Axed drummer George Tutuska talks about past with the Goo Goo Dolls; future with Bobo
Few bands have ever attained fame without making a few personnel changes along the way. Go down the list: The Beatles, Nirvana, Pearl Jam and, um, Spinal Tap, all had different members by the time their first record was certified platinum - or in the case of Tap, aluminum. Coincidentally, in all four cases, the drummers were the first to go. However, in none of the aforementioned cases did the drummer get ousted nearly a decade after he helped form the band and less than a year before they hit paydirt. That's what happened to original Goo Goo Dolls drummer George Tutuska.
"I have no resentment toward [the Goo Goo Dolls'] continued success," says Tutuska from his Buffalo home. "The only thing that bothers me to this very day is I never got my due as a songwriter and most people think, 'So what, they fired the drummer; it's just the drummer.' If I could give people a list of songs I wrote, I think it would shock them."
Following the completion of the Goos' A Boy Named Goo (1995), Tutuska was fired from the band by frontman Johnny Rzeznik. Tutuska said he'd previously told band management he wouldn't tour behind the album unless Rzeznik agreed to split royalties evenly among the three members, a practice Tutuska claims the band had engaged in since the release of their 1987 self-titled debut. During pre-production for Goo, Tutuska had been rattled to the core by news that Rzeznik purportedly was hoarding royalties for the Superstar Car Wash single "Fallin' Down." "I said, 'John, I'm kinda interested. I talk to friends all over the country and everyone tells me they hear ["Fallin' Down"] on the radio,' and I said, 'John, I haven't gotten one [royalty] check for that.' And he said, 'I got a confession to make. I've been getting checks for the last two years on this song.' And obviously, at that point, the shit hit the fan."
Tutuska was fired from the band just shy of A Boy Named Goo's release and replaced by Mike Malinin. The album, on the strength of the hit single "Name," was a runaway success and has since sold one-and-a-half million copies in the U.S. alone. Though Tutuska still receives royalty checks from that album and the previous four albums, he still feels shortchanged by the perception he was merely a third wheel among the trio. "Up until A Boy Named Goo I had written probably well over half the lyrics and I collaborated on music, but we split everything," Tutuska claims. A lot of the songs that had gotten airplay I'd written the lion's share of, but I had taken my third and now he wanted everything." (For the record, the Goo Goo Dolls camp had no comment on Tutuska's allegations.)
While Tutuska concedes "no matter what I say, it can come across as sour grapes," he has been busy juggling two careers: one as the drummer of the quintet Bobo and another as the co-owner of a home improvement company in Buffalo. "I'm not embarrassed by it," he says. "In fact, I'm proud of it. I'm a pretty good carpenter and I do a lot of things that I'm proud of, but I really want to get back to just playing music." Bobo (the second band Tutuska's formed since his departure from the Goo Goo Dolls) has released a six-song EP on the Buffalo-based P22 Records. They've apparently also sealed a deal to contribute a song to a future USA Networks movie based on the story of Mary Kay LeTourneau, the Washington area school teacher convicted of second-degree child rape of a sixth-grade male student.
Overall, Tutuska says, "I really am a happy person and I really am an active musician so I try to concentrate on what I'm doing instead of what I've done."
BLAIR R. FISCHER
(August 10, 1999)