“Take a leap of faith and try to make it happen,” Goo Goo Dolls front-man John Rzeznik declares about the band’s desire to find innovative ways to perform for their fans quarantining and isolating throughout 2020. It was that leap of faith that eventually resulted in their live holiday musical special “It’s Christmas All Over.”
“It was really a lot of fun. There’s some parts of it that are kind of cheeky, but I guess you’d say hopefully the tongue is firmly planted in the cheek, and what I loved about it was that it hearkens back to a lot of the old Christmas specials that we saw when we were little kids,” he says. Watch our exclusive video interview with Rzeznik and original Goo Goo Dolls collaborator Robby Takac above.
“It’s Christmas All Over” is billed as the first-ever augmented-reality movie musical, created and presented by the online live streaming platform FanTracks president Barry Summers, featuring the multi-platinum, four-time Grammy-nominated Goo Goo Dolls.
Like most performing artists last year, after tour plans were scrapped due to the pandemic, the band spent much of early 2020 writing and recording music for their late-2020 holiday release “It’s Christmas All Over,” which was born out of a desire to revisit traditional holiday classics through the band’s recognizable sound. The album boasts a diverse collection of songs that capture the warmth and spirit of classic Christmas music, packed with iconic tracks such as “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” “Let It Snow” and the band’s new original “This Is Christmas.”
The hour-long special was then created to accompany the album’s release. It features the band performing tracks from the album live on-screen, transporting viewers through an augmented-reality virtual world of wintry city streets and subways to a 1940s speakeasy and the classic set of The Ed Sullivan Show. It has been a huge success for FanTracks, which was founded in May last year in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to enable fans to engage with and experience live music, while also gaining access to their favorite artists in a more personal (and safer) way through an augmented reality that included interactive elements like webcam Q&As.
“The world was in augmented reality at that time,” Takac smiles when recalling when the band was first introduced to the concept. “So I guess it didn’t seem all that strange really because everything was so weird we hadn’t seen people in a really long time, and certainly hadn’t been in a room with 60 people putting together a huge production. So even behind the scenes, there was something kind of special that was happening at the time, and I think it really made its way onto the screen as well.”
Notwithstanding their long list of chart-topping records, the Goo Goo Dolls will most likely be forever best known for their 1998 mega-hit single “Iris”, which was nominated for three Grammy Awards. That song spent nearly 12 consecutive months on the Billboard charts, and held the number one position on the Hot 100 Airplay chart for a staggering 18 weeks.
“I don’t know why it struck such a nerve, but I am very grateful that it did, because it helped launch the rest of our career,” Rzeznik says. “It has certainly cast a very long shadow, but I didn’t realize that it would have had the staying power and the kind of cultural impact that it did.”
The band are now looking forward to the debut on June 25 of their new compilation album “Rarities,” a retrospective collection of 20 songs (b-sides, live songs, radio performances, international releases and additional non-album tracks) that span the band’s most prolific period from 1995 to 2007.
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