Group formed mid-1990s in Hanna, Alberta; members include Daniel Adair (born February 19, 1975, in Toronto, Ontario), drums; Brandon Kroeger, drums (member c. 1995–99): Chad Kroeger (born 1974), vocals, guitar; Mike Kroeger, bass; Ryan Peake, guitar, vocals; Ryan Vikedal, drums (member 1999–2005).
Addresses: Management —Union Entertainment Group, 1323 Newbury Rd., Ste. 104, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Record company —Roadrunner Records, 902 Broadway, New York, NY 10010. Website —http://www.nickelback.com.
Released EP Husher , 1996; released Curb , 1996; released The State , 1999 in Canada and 2000 in the United States; released Silver Side Up , 2001; released The Long Road , 2003; released All the Right Reasons , 2005.
Awards: Juno Award for best new group, CARAS, 2001; Juno Award for best group, CARAS, 2002; Juno Award for best single, CARAS, for "How You Remind Me," 2002; Juno Award for best rock album, CARAS, for Silver Side Up , 2002; Juno Award for songwriter of the year, CARAS, 2003; Juno Award for group of the year, CARAS, 2004; Juno Award for fan choice, CARAS, 2004; Juno Award for group of the year, CARAS, 2006; Juno Award for rock album of the year, CARAS, for All the Right Reasons , 2006; American Music Award for best pop/rock album for All the Right Reasons , 2006.
Nickelback became the most popular rock band to come out of Canada in the 2000s and one of the most commercially successful bands of the decade by relying on a hit-making formula of hard rock combined with melody and extremely catchy hooks. Sometimes described as post-grunge, a throwback to the grunge subgenre of 1990s alternative rock, Nickelback is better understood as a band inspired by 1980s metal and 1970s hard rock as well as grunge, with an ear for pop songcraft. Lead singer Chad Kroeger, with an unrelenting vocal delivery and dramatic hairstyle and goatee, has become one of the decade's omnipresent rock stars.
Nickelback formed in the small northern Canadian town of Hanna, Alberta, more than 200 miles northeast of Calgary in the mid-1990s. They began as a cover band, but once an early singer and guitarist left, Chad Kroeger began writing his own songs. His brother and bandmate, Mike, moved to Vancouver to play in a metal band, and the rest of Nickelback—Chad, his drumming cousin, Brandon, and guitarist Ryan Peake—traveled to Vancouver to record their songs, then moved to the city in 1996 to pursue a career in music. They quickly released an EP, Husher , followed by a full-length CD, Curb , and began touring Canada. Ryan Vikedal replaced Brandon Kroeger on drums in 1999, and the band released its second full-length album, The State , recorded at the Green House studio in Vancouver in 1999.
A single on The State , "Leader of Men," caught the attention of Canadian radio programmers. Nickelback got a boost from the fact that Canada had recently increased the amount of Canadian content its radio stations were required to play. Rock stations were desperate for new Canadian bands to add to their playlists, and Nickelback's post-grunge sound fit the bill. The band embarked on a 200-show tour to promote The State and opened for popular rock bands such as Creed and Silverchair. Soon they were signed to EMI in Canada and Roadrunner Records in the United States, which released The State there in early 2000. The album went on to sell 500,000 copies.
Nickelback returned to the Green House to record their next album, Silver Side Up , which included several songs the band had perfected on its long tour. Spurred by the hit single "How You Remind Me," which became the most played radio song of 2002, the album hit Number One on the Canadian and U.S. rock charts at the same time, the first time a band had done so since the Guess Who in 1970. The album eventually sold 8.5 million copies. Critics seemed to peg them as imitators of grunge, but the band seemed to differ. Chad Kroeger cited heavy-metal bands such as Metallica and Megadeth as his first influences. As for Nickelback's music, "Some people call it alternative rock, some call it this, that, or the other, but to us it's just straight-up rock and roll," he told Tom Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly .
Reviewer Erik Pedersen of the Hollywood Reporter seemed to grasp the essence of the band. Reporting on a Nickelback show in West Hollywood in October of 2001, Pedersen noted that the band had mixed the hard rock sound that had taken the airwaves back around the turn of the millennium with enough melody to appeal to a wide audience. They seemed equally familiar with late-1990s post-grunge, 1980s metal, and Led Zeppelin-style 1970s rock. Proud to be hard rockers, the band "shrugged at subtlety and hissed at trendiness," Pedersen wrote. He also noticed that Chad Kroeger, with his striking long hair and goatee, had become a charismatic rock frontman, noting that the lead singer easily got the crowd to scream when he wanted them to and that his performance of a more sensitive song, "Too Bad," addressed to Kroeger's father, "drew shrieks from the numerous females in the crowd."
The band's next album, The Long Road , arrived in 2003 and sold five million copies, while the single "Someday" hit the top ten. As fans embraced the album, some critics recoiled. Stephen Thomas Erlewine dismissed the band as "heavy-rock hucksters" who were aping grunge bands such as Nirvana or Alice in Chains but not bringing any fresh creativity to their expressions of angst. "It's all a generic litany of the torture of relationships and the evil that dad did," Erlewine complained. The final track, the party anthem "See You at the Show," only led Erlewine to doubt the sincerity of the somberness on the rest of the album. Chuck Arnold of People dismissed the album as "light on ingenuity" and songs such as "Someday" as built on shallow hooks that are initially catchy but ultimately forgettable. But Sinclair of Entertainment Weekly , proud not to be a rock snob, gave the album a B+, praising Chad Kroeger's "instantly identifiable voice imbued with passion and edge." To Sinclair, Nickelback's "single-minded fervor" and sing-along melodies made the band good.
Chad Kroeger emeged not only as a frontman on stage and on record, but also as a sort of musical entrepreneur, a calculating businessman, and songwriter. Reporters noted that the members of Nickelback started managing themselves between their first and second albums, with Chad Kroeger tracking radio airplay of their songs. Interviewers often found him talking at length about how he had studied what makes a popular song a hit. "I study everything," he told Karen Bliss of Canadian Musician . "I started studying every piece, everything sonically, everything lyrically, everything musically, chord structure. I would dissect every single song that I would hear on the radio or every song that had ever done well on a chart and I would say, 'Why did this do well?'" Nickelback's single "How You Remind Me," Kroeger told Bliss, sold so well because it was about romantic relationships, a universal subject, and contained three memorable hooks, including the "yeah-ehs" after the chorus.
Between albums, in 2005, drummer Ryan Vikedal left the band. He claimed the rest of the band had pushed him out because he was not the type of drummer they wanted. Daniel Adair, formerly of 3 Doors Down, replaced Vikedal as drummer. The group's next album, All the Right Reasons , was released in October of 2005. It included guest appearances by Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top—who played a guitar solo on the song "Follow You Home" and sang backing vocals on "Rock Star"—and a posthumously sampled appearance by Chad Kroeger's friend Dimebag Darrell from Pantera, culled from guitar outtakes. The band also explored a more acoustic sound on some songs. "Savin' Me," for instance, included strings and piano as well as guitars. "We were a little scared of using piano," Chad Kroeger said in a biography on the band's website. "We just didn't think it was very rock and roll." But once they heard the result, he added, they liked it.
The critical debate over Nickelback grew even more intense with the new album's release. Erlewine of All Music Guide noted that Kroeger evoked sadder emotions and the band responded with more acoustic instrumentation, but complained that the band still repeated the same chords, melodies, and harmonies too often; still played "clumsy, plodding riffs"; and included little humor in their lyrics. Meanwhile, Entertainment Weekly stuck up for Nickelback again. Reviewer Whitney Pastorek gave the album a B, praising the band's "richer, more diverse sound" and describing the single "Photograph" as "dreamy."
Nickelback spent much of 2006 touring. Meanwhile, Chad Kroeger was arrested in the British Columbia town of Surrey in June of 2006 and charged with drunken driving. His attorney entered a plea of not guilty on his behalf at a court hearing in August. In November of 2006, Nickelback won an American Music Award for best pop/rock album, surprising the band itself. "We just kinda showed up because we were supposed to give one of these away tonight," Chad Kroeger said after receiving the award, according to the Calgary Herald . Kroeger added that he had thought the Red Hot Chili Peppers would win the award.
As 2006 ended, All the Right Reasons had sold four million copies and spawned five singles. Yet Nickelback was not done promoting it. The band was set to headline an arena tour of North America in February and March of 2007.
Husher (EP), self-released, 1996.
Curb , self-released, 1996.
The State , self-released, 1999; released in the U.S. by Roadrunner, 2000.
Silver Side Up , Roadrunner, 2001.
The Long Road , Roadrunner, 2003.
All the Right Reasons , Roadrunner, 2005.
Billboard , February 26, 2000, p. 24.
Calgary Herald , November 22, 2006.
Canadian Musician , September-October 2003, p. 35.
Entertainment Weekly , October 26, 2001, p. 122; September 26, 2003, p. 93; October 28, 2005, p. 84.
Hollywood Reporter , October 15, 2001, p. 34.
People , October 13, 2003, p. 44.
Rock Airplay Monitor , July 26, 2002, p. 5.
Vancouver Sun , August 26, 2006.
"All the Right Reasons: Overview," All Music Guide , http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:17f8zfs4eh2k (November 14, 2006).
"Biography" Nickelback.com: The Official Nickelback Web Site, http://www.nickelback.com (November 14, 2006).
"The Long Road: Overview," All Music Guide , http://www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:ief1zff3eh3k (November 14, 2006).
"Nickelback: Biography," All Music Guide , http:// www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=11:kmmyxdyb2olg∼T1 (November 14, 2006).