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Members include Chad Kroeger, vocals, guitar; Mike Kroeger, bass; Ryan Peake, guitar; Ryan Vikedal, drums. Addresses: Record company--Roadrunner Records, 902 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, NY 10010, website: http://www.roadrunnerrecords.com. Website--Nickelback Official Website: http://www.nickelback.com.
The rock group Nickelback started as an indie metal band in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, before breaking into the mainstream music scene in the United States and Canada in 2000. The band's first hit single, "Leader of Men," spent 13 weeks on the American rock chart's top ten, winning over grunge-rock listeners and establishing Nickelback as a newcomer to watch. With grinding guitar riffs and emotionally charged lyrics, the band's music reminded many of the popular rock groups Creed and Bush. Its 2001 release, Silver Side Up, debuted at number two on the American charts and at number one on the Canadian charts, fueled by the success of the hit single "How You Remind Me."
Nickelback traces its roots to the small Canadian town of Hanna, population 3,000, in the province of Alberta. It was here that the band's leader and vocalist, Chad Kroeger, grew up with his older brother and bandmate, bassist Mike Kroeger. As boys, the Kroeger brothers met guitar player Ryan Peake, who moved to Hanna from a town called Brooks when he was in the sixth grade. Ryan Vikedal, who became the band's drummer, was a friend of Peake's from Brooks.
In rural Hanna, about two-and-a-half hours east of Calgary, most young men looked toward a future in farming or coal mining. But the Kroeger brothers dreamed of a life in rock 'n' roll. Mike took his bass guitar to Vancouver, British Columbia, a ten-hour drive from Hanna; there he started playing with heavy-metal bands. Not long afterward, Chad and Peake borrowed $4,000 and set off to join him. With the Kroeger brothers' cousin Brandon Kroeger on the drums, Nickelback was born.
The band independently recorded its first album, the seven-song EP Hesher, in early 1995. In December of the same year, they followed up with the full-length independent CD Curb. Without a lot of help from publicists, the band members promoted the CD themselves, calling or stopping in at music stores to make sure they carried Curb, and to make sure they restocked the CD when it sold out. And sell out it did. Their single "Fly" became a hit on Vancouver radio, with the rock station CFOX naming it their most-played song. At the Pacific Music Industry Awards, Curb received a nomination for Album of the Year--Independent Distribution.
Charged with the success of their first album, Nickelback took a loan of $30,000 and set out to record a second full-length album at Greenhouse Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia. But before they could get started, drummer Brandon Kroeger left the group. To replace him, Peake called on his childhood friend Ryan Vikedal, and the band was back in business.
More changes came while the group recorded its second album. The band broke relations with its management and decided to handle the business end of the music themselves. "[The managers] weren't really helping us at the time," Chad told Canadian Musician. "They were going through problems themselves, and that's why we actually let them go, right when we were recording the record, because we all kind of thought that we could do a pretty good job on our own, and, well, we did just fine." Nickelback released the album--an indie recording of The State--in January of 1999. With no record label and no management, they handled every aspect of the business--from promotion and marketing to distribution and booking--themselves. Chad, who had once held jobs in advertising, talked up the album to radio station program directors. Mike handled distribution, dealing directly with local music stores, and Peake oversaw the band's website.
Through these grassroots efforts, Nickelback managed to sell 10,000 copies of the album in Canada. When their single "Leader of Men" became a favorite on Vancouver radio, the album sailed to the top of local indie charts. Clinching The State's success was a West Coast Music Award for Best Independent Album. Word about the album--and radio airtime for its hit single--began to spread throughout the country as Canadian metal fans discovered the band.
It wasn't long before the big record labels took notice of Nickelback. Courted by the top names in the industry, the band signed with EMI Music Canada. Yet looking south to the bigger market in America, they resisted big-name prestige and chose to sign with a small company--Roadrunner Records. Known for its success with "Nu-metal" bands like Sepultura, Coal Chamber, and Slipknot, Roadrunner promised to make a name for Nickelback in the States. "We felt a lot of enthusiasm coming from Roadrunner," Mike Kroeger said in an interview with the Rocknworld website. "They were really into it. You know to be honest with you, the big labels, they were interested, they had their pocketbooks out, but we didn't feel the sincerity we got from Roadrunner. They were genuinely interested in making us break America."
The first step for the band was to rerelease The State on the Roadrunner label in March of 2000. By summertime, "Leader of Men" had hit the top ten on the mainstream American rock charts. Another single, "Breathe," followed suit, while "Old Enough" climbed to the top 20. To keep up the momentum, Nickelback kicked off a 200-show tour, playing alongside such bands as Creed, 3 Doors Down, and Fuel. "It was fantastic," Peake recalled in comments included on the band's official website. "The snowball effect of the album was phenomenal. We started doing well in Canada, and then the buzz in the States took over. It totally went off the hook and was a great kickstart for us!"
Holding on to their moment in the spotlight, Nickelback recorded their album Silver Side Up in 2001. Propelled by the success of the album's first single, "How You Remind Me," Silver Side Updebuted at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart and at number one on the Canadian charts. Written on the heels of a breakup between Chad and a girlfriend, "How You Remind Me" struck a chord for listeners with their own broken romances. In fact, the single had such widespread appeal that it crossed over from rock to pop, surprising the musicians who created it. "This crossover stuff is scary," Peake told MTV.com. "We're a rock band; we've always been a rock band. Pop radio never touched anything we did until this song. We didn't sit down and say, 'We're going to write a crossover hit.' We just wrote a Nickelback song."
Yet the exposure of a crossover hit only helped the band. By November of 2001, Silver Side Up was selling 130,000 copies per week and earned triple-platinum record sales in January of 2002. Other singles from the album--such as "Too Bad" and "Never Again"--gained airplay. Nickelback promoted the album with another tour, and the band wrapped up 2001 as a solid presence in mainstream rock.
by Wendy Kagan
Group formed in Vancouver, Canada, early 1990s; released debut EP Hesher on independent label, 1995; followed with full-length independent CD Curb, 1995; released second full-length independent CD, The State, 1999; signed with EMI Music Canada and with the U.S. label Roadrunner Records, 1999; rereleased The State under Roadrunner label, 2000; released Silver Side Up, 2001.
West Coast Music Award (Canada), Best Independent Album, 1999.
- Selected discography
- Hesher (independent release), 1995.
- Curb (independent release), 1995.
- The State Roadrunner, 2000.
- Silver Side Up Roadrunner, 2001.
April 4, 2004: Nickelback won awards for fan choice and group of the year at the 2004 Juno Awards. Source: Globe and Mail, April 5, 2004.
January 2005: Drummer Ryan Vikedal quit the band. Source: E! Online, www.eonline.com, January 27, 2005.
January 2005: It was announced that Ryan Vikedal, who has been the drummer for Nickelback since its debut album in 1996, left the band. Source: Globe and Mail, January 29, 2005.
- Boston Globe, November 23, 2001.
- Canadian Musician, October 1, 2000.
- "Bands A-Z: Nickelback," MTV, http://www.mtv.com/bands/az/nickelback/artist.jhtml (January 3, 2002).
- Nickelback Official Website, http://www.nickelback.com (January 7, 2002).
- "Sophomore: The 2nd Time is the Charm--Nickelback," Rocknworld, http://www.rocknworld.com/soph/2001/nb (January 3, 2002).
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