of success since the alternative movement of the 1990s. Perhaps he can help bring The Next Great American Band to light.

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Hollywood.com: Aren’t you worried about breeding your own competition?
John Rzeznik:
Fine, fine, fine. I’m hoping for it. I hope somebody comes out there and just destroys my band. It’s fine.

HW: What makes this show different from American Idol?
JR:
Well, it is a lot like American Idol in a way because it’s the same basic format and formula for working the show. The big difference is that people are going to see real bands that all hang out together and play together in their hometowns. They just come out here and it’s kind of a showcase. Somebody’s going to win. They’re going to have to make an album. It’s going to have to be good. They’re going to have to go out on the road and get their asses kicked like the rest of us. It’s probably going to be twice as hard for them because they did get a running start. That’s what I was saying to some of the bands. I was like, “You’ve got to be twice as good as everybody else.” People are expecting them to be some manufactured pop artist but they’re not.

HW: Can you pick out any early front runners?
JR:
It’s hard to tell. Everybody’s really, really good in their own way. Everyone works really hard. It’s really hard because I don’t like saying no to anybody. There’s a lot of people I really enjoy.

HW: How do you feel about judging other artists?
JR:
A little uncomfortable, but I’m really just there giving my opinion on what’s going on. I’m trying to be as constructive and positive with them as possible. I just keep thinking to myself I want to handle these people the way I wish I had been handled, because I’ve had my ass handed to me 5,000 different ways by people that don’t get me. So it’s like I’ve been in a band for 20 years, I’ve produced a couple of albums, I’ve written a bunch of songs. I just want to help them get better if they can. I’m not going to bash anybody. I’m not going to bash anybody for doing what they do.

HW: If this show had been around 20 years ago, would you have done it?
JR:
I don’t know. It depends. If I’d been working really hard trying to get a break and wasn’t getting anywhere, sure. I set my own personal deadline for myself as far as [if I don’t make it in music], I’m going to go finish college and get a real job, a real life. I think I would have done it. Yeah, why not? It’s like a battle of the bands.

HW: Is a talent show like this really a good way to discover new artists?
JR:
I think it’s a natural response in the way the world is right now. The modern world of the future I keep calling it, where you have internet and 5,000 television channels and movies on demand and video games and all these distractions. First thing I want to make clear is all these bands are real bands. They’re all out doing gigs. They’re all out paying their dues already. They’re just looking for a break. I think it’s a very democratic sort of process. I can say whatever I want about somebody and the public’s going to vote. The public’s going to decide what they want and it’s not a manufactured artist. They came as they were and got selected.

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HW: Sometimes, the competition is more about who can sound the most like everybody else. Can a band succeed if they bring out a totally new sound?
JR:
That’s a really good point. I think that if artists were allowed more development from their record labels that you would actually see a lot more music progress into its own style. I listen to a lot of bands and I think, “Wow, if they get to do two or three more albums, they’ll find their own voice.” We were lucky enough that we just kept going and going and going and then we found our own voice. We found our own thing to do. Now people say we sound like us. I actually was criticized by a music critic in a magazine that said, “It sounds too much like The Goo Goo Dolls.” Well, what am I supposed to sound like? I spent all this time trying to build my own scene and now you want me to rip it down just to please you? Forget it

HW: What’s going on with your own music?
JR:
We just finished an 18-month tour for Let Love In. That’s done. We’re putting out a greatest hits package which is 14 top 10 songs that we’ve had over the past 12 years I guess. Then we’re building a recording studio back in our home town of Buffalo because there’s never been a real recording studio there. Then I’m going to spend winter back in Buffalo, sort of locked up in this beautiful old chapel. It’s like a 160-year-old chapel and I’m just going to write and play guitar and just really enjoy doing music on my own terms.

HW: Can you still sell a greatest hits package now that people can just make their own playlists with iTunes?
JR:
I don’t know, I’ve never tried to. I’ll let you know. Check back with me in six months and then we’ll find out if it works.

HW: Are the Goo Goo Dolls still considered alternative?
JR:
No, not any more. Alternative back when we were coming up as a young band, there was no alternative radio format. We got played on college radio. We played in college bars and tiny little clubs. Things like that. We came up through college radio the same way that bands like Soul Asylum and REM and The Cure, Depeche Mode, a lot of these bands that made it into or got signed to major labels through being played on college radio and developing a following out on the road.

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