Heads up, rock reality-show fans: We’ll be back Monday with our first report on the already controversial American Idol spinoff The Next Great American Band. In anticipation of tonight’s anticipated series premiere, we checked in with one of the judges, Goo Goo Doll John Rzeznik, who had an answer for anyone who thinks a reality show is a crappy way to discover talent. “I don’t think anybody formed a band to get on the show, and if they did they were eliminated,” he said. “You know these bands are real bands — they play out in their neck of the woods, they’re all doing gigs and practicing in the garage together. It’s like a showcase, everybody wants a record deal.” Rzeznik confirmed the show’s prize is “a record deal, some commotion and all that” and insisted the series is a great vehicle for artists in an age of record-industry decline. “Record companies don’t have the money to promote bands the way something like this could,” he added.
While he insisted he won’t become a Simon Cowell (or Paula Abdul)-like figure on the show — his co-judges include Sheila E. and Australian Idol‘s Ian “Dicko” Dickson — Rzeznik told Us Weekly that he wants to offer constructive criticism: “I’ve had my ass handed to me by critics a lot and you got to get tough about it … [but] I’m not a turd polisher, unfortunately.” When asked about nutty auditions, he replied, “My definition of crazy is probably different than yours, but you’re not going to see anybody like the kid that really couldn’t sing [on American Idol] that everybody votes for.” Sorry, Sanjaya! Looks like Rzeznik isn’t a gimmick guy. We wondered if anyone tried cartwheels or worse to get his attention during auditions and he waved it off with, “That don’t work on me — don’t pull that crap!” Sounds like John wants audiences to take this show seriously … we’ll see if that’s possible in just a few hours.