Goo Goos Go to School

Veteran rockers hitting the studio, bassist hitting the classroom

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The Goo Goo Dolls are entering a Los Angeles studio to record their ninth album with producer Glen Ballard (Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band). The as-yet-untitled effort was written over the last eight months in a Freemasons hall the Dolls rented in their native Buffalo.

This album will mark the twentieth anniversary of the band -- frontman/guitarist Johnny Rzeznik, bassist Robby Takac and drummer Mike Malinin, who replaced halfway through the band's tenure -- as well as an energetic departure from 2002's Gutterflower. "The decision we made after touring on our last record was to do something that would be a significant jump," says Takac. "Some of the optimism that was gone last time has come back, and, as we've started work on the songs, it feels like we're doing something new and different."

Takac will also getting ready to spread optimism in the classroom, preparing for the fall launch of his Music Is Art High School Awareness Tour. Founded in Buffalo a little over a year ago -- and recently expanded into Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey -- the program is aimed at educating young people about careers in music. Takac brings guest speakers, from musicians to music attorneys, and rounds out the experience with performances by bands like punk-pop trio the Juliet Dagger and emo rockers Last Conservative, from his own Good Charamel Records.

"What we do is bring this rock show and a film that say, 'You've got to take responsibility for everything you do in your life, and these conventional channels that everyone expects you to go through aren't the be-all and end-all,'" Takac says. "'You need to find your path and do something good.'"

The bassist sees this outreach as crucial because of the lack of emphasis on -- and financial backing for -- the arts in the U.S. "Because there are holes in the streets and there are wars being fought, the first funding to go is for the arts programs," he says. "A lot of it is about a need for sponsorship, and involvement in the school districts. We're meeting with the New York State Board of Education. I think we have a cool thing going on now."

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