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Goo Goo Dolls singer talks new album, ahead of Black-Eyed Susan Day concert

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John Rzeznik, lead singer of the Goo Goo Dolls, should know a thing or two about wedding songs. He wrote the inescapable hit "Iris" in 1998, which plenty of newly married couples have played for their first dance, including, most famously, singer Avril Lavigne in 2006.

And yet, for his own upcoming wedding in July, Rzeznik has no clue what song he and his fiance, Melina Gallo, will dance to.

"I'm just happy that I'm getting married. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm still a guy," Rzeznik said from his Los Angeles home recently. "I still feel like it's more her wedding than mine."

It's hard to blame Rzeznik for not focusing on wedding details. Besides headlining the Black-Eyed Susan Day Concert at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, Rzeznik and the Goo Goo Dolls have been preparing to release their first new album in nearly three years, "Magnetic," due June 11.

The album's first single, "Rebel Beat," is a shiny, upbeat production that would sound at home on a Top 40 playlist today. It sounds nothing like the Goo Goo Dolls' biggest hits of the 1990s ("Slide," "Black Balloon" to name a couple), which was part of Rzeznik's aim as a songwriter.

"I'm not trying to chase a radio hit, but at a certain time, you can't make the same album over and over," he said. "A little renovation and reinvention is a positive thing."

One thing is for sure: Rzeznik is not worried about any listeners stubbornly stuck in the past.

"There's always going to be idiots on the Internet saying, 'Oh, this doesn't sound like 'Jed!'" he said, referring to the band's 1989 album. "It's like, man, I was 20 when I wrote that album."

The Goo Goo Dolls' sustained success has come from Rzeznik following his pen and guitar, and not critiques from fickle fans. With more than 10 million albums sold worldwide, it's a plan that has worked for the Buffalo, N.Y., trio for more than two decades. Like many songwriters before him, Rzeznik says he's still driven by the idea that he has yet to write his best work.

"I still want to write that perfect song, man," Rzeznik said. "I still believe if I keep trying, I'm going to come up with something good."

The Goo Goo Dolls may never achieve the heights of "Iris" again, but the band's catalog of hits is substantial enough to continue to draw large crowds. Next month, the band will co-headline an amphitheater tour with Matchbox 20. It stops at Jiffy Lube Live on Aug. 10.

Rzeznik was initially surprised the tour was booking such large venues, but it's a testament to the band's longevity and strong fan base. To Rzeznik, the formula for the Goo Goo Dolls' sustained success is clear — hard work, both in the studio and on the road. But he admits growing up hasn't hurt, either.

"The older we get, I find our relationship between the three [members] is better and better," Rzeznik said. "A lot of the pointy edges have sort of been [dulled]. It can get a little gnarly. But it's like, 'Hey, these guys are genuinely good guys.' If we weren't in a band together, I'd probably be friends with them."

If you go

The Goo Goo Dolls perform Friday at the Black-Eyed Susan Day Concert at Pimlico Race Course, 5201 Park Heights Ave. Rodney Atkins and Rachel Farley will also perform. The infield will open for the concert at 2 p.m. Music begins at 4 p.m. Tickets are $25. Call 410-542-9400 or go to blackeyedsusanday.com.

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