Page last updated at 09:39 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Meet the 'goofiest guys' in rock

by Emma Jones
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Nickelback
The Canadian band have been together since 1995.

Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake are seated in a recording studio in Vancouver, Canada, where their latest album, Dark Horse , is being mixed after five months of work.

"Every year we say we are not going to make an album in summer," Kroeger, the lead singer, says wistfully.

"Every year our friends are calling up and saying 'come to the lake', and we're like 'man, are you trying to kill me?'"

"And what do we do?" adds Peake, "we record this album in summer too."

You could find sympathy for the band - unless you know that their history of spending summers cooped up in a studio has so far netted them 30 million album sales worldwide.

Nickelback, who come from Hanna, Alberta, have been together since 1995.

As well as Chad Kroeger and Peake, the current line-up includes another Kroeger brother, Mike, and drummer Daniel Adair.

BBC News has had an exclusive play of Dark Horse, their sixth album, produced by Mutt Lange.

The South African has previously worked with Def Leppard, Bryan Adams, AC/DC and his estranged wife Shania Twain, and has a reputation for everything he touches turning to platinum.

That is when the records finally get released - he also has a reputation as a perfectionist.

"This is the fastest record Mutt has ever produced," Kroeger insists.

Chad Kroeger
When they first talked about doing the video like that, I was like, 'oh no, this is going to be really dumb'.
Chad Kroeger on the band's Rockstar video

"We had a deadline to get the album out this year. We were hustling him the whole time."

Lange's stamp is all over Dark Horse - from the vocal harmonies to the multi-layer guitars. It is the most polished record the band, once described as 'post-grunge ', have put out.

The first single, Gotta Be Somebody, is a traditional Nickelback up-tempo ballad, but much of the album is surprisingly heavy and even in the vein of 80s 'hair metal'.

The opening track, Something In Your Mouth starts off: "Gotta meet the hottie with the million dollar body..."

"Right from the start, Mutt wanted to rock," Kroeger recalls.

"I went to Switzerland to meet him and played him some of my ideas, and he just said, 'Hmmm, I think we want a rocker'. I was like, 'Oh no, those tunes were my A-game. What will I do now?'"

Perhaps the audience is expecting something heavier from Nickelback after the success of their last single, Rockstar.

The last release off their 2005 album, All the Right Reasons, Rockstar is one of the biggest-selling UK singles of 2008 - despite being released at the end of last year.

It never reached number one, but thanks to downloads and featuring in a TV furniture advert, it spent more than 35 weeks on the chart.

It's finally made them household names in the UK - until now, their biggest hit was 2002's How You Remind Me.

"We just had no idea that was going to happen," Peake says.

"But it brought us so many new fans, I think it really connected with people. Before, they may have thought we took ourselves too seriously."

Rockstar's success was in no small measure thanks to the video, featuring Kid Rock, Gene Simmons and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, but also members of the public mouthing lines like, "Cause we all just wanna be big rockstars, live in hilltop houses and drive fifteen cars".

Kid Rock and Chad Kroeger
Kid Rock was one of the many celebrities that starred in Rockstar.

"When they first talked about doing the video like that, I was like, 'Oh no, this is going to be really dumb'", Kroeger laughs.

"But then we really started enjoying it. It definitely showed us how to have a successful video - only be in for six seconds at the end.

"The song does have a certain reality because not everyone wants to be a star, but they have thought about having all those things in their life.

"We had so many other lines for that song," he adds.

"We were killing ourselves laughing about what we could put in, but we knew we couldn't release it."

With the band scheduled to tour the UK in May 2009, after signing a deal with events company Live Nation, can fans expect any rock star behaviour off Nickelback?

"I know someone who paid a roadie to throw their cellphone out of a hotel window," Peake admits, slightly sheepishly, "He just wanted to know what it felt like."

No wonder they describe themselves as "four of the most normal, goofiest guys around", and this lack of pretension, coupled with power ballads and Chad Kroeger's long blond hair, has often consigned them to "chick rock" status.

But with bands like Guns 'n' Roses and AC/DC back on the public radar and selling millions of albums, Nickelback may benefit.

Plus, the Times newspaper recently published an article suggesting that rock music traditionally sells better during an economic downturn.

"Sales of alcohol and loud music will always go up when people are depressed," shrugs Kroeger, while his bandmate adds: "It's always a cycle with music.

"Rap was huge for a while, and it will be again. You're only as good as your last album. But yeah, rock is back and that's good news.

"Does that mean we're cool now?" Kroeger asks, with a laugh.

Dark Horse is on release in the UK now.



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SEE ALSO
Nickelback sign Live Nation deal
08 Jul 08 |  Entertainment
Driving ban for Nickelback singer
02 May 08 |  Entertainment
Nickelback lead Canadian awards
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