Even Ted Nugent wants to get backstage to meet Nickelback as Silver Side Up storms the charts


By Steve Newton

If you want to know how well Nickelback lead vocalist, guitarist, and lyricist Chad Kroeger’s musical career is going, you only need look as far as the 27-year-old rocker’s Langley home. He just put in a hot tub. And had the pool enlarged. He’s going to be building a guesthouse on the property as well—with a recording studio, of course.

You may be wondering: did the guy win the lottery? In a way, he did, but his winning ticket didn’t sport six numbers, just four words: “How You Remind Me”. That tune is the number one Top 40 song in North America, and because of that, Nickelback’s current disc, Silver Side Up, is selling upward of 150,000 copies a week in the U.S. alone. Since its release on September 11—not a particularly great day for record-buying—the CD has sold more than two million copies Stateside.

That’s one hefty pile of plastic.

While Nickelback’s enormous popularity may have come as a surprise to many, it didn’t to Kroeger. When he was interviewed by the Georgia Straight last January, he told Mike Usinger, “I can’t wait to make something that’s a thundering monstrosity.” He was referring to Silver Side Up, which was recorded just across town at Burnaby’s Greenhouse Studios. The group brought in hotshot Seattle producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog) and local mixer-to-the-stars Randy Staub (Metallica, Bryan Adams, Bon Jovi) to give the music that radio-ready sheen, and North American programmers took the bait in a big way.

Much monstrous thunder ensued.

Of course, since the release of Silver Side Up, the members of Nickelback—which also includes guitarist-vocalist Ryan Peake, bassist and Chad’s brother Mike Kroeger, and drummer Ryan Vikedal—haven’t just been hanging out at their frontman’s renovated pad, frolicking in the tub with groupies and listening to themselves on CFOX. As they have ever since the release of their previous CD, The State—which has sold a respectable 500,000 units in the U.S.—they’ve been touring like maniacs. They spent 14 months in America after The State was released, and they expect to stay out there just as long on the Silver tour.

As grueling as the band’s schedule is these days, when Chad Kroeger rings in from backstage at a sold-out, 5,000-seat arena in Mount Pleasant, Michigan—where the band is headlining, with Vancouver buddies Default warming up—he doesn’t sound road-weary at all. Matter of fact, he sounds positively relaxed.

“It’s hard to get burnt out,” he relates, “because everything is being made extremely comfortable for us on the road. We’ve got separate buses, we’ve got trucks hauling everything, so we get to leave at different times when we want to. Everything’s pretty cozy on the road.”

And when the Nickelbackers get tired of all that coziness, there’s always some kind of rowdy mischief to get up to. According to one of the Internet articles included in a 30-page press kit issued by the group’s domestic distributor, EMI Music Canada, the current tour saw the band pay one of its crew roughly $300 to stop an electric fan with his “johnson”. And when Kroeger and his mates aren’t inciting their roadies to perform risky stunts, they get them involved in other ways.

“Tonight is mustache night for the crew,” he explains, “so everyone’s putting on their fake mustaches. A coupla nights ago was big-wig night, so all the crew put on their wigs. We just have these theme nights to try and break up the monotony of it all.”

So where did this band with the power to make grown men stick their dicks in whirling plastic blades get its start, anyway? Although the Vancouver press is quick to label Nickelback a hometown band, clippings from the Edmonton Journal have them hailing from the small town of Hanna, Alberta.

“Nickelback got its break in Vancouver,” Kroeger says, “so I just like to say, ‘Nickelback is from Vancouver. Chad, Ryan, Ryan, and Mike are from Alberta.’ ”

Before moving to Van in ’96, Kroeger handled lead guitar in a Hanna-based cover band that specialized in semi-obscure tunes by the Doughboys, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Green Day. The group would quickly learn new tunes, then incorporate them into its set.

“Everybody thought we wrote [Green Day’s] ‘Longview’ until it went huge,” Kroeger recalls with a chuckle. “Then we’d stop playing it and go on and pick the next obscure thing that nobody had heard of.”

When he wasn’t nicking guitar licks from the likes of Billie Joe Armstrong, Kroeger developed his own arsenal of heavy sounds, and by the time Nickelback surfaced in Lotusland, he was anxious to get his original tunes heard. The group had to borrow a fair whack of cash to get The State made, but, looking back, it was worth the risk.

“Nothing ventured, nothing gained,” quips Kroeger, whose all-time favourite rock artists are CCR’s John Fogerty and Metallica’s James Hetfield. “Also, no pain, no gain. We were four kids with nothing, you know, borrowing more than $30,000 from friends, family, banks—anybody who would give us a dollar or two—and making that record.”

Kroeger released The State independently, calling on his considerable business savvy to make the most of the investment. Over the years, he had paid close attention to how the music industry works and learned “a ton of stuff” about radio promotion from former CFOX music director Rob Robson.

He managed to get enough program directors to play The State’s single, “Leader of Men”, that a buzz started to build, but even then he couldn’t find a Canadian label that showed an interest in signing the band. Nowadays, Kroeger sees that rejection as a huge blessing, because eventually Nickelback got scooped up by U.S.–based Roadrunner Records, which had strong-enough distribution to help boost the band into the big leagues.

Not content just to be the frontman of one of today’s fastest-rising rock acts, Kroeger—along with Nickelback’s Vancouver lawyer, Jonathan Simkin—recently started a production company, which has already signed local rockers Theory of a Dead Man and is looking at other acts from Toronto and the States. In the meantime, Kroeger is confident that his own band’s domination of the North American rock charts will continue.

“We’ll see what the next single does,” he says, referring to “Too Bad”, a propulsive slice of raging riff-rock that is a fitting follow-up to the current monster hit. “You know, the first single jumped into the ring and started swinging, and it’s shown us all what it can do. And it’s still swinging—we’re getting a lot of feedback from radio stations that we don’t even need to switch singles yet in America, because people aren’t tired of hearin’ the song yet.”

Not everyone in the world is so enamoured of the Nickelback sound, though; some believe the band is just cashing in on the grungy, post–Pearl Jam style that’s all the rage these days. In a cover story in the November issue of Chart magazine, the notoriously outspoken Matthew Good is quoted as saying that “if you line up Creed, 3 Doors Down, Staind, Nickelback, and Default, you’ve got the same band.” But Kroeger believes Good’s recently published rant is more sour grapes than anything else.

“That’s what happens when you try and release in America and it stiffs,” he counters. “You start lashing out at other people that do have success there. I just think that if you’re gonna go around collecting bad karma as a hobby, sooner or later it’s gonna catch up to you.”

Good’s commentary notwithstanding, this scribbler must admit that there are also those on the Straight’s own music-writing staff who are leery of the interchangeable neogrunge bands that Nickelback—rightly or wrongly—gets lumped in with. When the first promo copy of Silver Side Up slid across the music editor’s desk in September, three potential reviewers simultaneously eyed it with suspicion. I was one of them, I’ll confess, but when I got the disc home and cranked it up, tunes like “Never Again”, ‘Too Bad”, and “Money Bought” won me over to the band’s intense brand of melodic guitar rock.

“We’re modern rock,” Kroeger stresses, “and that’s what heavy rock ’n’ roll sounds like these days. But everybody’s got their own spin on it. Like you said yourself, you do like 3 Doors Down, but you don’t like Creed. I mean, you’ve got my vote right there. I’m not a big Creed fan, but I do like 3 Doors Down.”

Whatever you think of Nickelback, you’ve got to give them credit for working their Prairie-bred buns off to earn membership in the platinum-plus club. Whatever success they have, they’ve won through intense touring, business smarts, and a knack for catchy guitar rock. Two weeks ago, the band put tickets on sale for its winter Canadian tour and immediately sold out such venues as the 12,000-seat Skyreach Centre in Edmonton. Reportedly, the lineup for tickets in Victoria was so long that police were called in to keep an eye on things. According to Kroeger, even the Motor City Madman has tried wangling his way into a Nickelback gig.

“Last night we played the State Theater in Detroit,” he says, “and Ted Nugent tried to get backstage. But the two guys at the door didn’t believe that he was Ted Nugent, and asked him to leave. I was devastated.”

Here’s a tip for any unwitting security guys who might be working the backstage gate at Nickelback’s Plaza of Nations show on New Year’s Eve: if a Jesus-lookin’ dude with long, curly brown hair, mustache, and beard comes up and tells you he’s the singer in the band, let him in. You don’t mess with success.

Or Jesus, for that matter.


To hear the full, 32-minute audio of my 2001 interview with Chad Kroeger subscribe to my Patreon page, where you can eavesdrop on over 350 of my uncut, one-on-one conversations with:

Bob Siebenberg of Supertramp, 1985
Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes, 1996
Jesse Valenzuela of Gin Blossoms, 1996
Tom Cochrane, 1991
Ian Astbury of the Cult, 1992
Roger Glover of Deep Purple, 1984
Alice Cooper, 1989
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1989
Kevn Kinney of Drivin’ n Cryin’, 1989
Martin Popoff, 2023
Russ Dwarf of the Killer Dwarfs, 1988
Paul Kelly, 1995
Jay Semko of the Northern Pikes, 1988
John Oates of Hall & Oates, 1984
Holly Woods of Toronto, 1984
Corey Hart, 1984
Billy Currie of Ultravox, 1984
James Ingram, 1983
Jordan Cook, 2001
Steve Earle, 2012
Kim Mitchell, 1992
Chris de Burgh, 1984
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1994
Steve Negus of Saga, 1983
Denis Bélanger of Voivod, 1993
Chaka Khan, 2022
Ben Harper, 2022
Nick Feldman of Wang Chung, 1987
Delvon Lamarr of the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, 2022
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1999
Hugh Dillon of Headstones, 1994
Kevin Martin of Candlebox, 1994
Joey Molland of Badfinger, 1987
Martha Davis of the Motels, 1985
Brian Vollmer of Helix, 1985
Gord Downie of the Tragically Hip, 1992
Tommy Aldridge of Whitesnake, 1990
Steve Miller, 2022
Al Stewart, 1985
Stewart Copeland from the Police, 2022
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1994
Terry “Mess” Messal of Flies on Fire, 1992
James Cotton, 2002
Martin Barre from Jethro Tull, 2022
David Gogo, 1994
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1990
Greg Keelor of Blue Rodeo, 1992
Popa Chubby, 1995
Jerome Godboo of the Phantoms, 1990
Alain Caron of UZEB, 1985
Billy Sheehan of Mr. Big, 1989
Ty Tabor of King’s X, 2001
Mike Gordon of Phish, 1993
Paul Shaffer of David Letterman, 2022
Paul Nieder of Scatterbrain, 1991
Bob Rock, 2002
John Cougar, 1983
Guitar Shorty, 2001
Cy Curnin of the Fixx, 1984
James Young from Styx, 1986
Charlie Musselwhite, 2002
Steve Morse of Deep Purple, 1998
Lenny Kravitz, 1998
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1998
Tinsley Ellis, 1992
Matt Minglewood, 1985
Mojo Nixon and Country Dick Montana of the Pleasure Barons, 1993
Bill Davis of Dash Rip Rock, 1992
Sue Foley, 1992
Tom Keifer of Cinderella, 1991
Terry Adams of NRBQ, 1997
Mark Hollis of Talk Talk, 1984
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 2010
Slash of Guns N’ Roses and Slash’s Snakepit, 1995
Sonny Rhodes, 1999
Peter Goalby of Uriah Heep, 1983
Lenny Zakatek of the Alan Parsons Project, 1983
Marc Storace of Krokus, 1983
Chris Whitley, 1991
Buddy Cage of New Riders of the Purple Sage, 2006
Bill Elm of Friends of Dean Martinez, 1995
Simon Townshend, 1983
John Bush of Anthrax, 1993
Aldo Nova, 1983
Steven Adler from Guns N’ Roses, 2011
Mick Ronson, 1989
Tom Morello, 2011
Jakob Dylan of the Wallflowers, 1993
Colin Hay of Men at Work, 1983
Mark Kelly of Marillion, 1986
Luther Allison, 1995
Lee Rocker from the Stray Cats, 2007
J. Geils from the J. Geils Band, 2006
Rob Thomas of Matchbox 20, 1997
Jason Newsted of Newsted (and Metallica), 2013
Marshall Crenshaw, 2013
Dan Hartman, 1984
Sean Costello, 2006
Roger Hodgson from Supertramp, 1998
Tommy Stinson from the Replacements, 1993
Brian Blush of the Refreshments, 1997
Joe Elliott of Def Leppard, 2003
Craig Northey of Strippers Union, 2021
Melissa Etheridge, 1990
Joe Jackson, 2003
Pepper Keenan of Corrosion of Conformity, 2001
David Ellefson of Megadeth, 1992
David Lee Roth, 2003
Grant Walmsley of the Screaming Jets, 1991
John Popper of Blues Traveler, 1991
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 2012
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1993
Ellen McIlwaine, 2001
Derek Trucks of Tedeschi Trucks, 2012
J.D. Fortune of INXS, 2006
Fernando von Arb of Krokus, 1984
Gary Holt of Exodus, 1985
Dizzy Reed of Guns N’ Roses, 1992
Scott Ian of Anthrax, 2012
Gary Lee Conner of Screaming Trees, 1992
Nick Rhodes of Duran Duran, 1985
David “Honeyboy” Edwards, 2003
Rudolf Schenker of Scorpions, 1992
Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, 2001
Jeff Keith of Tesla, 1988
Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton of Arc Angels, 1992
Marc Bonilla, 1992
Mike Smith of Sandbox (and Trailer Park Boys), 1996
Dewey Bunnell of America, 1983
Robert Randolph of the Family Band, 2003
Keith Strickland of the B-52s, 2008
David Johansen of the New York Dolls, 2005
Nathan Followill of Kings of Leon, 2003
Todd Kerns, 2016
Bill Payne of Little Feat, 2002
Robbin Crosby of Ratt, 1989
Tommy Shannon of SRV & Double Trouble, 1998
Alejandro Escovedo, 1997
Billy Duffy of the Cult, 1989
Dave Martone, 2020
Ian Gillan of Deep Purple, 2006
Joss Stone, 2012
Glenn Tipton of Judas Priest, 2005
Jack Blades of Night Ranger, 1984
Vivian Campbell of Def Leppard, 1992
Colin James, 1995
Kim Simmonds of Savoy Brown, 1998
Tom Cochrane of Red Rider, 1983
Ed Roland of Collective Soul, 1995
Taj Mahal, 2001
Tom Wilson of Junkhouse, 1995
Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, 2003
David Lindley, 2002
Marty Friedman of Megadeth, 1991
John Hiatt, 2010
Nancy Wilson of Heart, 2006
Jeff Golub, 1989
Moe Berg of the Pursuit of Happiness, 1990
Todd Rundgren, 2006
Chad Kroeger of Nickelback, 2001
Steve Earle, 1987
Gabby Gaborno of the Cadillac Tramps, 1991
Terry Bozzio, 2003
Roger Glover, 1985
Matthew Sweet, 1995
Jim McCarty of the Yardbirds, 2003
Luther Dickinson of North Mississippi Allstars, 2001
John Rzeznik of the Goo Goo Dolls, 1995
Steve Hackett from Genesis, 1993
Grace Potter, 2008
Buddy Guy, 1993
Steve Lynch of Autograph, 1985
Don Wilson of the Ventures, 1997
Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, 1998
Trevor Rabin of Yes, 1984
Albert Lee, 1986
Yngwie Malmsteen, 1985
Robert Cray, 1996
Tony Carey, 1984
Ian Hunter, 1988
Kate Bush, 1985
Jeff Healey, 1988
Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi, 1993
Colin Linden, 1993
Kenny Wayne Shepherd, 1995
Justin Hayward of the Moody Blues, 1986
Elliot Easton from the Cars, 1996
Wayne Kramer from the MC5, 2004
Bob Rock, 1992
Nick Gilder, 1985
Roy Buchanan, 1988
Klaus Meine of Scorpions, 1988
Jason Bonham, 1989
Tom Johnston of the Doobie Brothers, 1991
Joey Spampinato of NRBQ, 1985
Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers, 2003
Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, 2003
Steve Kilbey of the Church, 1990
Johnette Napolitano of Concrete Blonde, 1990
Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, 1984
Davy Knowles of Back Door Slam, 2007
Jimmy Barnes from Cold Chisel, 1986
Steve Stevens of Atomic Playboys, 1989
Billy Idol, 1984
Stuart Adamson of Big Country, 1993
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull, 1992
Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule, 1998
John Bell of Widespread Panic, 1992
Robben Ford, 1993
Barry Hay of Golden Earring, 1984
Jason Isbell, 2007
Joe Satriani, 1990
Brad Delp of Boston, 1988
John Sykes of Blue Murder, 1989
Dave Mustaine of Megadeth, 1998
Alice Cooper, 1986
Lars Ulrich of Metallica, 1985
Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon, 1992
Myles Goodwyn of April Wine, 2001
John Mellencamp, 1999
Mike Campbell of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, 1999
Kenny Aronoff, 1999
Jon Bon Jovi, 1986
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1992
Little Steven, 1987
Stevie Salas, 1990
J.J. Cale, 2009
Joe Bonamassa, 2011
John Petrucci of Dream Theater, 2010
Alex Van Halen, 1995
Eric Johnson, 2001
Stu Hamm, 1991
Gene Simmons of Kiss, 1992
Ace Frehley from Kiss, 2008
David Lee Roth, 1994
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
John Mayall of the Bluesbreakers, 1988
Tony Iommi of Heaven and Hell, 2007
Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, 1996
Geoff Tate of Queensryche, 1991
James Hetfield of Metallica, 1986
Stevie Ray Vaughan, 1990
Rick Richards of the Georgia Satellites, 1988
Andy McCoy and Sam Yaffa of Hanoi Rocks, 1984
Steve Morse, 1991
Slash of Guns N’ Roses, 1994
Brian May from Queen, 1993
Dickey Betts of the Allman Brothers, 1991
Jake E. Lee of Badlands, 1992
Rickey Medlocke of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1997
John Fogerty, 1997
Joe Perry of Aerosmith, 1987
Rick Derringer, 1999
Robin Trower, 1990
Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, 1994
Mick Ronson, 1988
Geddy Lee of Rush, 2002
Buck Dharma of Blue Oyster Cult, 1997
Michael Schenker, 1992
Vince Neil of Motley Crue, 1991
Vinnie Paul of Pantera, 1992
Joan Jett, 1992
Steve Harris of Iron Maiden, 1988
Sebastian Bach of Skid Row, 1989
Rob Halford of Judas Priest, 1984
Bill Henderson of Chilliwack, 1999
Paul Rodgers, 1997
R.L. Burnside, 1999
Guthrie Govan of the Aristocrats, 2015
Mick Mars of Mötley Crüe, 1985
Carlos Santana, 2011
Walter Trout, 2003
Rudy Sarzo of Quiet Riot, 1983
Tommy Aldridge, 2001
Donald “Duck” Dunn, 1985
Mark Farner of Grand Funk, 1991
Chris Robinson of Black Crowes, 1990
Jennifer Batten, 2002
Mike Fraser, 2014
Leo Kottke, 2002
Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead, 2002
David Gogo, 1991
Booker T. Jones, 2016
Link Wray, 1997
James Reyne from Australian Crawl, 1988
Mike Rutherford of Genesis, 1983
Buddy Guy, 1991
Country Dick Montana of the Beat Farmers, 1990
Mike Cooley of the Drive-By Truckers, 2016
Gary Rossington of Lynyrd Skynyrd, 1986
Lindsay Mitchell of Prism, 1988
Buddy Miles, 2001
Eddie Money, 1988
Tom Hamilton of Aerosmith, 1983
Gaye Delorme, 1990
Dave Murray of Iron Maiden, 1984
Graham Bonnet of Alcatrazz, 1984
Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac, 2016
Doc Neeson of Angel City, 1985
Rik Emmett of Triumph, 1985
Sonny Landreth, 2016
Tosin Abasi of Animals as Leaders, 2016
Jeff Beck, 2001
Albert King, 1990
Johnny Ramone of the Ramones, 1992
Peter Frampton, 1987
Otis Rush, 1997
Leslie West of Mountain, 2002
Steve Howe of Yes, 2017
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, 1983
Uli Jon Roth, 2016
Poison Ivy of the Cramps, 1990
Greg Lake of ELP, 1992
Robert Plant, 1993
Malcolm Young and Brian Johnson of AC/DC, 1983
Warren Zevon, 1992
Tal Wilkenfeld, 2016
Steve Clark of Def Leppard, 1988
Roy Buchanan, 1986
Gary Moore, 1984
Ronnie Montrose, 1994
Danny Gatton, 1993
Alex Lifeson of Rush, 1992
Ann Wilson of Heart, 1985
J.J. Cale, 1990
Yngwie Malmsteen, 2014
Chris Cornell, 2008
Long John Baldry, 1985
Allan Holdsworth, 1983
Kim Mitchell, 1984
Warren Haynes of Allman Brothers, 1994
Derek Trucks, 1998
Susan Tedeschi, 1998
Joe Satriani, 2018
B.B. King, 1984
Albert Collins, 1985
Ronnie James Dio, 1985
Tony Iommi of Black Sabbath, 1984
Dick Dale, 2000
Greg Allman, 1998
Dickey Betts, 2001

…with hundreds more to come

Leave a Reply