SALT LAKE CITY — Nickelback is one of the most disliked musical acts today.
And they’ve got 50 million in worldwide album sales to prove it.
Actually, the Canadian hard rock quartet over the past 15 years have become one of the most commercially successful acts of any musical genre. From 2001 through 2008, they released four consecutive albums that all achieved multi-platinum success.
Yet, despite their achievements that few bands will ever be able to match, they made headlines last November when an online petition was started in Detroit asking the NFL to pick someone else to perform during halftime of the Lions’ annual nationally televised Thanksgiving Day game. The petition was actually able to garner tens of thousands of signatures.
So Nickelback responded in the most effective way they knew how….by making a short movie for the Will Ferrell-founded satirical website Funny or Die.
In the truly classic (and very funny) 2:36 clip, band members Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Daniel Adair and Ryan Peake are seen holding an emergency meeting to figure out how to make the people of Detroit like them. They decide to impersonate Detroit “icons” and in the final scene dress up like Tom Selleck’s Magnum P.I., Dave Coulier of Full House, Alice Cooper and RoboCop.
When Funny or Die approached Nickelback about the idea, they instantly said yes.
“They contacted us. I mean obviously they saw that the silliness involved and they were like, ‘Come on we have to make fun of this on a global scale. You know, using the Internet’ and it was, you know, it was great to be able to do it,” lead singer Chad Kroeger said in a teleconference call at the start of their current tour, which ironically was in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “I would do that again in – or, you know, anything even like that in a heartbeat because we love self-deprecating humor, you know, and contrary to popular belief we do not take ourselves seriously at all. I mean like it is – we are the biggest goof balls in the world. And we love, you know, all that stuff. I mean we watch probably more comedy than anything else as a group.”
In fact, in the two times I’ve interviewed members of Nickelback, I’ve come away with the same impression each time…they’re nice guys. They come off as the kind of group you could sit down in a bar with and enjoy a beer while watching a hockey game on TV.
As for the public debate whether Nickelback is a good, blue collar rockin’ band or a wart on the musical industry, the band members themselves aren’t worried about it, and they think their fans shouldn’t worry too much about defending them either.
“You appreciate your fans…. But I always, I hate seeing the people descend – the people in blogs. And arguing in blogs, or I shouldn’t say blogs, in comment sections after some article or something. It just seems so futile,” Peake said. “It’s just – I just feel – I feel bad. 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. You’re never going to win that. It’s like – it makes me a little uncomfortable but it’s obviously flattering that we’ve got people that are willing to stick their neck out for you. So that’s cool.”
On their current tour, Nickelback is showing some love for their fans by putting on the biggest stage production they’ve ever done.
“I just don’t think this even compares to anything we’ve done before. This is – it’s so over the top,” Kroeger said. “We’ve got this flying stage that comes down and picks us up. And takes us across the arena and starts spinning. And we were in pre-production for I don’t know – a week to ten days – just practicing everything, knowing where we’re supposed to stand, so, you know, one of our legs doesn’t get blown off.”
The massive stage production also has a giant digital screen that breaks into six sections, as well as conveyer belts that transport the band from one side of the stage to the other.
Nickelback and their giant stage production arrive at the Energy Solutions Arena on Tuesday. They’re touring in support of their latest album, Here and Now.
In a recent interview I did with Matthias Jabs, lead guitarist of the Scorpions, he mentioned Nickelback as one of the few bands around today that he believed could carry the rock torch after the Scrops and other bands of that era bow out.
Look for my interview with Matthias later this week. He addressed the question of whether Monday really will be the last time the Scropions are ever in Utah, or if this “farewell” tour will go the way of KISS and Ozzy Osbourne?