Two cents from Nickelback

  • Article by: JON BREAM , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 21, 2012 - 9:11 AM

The century's biggest-selling rock band sounds off on critics, fans and Wednesday's show at Target Center.

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Nickelback is bringing its flashiest tour ever, but “at the end of the day, dude, they’re still coming to hear the tunes,” say Ryan Peake, left, and Chad Kroeger.

Photo: Timothy Hiatt, Getty Images

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Nickelback is all about sex, drugs and bad reviews. Actually, make that sexist lyrics, drug references and being the band critics love to hate.

Go ahead, Mr. Critic, make fun of these Canadians. They're laughing all the way to the bank and Target Center, where they return Wednesday. Nickelback is the biggest-selling band of this century. They've collected royalties on more than 21 million albums sold in the United States alone. Could you turn on the radio in the past decade without hearing Nickelback's "How You Remind Me" or "Photograph"?

They've changed drummers about as often as Spinal Tap while giving the world such tunes as "Bottoms Up," which is about, duh, drinking, and "Something in Your Mouth," which is about, um, sex. Black Keys, the hip Grammy-winning blues-rock duo, ripped Nickelback in Rolling Stone magazine in January, and naysayers collected more than 75,000 signatures last fall in an online petition asking the NFL to cancel Nickelback's halftime performance at the Packers-Lions game on Thanksgiving Day.

It's not easy being loved so voraciously and hated so vehemently at the same time. But Nickelback lead singer Chad Kroeger, 37, and guitarist Ryan Peake, 38, don't take themselves too seriously.

Oh, they're serious about amping up the special effects for their tour. However, in an hourlong teleconference with several journalists after the opening show on the trek, they came across as a couple of dudes who don't worry about being hip.

Q Tell us about the new tour.

Kroeger: I just don't think this even compares to anything we've done before. This is so over the top. We've got this flying stage that comes down and picks us up and takes us across the arena and starts spinning. It's just absolute insanity. You know, we've got this massive screen. It splits apart in six different sections.

Q In this day and age, do you feel you have to keep giving fans more and more just to keep them interested?

Kroeger: I guess the mind-set that I've always had is I try to give bigger, bigger, bigger, better, better, more, more -- everything. ... In this day and age and everybody seeing everything on YouTube and everyone's been to Vegas before and everyone's seen every gag before, it's kind of tough to be able to bring something new. But then I'll turn to Ryan and Ryan will be like: "At the end of the day, dude, they're still coming to hear the tunes."

Q Is there material you're doing on this tour that you expect will grow as you keep doing it live?

Kroeger: My jokes get better.

Q Do you guys pay attention to the other three bands performing with you and feel a need to compete with them?

Kroeger: If we were opening, we would get out there and definitely have that in mind. Now I just want to perform the songs to the best of my ability and, you know, I want to get off the stage without being hooked up to a defibrillator.

Q In the studio, are you conscious of not repeating yourself or trying to break new ground?

Kroeger: I think the only conscious thing we really pay attention to in the studio is, like, "OK, we've got this melodic song out of us. I think it's time for a rock song." And then we just sit there and try to write a rock riff. ... Sometimes we go way, way down the rabbit hole in the wrong direction. And we have to stop and, you know, turn around and come back and try some different rabbit holes.

Q You guys were laughing a bit ago about the rough ride that you get from the music establishment. Does that cold-shoulder treatment rally your fan base behind you even more?

Kroeger: Yes, I get a sense of that. I think when the whole thing was going on with the petition and the NFL was calling us twice a day going: "Omigod! We're so happy. The viewership just went up by 15 million," there was this huge rallying of the fans [saying] "We feel bad." We're like, "Hey, hey, it's OK. We don't care. We don't care."

Peake: It's obviously flattering that we've got people that are willing to stick their neck out for you. But I always hate seeing the people descend [into] arguing in blogs or in comment sections after some article. It just seems so futile. It's like: "You know what? Just leave it alone." That's a war you're never going to win. It's like having a war on jealousy.

Q Chad, in recent years your hair's gotten shorter and darker. What's up with that?

Kroeger: You sound like my dad. I think he's the only one on the planet that's unhappy with my new haircut. "I don't know, son, I liked it longer." You know, my mom's ecstatic about my new haircut. But I tried to buck this trend as long as I possibly could. And in case you hadn't noticed, Nickelback does not follow trends whatsoever. Now all the hipsters are growing their hair long and, you know, I don't really want to do that, so. ... I don't see any skinny jeans and thick horn-rimmed glasses in my future anytime soon, either.

Q You've sold more albums than any other band in this century. Do you think Nickelback will get into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Kroeger: I don't think they'll let us in. Well, 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. And the only Grammy that we would ever win would be lifetime achievement award -- thanks for sticking around longer than anyone else. No, I'm obviously just making a joke. I have no idea. And if we were ever [inducted into the Hall of Fame], I'll definitely be there regardless of what Ryan thinks.

Follow Bream on Twitter: @jonbream

  • NICKELBACK

    Opening: Bush, Seether, My Darkest Days.

    When: 6 p.m. Wed.

    Where: Target Center, 600 1st Av. N., Mpls.

    Tickets: $50-$92.50; 1-800- 982-2787; ticketmaster.com.

    Web: nickelback.com.

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