But even with his undeniably gorgeous face plastered all over VH1,
Rzeznik says he still sometimes feels dorky.
"I'm self-conscious most of the time," he says.
"As a kid I was a reject and an outcast-and you always carry a thread of that with you."So the man who's single-handedly keeping true rock-and-roll on the chartsJust ask Rzeznik about the critics who claim that
doesn't have the attitude to back it up?
Well, not exactly.
the Goo Goo Dolls have spent much of their
career as an underground, alternative rock band-sold out by
scoring big with a power ballad and hear
his attitude come to the surface.
"It's amazing," says Rzeznik,
shaking his head as he sits alongside his band-mates in a New York City loft apartment.
"When you find success, suddenly you have to defend your credibility against [people] who don't know you. Some of these critics make it sound like we're the Backstreet Boys,
like we're and R&B track act. I feel like saying
'We've been a band for 12 years!'"
Actually, says Rzeznik, he doesn't mean to badmouth the Backstreet Boys.
The following night, he's scheduled to play a benefit concert alongside the likes of 'N Sync, Monica and Brian Setzer, among others.
"If I was going to be snotty," he says,
"I would refuse to play with anyone but thr 'cool' acts.
But what do I care? People mask their feelings of inadequacy with arrogance-and I'm not about to do that."
Rzeznik sounds a little wounded as he defends himself.
Could his inner geek somehow still feel the sting that comes with the negative reviews and sarcastic barbs in the press?
"Yeah. Sometimes it hurts like hell. I obsess over these things because I mean every note I play. Well, all I have to say is 'Do it better than me!'"
The Goo Goo Dolls say they find it funny to defend their credibility in the face of commercial success, especailly because they never expected to have commercial success in the first place.
"We really didn't start out with the idea that we'd be successful," says Robby Takac, the band's bassist, and lead singer on a number of songs.
"It's just that Johnny writes songs that have crossover appeal."
"Mainstream success wasn't the object. We've been more successful then we ever thought we'd be. It's a nice product of a doing a good job."
Now that they've conquered the pop charts, though, the Goo Goo Dolls aren't completely opposed to some of the glamour that comes with it.
"For our 'Iris' video, I wanted to wear some nice clothes. Some say it detracts from the music, but I dig getting dressed up," says Rzeznik "I'm playing the part."
Plus, Rzeznik says he gets free clothes from designers.
"Look at this outfit," he says pointing to his tight leather pants and Ralph Lauren turtleneck. "I got the turtleneck,the pants, and the shoes for free. Now I don't have to worry about having holes in my socks."
Indeed, after more of a decade of struggling, Rzeznik believes the Goo Goo Dolls are entitled to some rewards. Before they signed with Warner Bros., the band spent years on an independant label, a deal that was financially disastrous. As Takac recalls it, the band "got ripped off and lied to a thousand times."
Another potential perk to hitting the mainstreem was the possibility of "Iris" getting an Oscar nomination (it didn't!). But the band talked about the prospect of attending the big movie awards night.
"I'd like to meet Minnie Driver," says Rzeznik, who's seperated from his wife. "If Minnie reads this I want her to call me!"
"I'm waiting on Neve Campbell," adds drummer Mike Malinin.
Rzeznik doesn't want to give up 2 of his other passions:
Tattoos and cars.
Last year, he sat for two 5-hour sessions while getting a very complex, colorful tattoo modeled after a painting called "The Dream."
Rzeznik shows off the tattoo on his upper arm and then recounts on how a few days back, he was doing a show in Indiana when he saw a fan woth the same exact tattoo.
"I said 'Let me see that!'" Rzeznik says. "I couldn't believe she already had it done; I haven't even had my own tattoo that long."
Rzeznik's other passion-cars-is a fairly recent interest.
He didn't get his driver's license ubtil a year ago, but now he's shopping for a cool 1960s convertable. His eyes light up as he looks over a vintage auto catalouge.
"I haven't really bought anything flashy for myself since our success." he says "I think a car is the thing to get."
Rzeznik explains that while shooting the video for "Dizzy," the band drove down the country backroads in a vintage car, speeding along in time with the straight-on rock track. Rzeznik cranked the car up to 70 miles per hour and scared Takac and Malinin in the process.
"I don't know what got into me. I was watching the video on TV, and I just couldn't believe it," says Rzeznik
"Y'know, Johnny waited 'til he was 32 to get his license," says Takac, with a laugh, "now he thinks he's a real stunt driver."
While the long-term future crtainly looks bright for the Goo Goo Dolls, what about the approach of the millennium and all the Y2K warnings?
"I'm kind of scared," Rzeznik admits.
But he's got a pretty sound game plan:
"I'm going to stockpile beef jerkey and water and dig myself a latrine."