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Since their breakout hit "Name" in 1995, the platinum selling Goo Goo Dolls have continued to dominate the mainstream rock and pop charts with albums such as the smash "Dizzy up the Girl," and the more recent "Gutterflower."
Following the success of his own band, bassist Robby Takac has decided to launch his own label, Good Charamel records. The rock star turned record mogul went to his home town of Buffalo, New York to find great talent, and says he's found it in the three bands that have signed on to his label: Klear, The Juliet Dagger, and Last Conservative.
Takac talks to us about finding talent, the digital revolution, how to handle being on top, and what's next for his own band.
JB) The first thing I want to talk about is your new record label, Good Charamel Records. My first question is, have you always wanted to have your own label, or was this an idea you had recently?
RT) Well, I haven't quite always wanted to have my own label, but I know that I have always been involved in music. I produce bands and you know with the current climate in the music industry it felt like, you know, with the digital age, and Sony's got good ideas in some laptops, and I have the same thing so it just seemed like something that was naturally easy to do and I just sort of fell into it, so I'm enjoying it a lot.
JB) Do you think your love of music plays a part in that to?
RT) Absolutely, as a matter of fact I think at this point it's the only thing that's keeping me doing this (laughs). You know I'm really excited about working with some groups aside from my own. You know I've been doing this for 20 years now, so it's really interesting to be working with those groups. Its really sort of made me appreciate the situation I'm in with my band, and sort of opened my eyes to a lot of what I may have not experienced in a long time, you know, the whole coming up thing.
JB) So, how did you find the bands that you have signed to your label?
RT) I opened a recording studio in buffalo, I was here a lot, you know I grew up in buffalo. So I decided to open up a studio back home, and I was here an awful lot, and I saw an awful lot of bands, and there were just great, great groups playing here. So I started to record, to do downloads and things with them, and I ended up choosing the three [bands] that I chose.
JB) I heard some of their work on the Good Charamel website, and they're really good. Would you say you just have a good ear because you've been in the business for so long?
RT) I don't know, I mean they're great bands, and they're all very different from each other. I really made sure that when I picked a few groups, they weren't gonna compete with each other at all within my roster. At the same time they can all sort of play together cuz they're all really great songwriters.
JB) What is it about a band that really attracts you and makes you say hey; we really need to sign these guys?
RT) When you go see any group play, and I'm sure you get this feeling too, there's bands you see and you go, eh, they're a good band, and then there's bands you see and you go wow, that was really something cool. A lot of it has to do with how the crowd is interacting; a lot of it has to do with how well they play together. More importantly for me, it's about the songs, man. If a band has songs that I enjoy, and that spark when I see them, I know that I could go in and work on a record, and enjoy working on that record. These are not money gigs for me. Its not like somebody came to me and said, here we'll give you $80,000 to do this record, and its some band that I could really give a shit about. These are bands that I like, for me these are fun records to do, and I spend a lot of time on them. I chose them because I enjoyed them, and I assume other people may as well.
JB) So, how are the records being promoted? Are they going to do a lot of touring, or heavy radio airplay, how is that gonna work?
RT) Well, right now we're working two of the bands, Klear and Last Conservative, into college radio, and alternative specialty radio. Klear we're working into mainstream rock radio. We have a publicist, and we're gonna go out and try to do it the old fashioned way. You know, we're not gonna go and spend a billion dollars trying to buy ads and play the chart game. I don't think that really matters anymore. What I think does sort of matter right now is that you got a band that's out there wanting to work, wanting to play, wanting to tour. Understanding the importance of the Internet, and how the modern structure of distributing music is gonna work. I think we've got a pretty good jump on that whole thing.
JB) Will you guys use the internet a lot to distribute, as far a having the music available for download?
RT) I just think the Internet is an actual community of people. There's no arguing, you know whenever I need to know anything I'm sitting in front of my computer. You must embrace that, and you must understand that a lot of what happens as far as people making decisions go is based on what they see and hear on the web. I think radio is becoming less and less important now, and I think people are being severely influenced by taste making sites, rather than magazines.
JB) Do you see any of these bands making it as big as the Goo Goo Dolls has?
RT) Who knows, you know? Life is such a freakish thing as far as that sort of thing goes, I mean ya, there are a couple of bands every year that get lucky. I've been doing this my entire adult life, and I will say, and I know John [Rzeznik] will say it right along with me, that yes we worked really hard, but we were very lucky. Do I think they could be as big as our band? I think given the right circumstances, absolutely, but who knows.
JB) Being a part of a successful group yourself, if any of these groups were to really hit it big, what kind of wisdom would you pass on?
RT) I guess for me the equations' always been just keep your feet on the ground man. Make sure you don't forget who you are, cuz you're gonna be that guy again someday. After doing this for as long as we have, we've seen a lot of people come up and down. Some folks don't take it so well on the way down. I think if you keep in your mind that fame or popular music success is more often than not a fleeting thing, then you wont be some sort of tour hungry tyrannical weirdo, like a lot of people become when they get successful.
JB) I do want to talk about the Goo Goo Dolls a little bit, what do you guys have coming up?
RT) Well, we just finished a DVD, which is gonna be coming out for Christmas. We shot it here in Buffalo on July 4th during a torrential, biblical proportioned rainstorm. It's pretty unbelievable, I'll tell you. That's gonna be coming out in late October for Christmas. We also have a single, we did a cover of Supertramps "Give a Little Bit," and that's gonna be a single that is released in the DVD package, and that's gonna be going out to radio very soon. After that we start on the new record, I believe on Nov 1.
JB) And you guys have been touring a little bit?
RT) ya, a little bit of stuff, just a gig here and there. We're playing new years at a casino out in the middle of nowhere in Southern California, so that should be a lot of fun.
JB) Any particular reason why you guys like to play on New Years? It seems like every New Years you guys are doing something.
RT) Ya, we play every New Years somewhere, we really enjoy doing that. New Years for me is like a weird night, because for the past 20 years I've worked every New Years. We didn't work I think 3 new years ago, and I remember it was like 10 to 12 and my wife and I were sitting on the floor of the kitchen, and I'm like "I think this is supposed to be more exciting right now." I didn't know what to do, you know? Usually I'm counting down in front of a bunch of people
JB) Is it surreal for you to have such a huge fan base, or even fans that are really hard-core, because you seem like a really down to earth guy.
RT) I mean its cool, you know. Obviously it prevents me from having a real job, I haven't done that for years, I think that's a cool thing. Ninety eight percent of the time people are really groovy, you know they're really nice and they just wanna say thanks and maybe get you to sign something because they appreciate you. I appreciate that, you know, but two percent of the time, yeah there's wierdos. I hate to dwell on it, but ya it does happen. In general I say thank you and keep buying my records so I don't have to apply at Wal Mart someday!