For John Rzeznik, singer and guitarist for the Buffalo, N.Y.-bred Goo Goo Dolls, rock 'n' roll has always been more about evolution than revolution.
The band, which started in the mid-'80s wanting, in Rzeznik's words, to "... be the Replacements and Husker Du" has, over nearly 25 years, evolved from scruffy punks to polished product to working rock band. It's that last, and most current, incarnation that Rzeznik likes most.
"It's really liberating," he said in a telephone interview promoting the band's headlining appearance Tuesday at the Rock Fore! Dough benefit concert at First Tee of Augusta. "It's not about chasing hits. We've moved beyond that, moved beyond trying to emulate our influences. We feel very fortunate, very fortunate that we are still able to make a living going out and playing music."
The band is working on a new album, moving forward in the way it always has. There will be new songs to sing and, if the band is fortunate, hits to enjoy.
Rzeznik likes looking ahead. He also understands that the past is important. He admitted that there was a time when certain songs had lost luster. He no longer enjoyed singing them. He said Rob Cavallo, the producer who worked with the band on several of its hits, said the secret to moving forward with a song is looking back.
"He told me to put myself back into that emotional place I was in when I wrote it, Rzeznik said. "It made a lot of sense and it has worked. That's good, because if someone pays to see me, I do have that obligation. You have to play the things an audience wants to hear. You have to move beyond ego."
Rzeznik said one of the biggest changes in his relationship to music is how his place in the hierarchy has shifted. When the band was tearing through tunes such as We Are the Normal in the late 1980s, he was very much a product of his musical influences. Today, he finds himself in the role of influence, sometimes playing on bills with young acts that count his band as an early inspiration.
"That is strange," he said. "I mean, we were always being compared to other bands and now people cite us. It feels good. I'm certainly not bitter about it. I don't feel like people are ripping us off."
Listening to other acts experiment with the sounds and structures that are part of Goo Goo Dolls history is interesting, he said, because it has so little relation to what he does as a songwriter and musician today. Although he had considerable success with songs such as Iris and Name , he said he can't imagine writing that music today.
"I just wouldn't feel comfortable writing the songs I wrote 10 years ago," he said.