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John Rzeznik on the Goo Goo Dolls' latest album 'Chaos in Bloom'

AYESHA RASCOE, HOST:

Goo Goo Dolls are back and ready to rock.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YEAH, I LIKE YOU")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) I met the queen of generation fame. I said, I'm sorry, I don't know your name. And she stared at me...

RASCOE: Since 1986, Goo Goo Dolls have released 13 albums, sold 15 million records, and earned four Grammy nominations. John Rzeznik is the frontman and guitarist of Goo Goo Dolls and joins us now to talk about the band's newest album, called "Chaos In Bloom." Welcome.

JOHN RZEZNIK: Hi. Nice to be here.

RASCOE: So "Chaos In Bloom" - I mean, obviously, that's a very fitting title for everything going on in the world right now - pandemic, war, economic turmoil. Were these the things that were kind of on your mind when you made this album?

RZEZNIK: We were all sort of living in this kind of fever dream, it seemed, of the pandemic and, you know, the political and social unrest that was going on in the country at the time. And yeah, it was weighing heavily on me and a lot of other musicians and artists. I kind of chose to sort of look straight at what was going on out there and kind of try to encapsulate my interpretation of it. It just felt so insane, and it was anxious. We didn't know if we were ever going to get to play live again. Nobody had any idea what the future held. So it was kind of unsettling, but it was inspiring at the same time.

RASCOE: Well, a lot of the songs on the album - they seem to deal with relationships, people, connections. And also, it seems like some of it's about, like, loneliness. Like, I want to play a bit of the song "Save Me From Myself."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE ME FROM MYSELF")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) Feeling like the world has turned to stone, standing in a crowd, but I'm on my own. Wake up on the floor with a dizzy head again...

RASCOE: What's the story behind this song? I mean, I'm sure a lot of people during the pandemic might have felt, like, I want to be saved from myself. They got tired of themselves.

RZEZNIK: That song was sort of about doing what I call a geographical where it's like - you decide, I have an enormous amount of problems and I've burnt every bridge that I can in this town, so I'm out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE ME FROM MYSELF")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) Memories will chase you down, catch you in another town...

RZEZNIK: Nothing ever gets solved because your problems travel with you wherever you go. That song kind of had its roots in the time that I was getting divorced from my first wife and just sort of feeling like, I have to leave to get this relationship out of my system. What I learned from that song and that experience is that it's best to just hold your ground. Work it out. Everything is between your ears - goes with you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVE ME FROM MYSELF")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) Save me from myself.

RASCOE: You know, you have this song "Let The Sun." It's a bit sorrowful, you know?

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET THE SUN")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) Cruel man, don't look down, down on me 'cause you don't see...

RASCOE: You talk about the mean man, the cruel man. Is that, you know, capitalism? Is that the government? Who is the mean man talked about in this song?

RZEZNIK: It's pretty obvious who and what I'm singing about. It's about the inequality that exists in this country and just how over the past few years, I just feel like we've become so cruel to our own people. We were working in Los Angeles in a recording studio on Sunset Boulevard and opened up the front door, and boom, there was a massive protest going on right outside, right there. We, like, walked into it. It was really powerful to feel the conviction of these thousands of people. And it really felt like something was going to change. Like, it really felt like something was going to change. And I think this inequality - it's un-American.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET THE SUN")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) 'Cause you'll never let this go, and it's time to let you know, please go away...

RASCOE: One of the last songs on your album, it is a song that is hopeful and uplifting because it's focusing on the individual.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU ARE THE ANSWER")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) Close your eyes, realize some hearts can't be sewn. Your only crime is being alive. You know you're not alone. You are the answer you've been looking for...

RASCOE: Are you saying that we are the answer to, you know, go out and make change?

RZEZNIK: I mean, every change starts from inside. Looking outside for change is never going to work. You can't look outside of yourself for change. It has to come from within. You know, the politics in this country are - I mean, we're driving the division deeper and deeper and deeper. Jeez. And I think we have to really start believing in each other and respecting each other again.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU ARE THE ANSWER")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) You're gold. You're gold...

RASCOE: Jon Rzeznik, frontman and guitarist of Goo Goo Dolls. Thank you so much for joining us.

RZEZNIK: Thanks for having me.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOU ARE THE ANSWER")

GOO GOO DOLLS: (Singing) She said it's never been sane. Here we are, you and me, tryna make the changes. And I believe I can see a better time... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ayesha Rascoe is a White House correspondent for NPR. She is currently covering her third presidential administration. Rascoe's White House coverage has included a number of high profile foreign trips, including President Trump's 2019 summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi, Vietnam, and President Obama's final NATO summit in Warsaw, Poland in 2016. As a part of the White House team, she's also a regular on the NPR Politics Podcast.