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 took a shot at Nickelback. Keys drummer Patrick Carney said "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.
2000 The State
2001 Silver Side Up
2003 The Long Road
2005 All The Right Reasons
2008 Dark Horse
2011 Here And Now
Since "All The Right Reasons" Nickelback has had the problem of following one multi-platinum album with another. "Here & Now" is a stark example of how they do it. First, the album opens with fierce power-driven "This Means War." It's not so much a song as a mission statement. That's followed by the more pop-oriented yet cheeky "Bottoms Up." Backing off even further there's the soft-Rock "When We Stand Together." Basically, they repeat the cycle with "Midnight Queen," "Kiss It Goodbye" and "Don't Ever Let It End." They throw in a couple ballads, "Lullaby" and "Trying Not To Love You" which is as good as anything coming out of Nashville.
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."
Their ace this time around was landing a frontline producer, namely the legendary Mutt Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shaina Twain). Add a solid collection of songs ranging from kick-ass Rock to arena ballads with an ode to a hooker ("Shakin' Hands") thrown in for good measure. Put it all together and "Dark Horse" is a killer effort.
"Gotta Be Somebody" is accessible, lyrical and melodic and so is the song that it replaced as the album's lead single, "If Today Was Your Last Day," a mid-tempo track with acoustic embellishments. "Burn It To The Ground" and "Next Go Around" drive hard with the latter employing an amped-up Van Halen style. With the line "hold you 'til the hurt is gone," "Never Gonna Be Alone" is the album's mainstream ballad. "Shakin' Hands" and "S.E.X." (yes, yes) have a more base approach. The album closes with "This Afternoon." Tone down the guitars and Shania Twain (a Country great, thanks largely to her ex-husband Mutt) could have a comeback Country hit. But it sounds better as a rough-edge Nickelback song.
"All The Right Reasons" is another great CD. The set starts with a pair of chunky Rockers, "Follow You Home" and "Fight For All The Wrong Reasons." "Photograph," an arena Rocker if ever there was one comes next. Easy to see why it was a single. On "Savin' Me" and "Far Away" the group shows a softer (acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies) but no less effective side. The album moves into high gear with the hard edged "Animals," "Next Contestant," "Someone That You're With" and the ode to "Dimebag" Darrell, "Side Of A Bullet."
"If Everyone Cared" is a Rock ballad anthem and another sure-fire concert favorite. The album closes with "Rock Star," a stark view of life in Hollywood where "girls come easy and the drugs come cheap." Sounds tough.
"The Long Road" has "Flat On The Floor," a scorcher driven by a brilliant guitar line. "Feelin' Way Too Damn Good" and "Because Of You" are dense, hard charging Rockers. Chad Kroeger's lyrics look at the world from the down side ("something's gotta go wrong cuz I'm feeling too damn good") but he doesn't dwell on it. There's more energy than pain. And that's good. Even the radio friendly "Someday," a mid-tempo ballad, has some punch. The only misstep is a cover of Elton John's "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting). Nickelback is up for kickin' it out but the song's structure works against them. But it's a "bonus track" so it's no big deal. Bottom line: The album carried Nickelback for some time.
"The State" CD earned the attention it got. The group plies its accessible-alternative sound to good advantage on "Breathe" and the slower "Leader of Men." "Silver Side Up" with "How You Remind Me" shows Kroeger's songwriting development; more focused and complete. Nickelback's Canadian debut "Curb" is OK but this group has improved significantly since then. Get "Silver Side Up" and "The State" first.