Recently at the FOX Fall Press Junket in Los Angeles this TV Addict had the opportunity to sit down with GOO GOO DOLLS front-man John Rzeznik. Where we talked about everything from the current state of the music industry, recording the theme song to NBC’s short-lived GOOD MORNING MIAMI and of course, what it’s like being a judge on THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND. Or as I like to call it, AMERICAN IDOL: BAND EDITION.
The TV Addict: In this day and age, it seems awfully hard for bands to make it big anymore. What advice do you have for bands wishing to make a career out of music?
John Rzeznik: My advice is the same as it’s always been. Don’t try and be like anybody else.
When you start learning to play, it’s inevitable that you’ll sound like your influences. But eventually you have to grow beyond that and I think with enough time and practice you can do that.
The way the recording industry works today, there’s not a lot of time or focus on artist development. Bands no longer get the chance to make 3 or 4 records before they hit it big. You either produce a hit or you’re gone. Which is unfortunate, because the way things work now, it doesn’t do much to progress music as an actual art form. It’s become such a commodity, with corporations controlling everything.
On the flip side, you now have all this real underground indie music. But a lot of it just turns out to be noise, because indie bands are trying so hard to be anti-establishment.
When my band [THE GOO GOO DOLLS] was coming you, you started out on college radio. They were sort of the minor leagues. Now it’s all about YouTube and MySpace. Those are the new places where you go to gain exposure and notoriety.
You worked incredibly hard to make it ‘big’. Isn’t THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND cheating? You’ll essentially me making the career of a new band within a few episodes.
You know what, that’s why I was initially apprehensive about doing this. But the thing is, all these bands are real. Real bans, real people, from all over the country. Some of these bands have been together for years and they’re really just trying to get their show. So why not? It’s a natural response to the modern world of the future. Pretty much a televised battle of the bands.
Were you impressed by the audition process?
By the 12 finalists yeah. They cover a real wide variety of music. We’ve got rock bands, big bands, bluegrass, country, lots of stuff. Each band is really good at what they do. The thing I dig about this is that it’s a democratic process. We’re not taking some cute sixteen year old girl, pairing her with a bunch of hot song writers and placing her and grooming her into a mold… a ridiculous caricature. That’s not what this is about. We’re showing America the real deal. These are real bands.
This being a competition, bands are undoubtedly going to have to switch genres. What are your thoughts on that?
That part of it is difficult for me to understand. But you know, I’m really just giving my opinion about the bands on the show. I don’t know if I want to be the “judge”. I don’t want to damn anyone to hell because their hair doesn’t look right. Who cares.
I care about the music, the song-writing and whether they’re a real band. I think the world needs to hear real bands again because they’ve been spoon-fed a lot of manufactured artists for too long.
Readers may be surprised to learn that you did the score for Disney’s Animated film TREASURE PLANET and the theme song to GOOD MORNING MIAMI. Why choose such offbeat projects?
I love to mess around with song-writing, its what I do. I think it’s interesting to take these little projects that are so outside what I normally do with my band. I take an afternoon, read a script… it’s fun to write music when the subject matter is right in front of you. And of course it’s nice to pick up a couple bucks on the side.
Final question. Being a huge Mac fanboy, I can’t let you go without asking you about Apple. Do you think they have to much power in the music industry?
Apple is a cutthroat monolith and I think it would be good for the industry if they made their technology available to everyone. Unfortunately, we live in the world of capitalism, where greed is rewarded for and there’s no sense of fair-play.
THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND premieres on FOX at 8PM tonight.