Goo Goo Dolls Singer Johnny Rzeznik Celebrates Getting Sober

Goo Goo Dolls Singer Johnny Rzeznik Celebrates Getting Sober

By David Konow 11/22/16

“My father was a brutal alcoholic, just crazy. I thought that was my destiny as well. I finally got slapped in the head hard enough to go get help.”

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Goo Goo Dolls Singer Johnny Rzeznik Celebrates Getting Sober

Even with all the changes in the music business and the musical landscape over the last 30 years, the Goo Goo Dolls are still going strong. Formed in 1986 by John Rzeznik in Buffalo, New York, the band was one of alternative music’s best kept secrets before they finally broke through to mainstream success in 1995 with their fifth album, A Boy Named Goo, a double platinum hit that featured the smash hit single "Name."

The band wasn’t a one hit wonder. The platinum-selling albums and tours kept coming, but Rzeznik suffered from burnout after relentless touring, a bout with writer's block, and drinking.

Rzeznik is now celebrating two years of sobriety. He recently spoke to the Press of Atlantic City about how getting clean has impacted his music and life.

“I’m not a miserable prick to everyone anymore,” Rzeznik said. “That’s a good thing. I wake up in the morning and actually feel hope in my heart and I look forward to getting through my day, which was not the case.”

Like many who’ve struggled with addiction, alcoholism ran in Rzeznik’s family. “I was wearing my father’s clothes,” he continued. “My father was a brutal alcoholic, just crazy. I thought that was my destiny as well. I finally got slapped in the head hard enough to go get help.”

Rzeznik’s sobriety would of course also have an effect on his music. He told CNN that when he quit drinking, it “lightened up my perspective on the world quite a bit.” Before cleaning up, the Goo Goo Dolls released an album Something For the Rest of Us in 2010, that Rzeznik called “kind of a bummer. But the only way out is to go through, so that was going through.”

Rzeznik had made previous attempts at sobriety, as he told the Huffington Post, “About three months into getting sober for the 50th time, I realized that I had no coping skills because every time I felt something that was uncomfortable, I would just drown it. So sitting there were all these immature, childish, out-of-control emotions and needs that have never been really addressed or taken care of and put aside so that I could actually grow up.”

The band’s recent single "So Alive," released this year, reflects this because, as Rzeznik continues, “Being alive is painful. Feeling things is painful.”

Rzeznik, who is currently expecting a child with his wife Melina Gallo, told the Post that one way he’s remained sober is by calling friends and asking them to run down what he calls his “greatest hits,” or “an unbelievable list of ridiculous shit I did when I was drinking and don’t remember. And I’ll be like, ‘All right, that’s cool. I don’t ever want to have another drink again.’” 

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In addition to contributing for The Fix, David Konow has also written for Esquire, Deadline, LA Weekly, Village Voice, The Wrap, and many other publications and websites. He is also the author of the three decade history of heavy metal, Bang Your Head (Three Rivers Press), and the horror film history Reel Terror (St Martins Press). Find David on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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