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The Goo Goo Dolls with Autumns Cannon
Mon, Mar 3
Enmax Center - Lethbridge


Time: 8 p.m.

Tickets: $50-$70

 The Goo Goo Dolls

After more than two decades as a band, with nine albums, a catalog of songs that have become ingrained in the pop consciousness and countless concerts for millions of fans, the Goo Goo Dolls are feeling particularly good about their new album: Magnetic.

More to the point, the Goo Goo Dolls are feeling particularly good. Period.

“This album was really upbeat and fun,” says John Rzeznik, the trio’s primary singer, songwriter and guitarist since it was founded in Buffalo in 1986. “I don’t think we’ve made a record like this in a while. Just had a great time doing it.”

It’s a great time overall for the musicians. Bassist Robby Takac, whose partnership with Rzeznik has been the band’s foundation since the start, and his wife have just had their first child. And Rzeznik is getting married this summer.

Not to mention that recently three of the band’s songs placed in Billboard’s Top 100 of 1992-2012, with “Iris” standing at No. 1. That song has also connected with a new generation, as Dolls fan Taylor Swift has been performing it in her concerts.

That joy is all there in the spirit of the 11 new songs on the album, for which Rzeznik, Takac and drummer Mike Malinin — the lineup steady since 1995 — recorded in New York, London and Los Angeles with Gregg Wattenberg (Train), Rob Cavallo (Green Day), John Shanks (Bon Jovi) and Greg Wells (Katy Perry). From the celebratory single “Rebel Beat” to the love-rediscovery ballad “Slow It Down,” from the blue-collar anthem “Keep the Car Running” to the meltingly romantic “Come to Me,” Magnetic is an album bursting with a spirit of renewal. And nowhere is it more explicit than in one of two Takac-penned songs: “Happiest of Days.”

“All the writing is an extension of ourselves,” Rzeznik says. “My life’s amazing. When I sit and think about my life, it really has been incredible.”

No argument from Takac.

“It’s pretty amazing to me,” he says. “All these years now we’ve been playing in this band together and we still somehow manage to grow. That allows us to keep making it happen. We never denied what the situation was at the moment. Right now we’re here and living this moment, and some cool things are happening in our lives.”

It’s a contrast from the poetically introspective tone of 2010’s Something For the Rest of Us, which reflected some personal turmoil.

“This album feels like this is where we came out the other side and are in the daylight again,” he says. “Got a little dark on the last record. But that was something I needed to do, where I was at. This is where I am now. Yeah, you know — I got myself up, brushed myself off and looked around, and things were fine. Why not celebrate?”

Even a dark-sounding title, such as “When The World Breaks Your Heart,” reveals a world of happiness.

“That’s a song about friendship,” he says. “Real friendship. About when you find out who the people are who really care about you and love you, like on moving day, or times of need.”

With that in mind, the making of the album represented a break from past methods too. Rzeznik first worked with those collaborators on writing and pre-production of the songs.

“I approached it a lot differently this time,” Rzeznik says. “Rather than writing a whole bunch of songs and then going into the studio and recording them and seeing if it worked, as we’d done before, I would write a song, make a demo, then Robby and Mike came in and we played it. Wound up being much quicker. And I did some co-writing with Gregg Wattenberg and John Shanks, tried to let go of the outcome.”

Inspiration came from many sources.

“A lot of it got cut in a recording studio that sits 12 floors above Times Square, full of windows,” he says. “You’re at the cultural epicenter of Western civilization. It was unbelievably stimulating. In a lot of ways this is a real New York record.”

Opening song “Rebel Beat,” co-written by Rzeznik with Wattenberg, sets that tone, growing out of a summer stroll the singer took in Lower Manhattan, coming across an Italian neighborhood street party. “Everyone was having a great time, little kids, old people — and the smell of everything, and it was so hot. I just wanted to be part of it so bad!”

Such scenes are evoked throughout, the music carrying the spirit as much as the lyrics. For “More of You,” Shanks and Rzeznik experimented, subtly, with electronics, the anthemic sound portraying a resolute pursuit of love. The two painted the “complications” of relationships with equal flair with the elated-yet-tumultuous sound of “Caught in the Storm.” Takac brings another rock twist to “Bringing On the Light,” with piano and organ giving a feel that he says is in part inspired by the great English band Badfinger.

And for “Bulletproof Angel,” a soaring ballad co-written by Rzeznik and long-time friend Andy Stochansky, producer Greg Wells brought in orchestrator Joel McNeely for a full strings arrangement, the latter recorded at London’s legendary Abbey Road.

At the core throughout is the Goo Goo Dolls’ blue-collar Buffalo origins, the same energy that fueled the group when if first garnered buzz on the local, then regional and then national club scenes. Nowhere is it more explicit than on “Keep the Car Running,” a song about the disillusionment of youth, about wanting to escape, but also an earnest love-letter to home.

“Buffalo had its own unique sound,” Rzeznik says. “I think we definitely retain that. When I pick up an acoustic guitar and start singing, it’s me. We can’t be anybody else. I like what I sing. We like what we write. And if we don’t like it, we don’t play it.”



Autumns Cannons

Sometimes you have to get lost to truly find yourself, and you can certainly make that case with Autumns Cannon singer-guitarist Shaun Francisco. Following the passing of his mother back in 2009, the musician uprooted himself from his hometown of Maple Ridge, BC, and headed further east to a friend’s house in Ottawa to start a new beginning. The game-changing decision set Francisco on the path towards finding his bandmates in Autumns Cannon, and ultimately to find himself through song. Now, after a near four-year journey, the act’s debut album Open Letter is set to be released through 604 Records in 2013.

The melodic rock unit’s foundations were laid in the basement of Francisco’s adopted home, but he soon found a kindred spirit in drummer Mike Hogg. The two met while working at a local music store. It was during work hours when Francisco revealed early compositions like “Lonely Streets,” one of Open Letter’s many heartfelt highlights. From there, the two assembled what was to become Autumns Cannon.

“It’s the first song that we played together,” Hogg confirms of the cut. “If you go back to the first thing that we recorded, ‘Lonely Streets’ was one of those tunes.”

Francisco adds that the song is one of his most personal, and deals directly with the whirlwind of emotions he felt after losing his mother, and landing in Ottawa. The composition of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen inspired guitar and vocal melodies is also driven by the bands distortion-driven alt-country. Initially we see themes of hopelessness and despair, but then turns into the powerful message of redemption, fully encapsulated with Francisco’s passionate cry of “Come and heal my soul.”

“At times I’ve felt extremely lonely and uncertain, leaving and uprooting myself from the place I grew up in,” the frontman says thoughtfully about the trying time period chronicled in “Lonely Streets.” “That song signified me expressing the emotion of digging deep and persevering. Lyrically, it was all there. It was my story.”

This is just the beginning of Autumns Cannon’s journey. Over the last few years, the act—which also includes guitarist Nick Beaton, bassist Mark Laforest, and keyboardist-guitarist Marty Sobb— has further refined their music, writing in excess of 30 songs for Open Letter. Working at the Bathouse Studio just off of Lake Ontario, as well as Signal Path Studio in Almonte, Ontario, producers Gord Sinclair of the Tragically Hip, and Steve Bays of Hot Hot Heat, helped the unit trim down the collection to a tidy ten.

While cuts like “Lonely Streets” have travelled with the band since day one, the first single and title track “Open Letter” was one of four tunes on the album written spontaneously in the studio. The energetic pop-rock number juices up the tempo, and slides in some extra-crunchy riff work before Francisco lets into a tale of two souls unable to express themselves properly in person.

“That song is about a breakdown in communication. It expresses the frustration where two people want to close the distance between one another, but have lost themselves in a fight that keeps them a part” he says of the single. “The thing that keeps them fighting for one another are the memories flashing in their thoughts in the midst of their breakdown.”

The emotional palette on Open Letter is wide, though, with the band shedding just as much light on the good times as the bad. Lovelorn but hopeful ballad “Wrecking Ball” is laced with tender piano plunks and acoustic six-string strums, while the heart-tugging, steady drive of the gospel organ in “Bury the Guns” asks for peace, unity and understanding in these trying times. Elsewhere, Autumns Cannon question material things, and the hard pace of the working man on the jangly rocker“ Let the Money Run Dry,” and completely cut loose on “Shake It Off,” a fist-pumping anthem that will have the 9-to-5 folk set fire to their neckties in no time.

“Mainly, the message that seems to come out of every song is that ‘I’m not going to quit. I won’t give up. I’m going to persevere,’” Francisco states confidently. “We’re going to find hope again.”

It may have taken Autumns Cannon a few years to find their way, but the group is sure to stick around for a number of years to come.

Shaun Francisco – Vocals, Guitar
Nick Beaton – Guitar
Mark Laforest – Bass
Marty Sobb – Keys, Guitar
Mike Hogg – Drums


Enmax Center   -   Website
2510 Scenic Dr S
T1K 1N2
Country: ca


(403) 320-4040

The City of Lethbridge ENMAX Centre was built as a lasting legacy of the 1975 Canada Winter Games.

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