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Nickelback


It should be no surprise, given Starbucks ubiquity that its' influence has seeped into unexpected places.

In '96, bassist Mike Kroeger was working as a Starbucks cashier. At the time coffee cost $1.45. So when a customer paid a dollar and two quarters they got a nickel back.

Mike, along with his brother, singer/guitarist Chad, their drummer cousin Brandon and longtime friend, guitarist Ryan Peake, formed Nickelback in Vancouver. While Nickelback's full-length debut "Curb" was successful in Canada, the group had trouble finding a long-term drummer. They went through a total of six before Peake's old friend Ryan Vikedal joined.

During July and August of '98, Nickelback recorded "The State" containing "Leader Of Men," "One Last Run" and "Old Enough." The early '99 indie release led to a Roadrunner Records deal and extensive touring with Creed, Everclear and Stabbing Westward. Part of Roadrunner's promotion plan included the re-release of "The State."

"How You Remind Me" was the lead single from Nickelback's sophomore Roadrunner effort "Silver Side Up." Second single "Too Bad" was also a hit and the album won a Juneau award - the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy.

Kroeger partnered with Saliva vocalist Josey Scott for "Hero." The '02 release from the "Spider-Man" soundtrack did major damage on both the Modern Rock and pop charts. "The Long Road" came out in '03 and included the hit "Someday."

With Dan Adair on drums Nickelback released "All The Right Reasons" with hit single "Photograph," "Savin' Me" and "Fight For All The Wrong Reasons." The album also contained the ironically titled, "Side Of A Bullet," featuring late Damageplan/Pantera guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. The track, a tribute to the slain musician, had a guitar solo compiled from out-takes Abbott recorded during Pantera sessions. "He was taken in such a horrible, malicious way that just made it more painful," Chad was quoted as saying. In addition, ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons contributed to "Follow You Home."

The group promoted their '05 release with an appearance on NBC's Tonight Show With Jay Leno. They also hit four cities, Halifax, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver in a day (October 13th) doing interviews, meet-and-greets and performances.

Playing biker gatherings can be dangerous. Even when things go good, it can be rough - tough love. Not deterred Nickelback made an '06 tour stop at South Dakota's Sturgis Bike Week Festival. The DVD - Live From Sturgis hit the following year containing "How You Remind Me," "Someday," and "Far Away."

Getting a song in a movie or a commercial can allow a group to reach an audience that often can't be tapped through traditional channels (radio/videos). Nickelback and a few thousand fans took the plunge at the Los Angeles Forum (a little saner venue than biker rallies) to film an '08 Citibank commercial. The ad featured the group performing "Gotta Be Somebody," the first single from "Dark Horse."

The lead single can be a make or break proposition - even for a band that has logged more than 26 million album sales. It's a decision that needs to be weighed carefully. A popular single builds a buzz that extends beyond the hard core fans. A flop not only fails to make any noise, it turns programmers cautious, if not reluctant, to go any deeper into the album.

Roadrunner Records initially announced that "If Today Was Your Last Day" was to be the first single off '08's "Dark Horse." But it was eventually dislodged by "Gotta Be Somebody." The switch proved to be a smart call. "Gotta Be Somebody" reached #1 on the Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks chart and #10 on the Hot 100 chart. The following year, Country performer Bucky Covington covered the tune and released it as a single.

Nickelback issued their seventh studio album, "Here And Now" in November, '11. "We're four people who love making music, the way we like to make it," said Chad. "We entered the studio this year with a vision, and it all came together. We're extremely happy with the results." The self-produced follow-up to '08's triple platinum album "Dark Horse" featured "When We Stand Together" and "Bottoms Up."

To promote the album Nickelback booked a Thanksgiving Day appearance during halftime of the Detroit Lions/Green Bay Packers game. But hometown fans launched an online petition that stated Motown had many great performers (Bob Seger, Aretha Franklin, Alice Cooper, Kid Rock, etc.) to celebrate the city's musical culture and asked why give national TV exposure to a Canadian band when a 'local' act would be more reflective of the community?

Regardless, Nickelback played the show. "When the whole thing was going on with the petition and, you know, the NFL was calling us twice a day going, 'Oh, my God, we're so happy. The viewership just went up by 15 million'," claimed Chad.



Following the Turkey Day hubbub the Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney took a shot at Nickelback stating, "Rock & Roll is dying because people became OK with Nickelback being the biggest band in the world... So they became OK with the idea that the biggest Rock band in the world is always going to be shit - therefore you should never try to be the biggest Rock band in the world." He later apologized (sort of) saying, "It just came out. There are much worse bands than Nickelback." That's the best he can do? Even Keys bandmate Dan Auerbach called it the "worst apology!"

What about any recognition of all that Nickelback accomplished? A Grammy or even induction into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame? Chad, in an interview with the Edmonton Journal, was hardly optimistic. "We may be dead by then, but I think the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will probably show up the same time as our first Grammy."

Fortunately, there was something to brighten the mood. Chad and Avril Lavigne tied the knot in Cannes, France on 7/1/13.

"No Fixed Address" was Nickelback's eighth studio album. The set contained the singles, "Edge Of A Revolution" and "What Are You Waiting For?" It was group's first effort for Republic Records (after moving from Roadrunner) and its release (11/17/14) coincided with the 6th anniversary of their sixth studio album, "Dark Horse."

Still, the negatives outweighed the positives. Shortly after Carney's statement, and hollow apology, Nickelback became a music industry whipping boy.

There was the clear perception that the band's popularity was disproportionate to their talent. In an unusual twist, the opening salvos came not from critics but the law.

Police in Queensland, Australia issued a joke BOLO (Be On the Lookout) for Nickelback citing "crimes against music." The band was on their Down Under tour. Queensland Police Service warned the public of the hazards of listening to the band's music. Kind of funny.

A year later though, CBC News reported that the Kensington Police Service in Canada had threatened holiday drunk drivers with having to listen to Nickelback in the squad car on the way to the police station.

"Poor Nickelback," said Const. Robb Hartlen, the man behind the campaign. "They take the brunt of a nation's joke, and I'm sure they're crying all the way to the bank." Hartlen admitted to liking a few of the band's songs.

A Nickelback rep immediately demanded the post be taken down and Hartlen eventually apologized for using Nickelback in a demeaning way to fight drunk driving. It didn't stop there.

People hate Nickeback because they "lack authenticity." That was the conclusion reached Finnish doctoral student Salli Anttonen in her paper Hypocritical Bullsh*t Performed Through Gritted Teeth: Authenticity Discourses in Nickelback's Album Reviews in Finnish Media. The group's commercial success was also cited as a reason to dislike them.

Following the televised debate between presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Royal Blood tweeted "Donald Trump + Hilary Clinton = Nickelback." Nickelback responded with "Nickelback jokes are like Royal Blood - they were a lot cooler a couple of years ago. Don't drink and tweet fellas. Stay safe."

The piling on reached a zenith when Nickelback got slammed by Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg in a promo video for Jarvis, a work in-progress artificial intelligence system. Zuckerberg asked the program to "play us some good Nickelback songs." Jarvis stated, "There are no good Nickelback songs," To which Zukerberg exclaimed, "Good! That was actually a test."

The following day, Lavigne, now Kroeger's ex-wife, jumped into the fray defending the group.

Nickelback couldn't even get respect from Lloyd's Of London. They sued the insurance giant for non-payment of $13 million dollars after the group's "No Fixed Address" tour was cancelled following Kroeger's surgery for an intracordal cyst. A month earlier, Lloyd's sued Kroeger for allegedly failing to disclose that he had a pre-existing throat condition.

"Right now it's become trendy to hate Nickelback, and no one even knows why," said tour manager Kevin Zaruk back in '12. And so it continued.

Shortly before the release of "Feed The Machine," Chad gave a series of promotional interviews. One in particular, with Metal Covenant, created a stir.

In the interview Kroeger called Stone Sour "Nickelback Lite" and challenged Stone Sour frontman Corey Taylor to "write a hit song." It may have escaped Kroeger's notice that Stone Sour's "Song #3" was currently #1 on the Active Rock chart.

After years of being dissed, dismissed and ridiculed, Kroeger obviously wanted to go on the offensive and it just so happened that Stone Sour was about to release their sixth album "Hydrograd." On top of that, Taylor had taken his shots at Kroeger and Nickelback in the past. The stars were aligned.

Taylor, who also fronted Slipknot, another target of Kroeger's criticisms, responded by calling Kroeger an 'idiot'. He then went on to say that Nickelback was to Rock what KFC was to chicken.

Despite the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, "Feed The Machine," Nickelback's ninth album, arrived in '17. "(It) is definitely heavier, as a whole, than a lot of our previous records," Chad stated.

"Feed The Machine" debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200.

Just for reference, Stone Sour's "Hydrograd" debuted at #8 and sold several thousand fewer copies.
Nickelback Discography

Albums:

1996 Curb
2000 The State
2001 Silver Side Up
2003 The Long Road
2005 All The Right Reasons
2008 Dark Horse
2011 Here And Now
2014 No Fixed Address
2017 Feed The Machine

Since "All The Right Reasons" Nickelback has had the problem of following one multi-platinum album with another. Here's how they do it. Open with fierce Rock track. Then pivot toward a pop-oriented song before backing off even further with the soft-Rock track. Repeat.

As "Dark Horse" was released Kroeger said that he hoped everyone who bought "All The Right Reasons" (8 million copies sold) would pick up this album. "Call us greedy, but we want to keep 'em all," said the frontman. "We want to keep going back to all those towns and have those people . . . want to sing our songs back at us, twice as loud." That's the mission statement.



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