Back in 1995, when the time came for The Goo Goo Dolls to fill their vacant drum throne, it only took one jam session for the already-established rock act to select current stickslinger Mike Malinin. Part of the selection team included guitarist/vocalist John Rzeznik who has penned and sung a majority of the band's most successful songs to date, including their breaththrough track,"Name," from their Warner/Metal Blade release A Boy Named Goo.
Rzeznik recalls the day he and bassist/vocalist Robby Takac first met with Malinin for the audition "Mike was the only guy we heard," he says. "We played twenty songs the first time we rehearsed with him, and he played them exceptionally well. Then we talked to Mike for a while and he seemed like a nice guy. So Robby and I went into the hallway and we said to each other, 'What do you think? You think we could take him in a fight?' And we were like, 'Yeah, I think we could take him. Okay, that's cool!' And that's how he wound up with the gig."
With his position secured, Malinin quickly bonded with his new bandmates and began touring and recording with the act. Rzeznik immediately began to take notice of Malinin's most shining qualities, including his open-mindedness and his ability to get things done expeditiously, plus the understanding and open communication he had built with his bandmates on a musical level. The recording session for Gutterflower was no exception.
According to Rzeznik, "It was interesting in the studio this time. It was really funny because we were recording one of the songs, and I wanted to hear a certain fill that I was singing. I was going, 'tat tat doodlee doom boom boom pish,' but it wasn't working. But Mike has this great ability-- you tell him to play like a certain drummer and he'll play exactly like him. For that fill it was, 'Well, what would Stewart Copeland do?' And Mike recorded a perfect Stewart Copeland fill. So then I just kept throwing different drummers' names at him, and he got 'em all-- and on tape! We listened back to all of all of the fills, and then we told him to combine a couple drummers. It was cool."
Though Rzeznik might appear to be very specific about what he wants, he does note that he presents quite an open playing field for Malinin. " 'I present the 'boom-bop-boom-boom-bop, there ya go, that's it.' And then I'm like, 'Mike, I want you to do what you want in there. Just mix it up.' "
As for what role Malinin plays in the band, Rzeznik says, "He's the stable unit among all of us. Day in and day out, he's the most consistent musically. He just doesn't have a bad day on the drums. It's bizarre, because it's so rare that he does clam that when it happens, I almost crap my pants! It's like, 'Jesus, what in the hell just happened?' I'll look at him and go, 'What was that? you never screw up!' "