Other than former NHL’er Lanny Macdonald, nobody has put Hanna, Alberta on the map like Nickelback. The difference is one of them has sold over 35 million albums worldwide, and still counting.
Formed in 1995 by the Kroeger brothers, the band’s name stems from Chad’s days working at a coffee shop, where he often told customers “Here’s your nickel back.” With his brothers Mike on bass and Brandon on drums, they added Ryan Peake on guitars and began playing the southern Alberta market.
Before long they were mainstays on the Calgary hard rock circuit, and moved to the west coast a year later, where they were soon captivating audiences there with their live energy while working on new material while honing their chops.
They booked some studio time and released their indie debut, HESHER in early ’96. The seven track EP was dominated with screaming vocals and heavy guitar riffs of post grunge and heavy metal influences, and a minor underground hit, but that was it sales-wise. Still, it got they got some higher profile gigs until later that year when they hired producer Larry Anschell to help out with some old and some new songs they’d written.
CURB was released in May of ’96 to much fanfare. Back from the debut and reworked were the band’s first single and video “Fly” (which only aired on MuchMusic), “Where,” “Window Shopper,” and “Left.”
1997 ended with Brandon, the younger Kroeger brother and drummer, to leave the band. The search ended, albeit briefly, when Mitch Guindon filled in until or a new drummer. In later 1997, Mitch Guindon join the band, but soon left to work in a car factory, which saw Ryan Vikedal join.
After signing a deal with EMI in ’98, they they released THE STATE that March. Their first overseas product, it found its way to Europe almost a year later. The album entered the Billboard 200 albums charts in position #130, it also entered the Billboard Top Heatseekers albums charts in position #3 in 2000, and spawned 4 singles, the top 10 lead-off cut “Breathe,” and then “Leader of Men” by the end of the year. When the record finally landed on Japan’s shores in the spring of ’01, it had two additional acoustic versions of “Leader of Men” and “”Little Friend.”
“Old Enough” and “Worthy To Say” followed suit, eventually certifying the album gold in the US. For the next year the band found itself sharing the stage with some of hottest bands on the scene, including Creed, SevenDust, and 3 Doors Down
They started 2001 out that spring by winning the Juno Award for Best New Group, just before the new album SILVER SIDE UP. Recorded at Greenhouse Studios in Vancouver, the smash lead single about spousal abuse “Never Again,” shot them up the charts. A re-worked version of “Just For,” formerly “Just Four” on the first EP continued their path while riding in tour buses and planes for the better part of a year, eventually selling upwards of 10 million copies worldwide.
After receiving a demo and on urge of other industry reps, Ron Burman of Roadrunner Records travelled to Vancouver, and after seeing them in a packed club, and recommended them to label brass, even though mainstream rock wasn’t the label’s forte. After finally convincing the powers that be it was a good move, he signed them to an overseas distribution deal. First order of business was re-releasing CURB in 2002, complete with the same tracklisting, but sporting a different cover.
That same year, “Spiderman” was in the movie theatres, complete with the smash theme song “Hero,” by Chad Kroeger and an ensemble of friends. Taking some time off from the hectic tour schedule, they released LIVE AT HOME, their first DVD that captured the usual live and behind the stage documentary material.
THE LONG ROAD, released in 2003 spawned five singles, starting with the five times platinum song, “Somday.” “Figured You Out,” which topped the Mainstream Rock Charts for 13 consecutive weeks, “See You at the Show,” “Feelin’ Way Too Damn Good” (#3 in the US and #1 in Canada), and “Because of You” followed suit.
Chad Kroeger found time in 2005 to start up his own record label, 604 Records, the same year ALL THE RIGHT REASONS was released. With new drummer Daniel Adair (formerly of 3 Doors Down) replacing the departed Ryan Videdal, the CDs, posters, and other parafanalia left the shelves just as fast as it arrived. It produced three US Hot 100 top 10 singles – “Photograph”, “If Everyone Cared” and “Rockstar.”
Singles number four and five – “Savin’ Me”, “Far Away” weren’t far behind, cracking the top 20. Three of these became U.S. Hot 100 top 10 singles. By that June, ATRR had sold over 7 million copies, and would eventually do 11 million. While still on the road in late 2006, they received an award at the World Music Awards for World’s Best Selling Rock Artist.
Produced with Mutt Lange in his Switzerland studio (AC/DC, Def Leppard, Shania Twain) over a few months starting in early 2008, Chad took the tapes to his converted-barn studio. The result was DARK HORSE, released that November. The first single “Gotta Be Somebody” was quickly followed up by “Something in Your Mouth” in time for the Xmas rush, where it reached #1 in Canada and the US, and #3 in the UK.
“If Today Was Your Last Day” was released as the third single, and a year after the record’s release it was still churning out hits while they toured the planet. The singles followed with “I’d Come for You”, “Burn It to the Ground” (WWE RAW’s theme song) and “Never Gonna Be Alone.”
By the end of the decade the band had naturally picked up its share of awards over the years, including twelve from over two dozen nominations at the Juno Awards, as well as seven awards from fifteen nominations at the MuchMusic Video Awards, a pair of nods out of six trys at the American Music Awards, and three awards from five nominations at the Billboard Music Awards. Although they’ve had their name in the hat six rounds at the Grammys, they’ve yet to come home with that paper weight.
And yet despite the accolades, sales and sell outs to argue the point, possibly no other hard rock band anywhere had gained the reputation as they had for being no less one-dimensional as AC/DC, while molding themselves into Canada’s answer to Guns n Roses – but in typical Canadian fashion – we don’t implode… as one of many critics called them. It had also been pointed out by others than many of the songs are actually the same, proven in mash ups. Still others gave them a rap as all too often sticking to formula instead of innovation
Yet they are bullet proof, and proved it by kicking off 2010 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics closing ceremony, performing “Burn It to the Ground”. Shortly after, “This Afternoon” became the record’s eighth single. In 2011, they played during halftime at the Grey Cup in Vancouver, and despite 50,000 people signing a petition against it, they also played in Detroit for the NFL’s Thanksgiving Day game between the Lions and Packers.