Nickelback Biography

PHOTO: Nickelback

Nickelback is a Canadian band originally formed by the Kroeger brothers (Chad, Mike and their cousin Brandon) and Ryan Peake in Hanna, Alberta. Chad played guitar and sang, Mike played bass, Brandon played drums, and Peake was on guitar. The band is commonly referred to as playing post-grunge rock, in reference to its roots in and influences from Seattle grunge in the early 1990s. However the jagged rawness of early Nirvana and Pearl Jam is missing in this band’s later pop-accented offerings. The band is now based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Chad Kroeger was born Chad Robert Turton, to parents Wendall ‘Windy’ Turton and Debbie Kroeger. Windy Turton was a “badass”, according to Chad, who was a 6-foot-3 260-pounder and enjoyed getting into fights and punch-ups. He left the home when Chad was two, leaving Debbie to raise Chad and his half-brother, Mike Kroeger. Chad later adopted his mother’s maiden name.

They had a troubled childhood, as Chad was alternately in “juvie” and on the run from the police. His mother was in a rehabilitation programme when he was 14. He sold drugs and stole trucks, shoplifted for food and Metallica concerts, witnessed a suicide and had to testify in court in relation to a murder across the road. Hanna was a blue-collar oil town with less than 3 000 people and not much else. The Kroeger brothers formed a cover band called The Village Idiots for want of something to do, and played Led Zeppelin and Metallica covers.

When the band moved out west to Vancouver, things weren’t much better. Chad got a job selling seafood door-to-door; he then put his enterprising instincts to good use by conning his way into leasing a five bed-room house, which he then rented out to college students. Apart from being a “slumlord”, he was also a telemarketer, “sucking money out of poor old ladies”.
Chad then convinced his stepfather to lend him $4 000 to cut their first demo (eventually becoming ‘Hesher’ [1996]), although he admits that he skimmed off $1 000 to buy magic mushrooms and re-sell them at a profit. They later changed their name to Nickelback, and recorded their first album, ‘Curb’ (1996). Soon after ‘Curb’, Brandon left the band, to be replaced by Mitch Guindon. Guindon stayed only a little while, and was replaced by Ryan Vikedal. ‘The State’ (1998) was then released under an independent label, which sold enough copies to get the band signed to the major metal label, Roadrunner Records and EMI. ‘The State’ was then re-released in 2000 by Roadrunner and EMI.

‘Silver Side Up’ (2001) broke the band into the big time, with their huge hit, ‘How You Remind Me’, an emotionally introspective, self-contemptuous song about a break-up. The song spent four weeks at Number 1 in the US, was the Most Played Song of 2002, and Chad has described it as “our ‘Hotel California’, our ‘Stairway to Heaven’.” The album sold over 6 million copies in the US alone. Critics panned the album for being unoriginal, ripping off the content of early Seattle grunge, but without any of its honesty or rawness.

Undeterred, the band released ‘The Long Road’ (2003) two years later. Its lead single was ‘Someday’, a song which has been accused of sounding very much like the band’s previous mega-hit ‘How You Remind Me’. A college student and musician in Alberta, Mikey Smith even put the two songs together (albeit with a little editing) to show how well they mirrored each other, resulting in the facetious Frankenstein-ed ‘How You Remind Me of Someday’. The Boston Phoenix called Nickelback “the worst band in the history of music”, while Allmusic.com called them “unspeakably awful”. However the band had the last laugh, the album selling nearly 3.5 million copies in the US and 5 million overall.

‘The Long Road’ (2003) turned out to be drummer Vikedal’s last album. Former 3 Doors Down sticksman Daniel Adair replaced Vikedal on the band’s next album, ‘All The Right Reasons’ (2005). This turned out to be Nickelback’s most successful album yet, and has sold nearly 7 million copies as of late 2008. The album featured a cover of Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’, as well as a tribute to the late great Pantera and Damageplan guitarist, ‘Dimebag’ Darrell Abbott (Abbott was shot and killed onstage by a crazed fan in Columbus, Ohio in 2004). ‘Side of a Bullet’ was the album’s 7th single and featured a guitar solo by Dimebag from his Pantera days, and was used with the blessing and cooperation of Dimebag’s brother and Pantera/Damageplan drummer, Vinnie Paul.

‘All The Right Reasons’ (2005) also featured a guest appearance by legendary country rock band ZZ Top’s guitarist, Billy Gibbons – he recorded a solo for the song ‘Follow You Home’, and contributed backing vocals to ‘Rock Star’. ‘Rock Star’ itself was an interesting take on the lifestyle of a rock star, and it was difficult to tell whether Kroeger was ironically poking fun at rock’s great excesses ("I want a brand new house on an episode of Cribs” – Kroeger had already been featured on MTV Cribs, a programme that takes the viewers into celebrities’ homes), or whether it was a genuine, sincere, possibly self-analytical narrative (“I'd even cut my hair and change my name” – Kroeger did in fact change his name). Whatever it was, the single did remarkable well on the charts, and its accompanying music video featured a host of big names lip-syncing lines, including Gibbons himself, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., Gene Simmons, Kid Rock, Eliza Dushku, Jerry Cantrell, Nelly Furtado, and Ted Nugent.

Nickelback then recorded their fifth studio album, ‘All The Right Reasons’ (2005) with the famed rock producer Mutt Lange (AC/DC, Def Leppard). It had the radio wallpapered song ‘Rockstar’ which nevertheless was a great song, with witty lyrics and an innovative video. But when it gets played from dawn to dusk, and sold to every advertiser possible, the patience wanes.
Their last album to date was ‘Dark Horse’. Their critics kept sniping but Nickelback keep on singing.

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