And their induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame this 12 months … their present well-attended arena tour … their 50 million worldwide album gross sales … and the most-played tune on U.S. radio within the 2000s — the ever present earworm “How You Remind Me.”
Which, perhaps, is why you hate them. But Canada doesn’t.
People have been hanging off lampposts, singing their hearts out and stacked to impassable three blocks deep Friday for the Toronto gig, attempting to glimpse the band (who hail from the farm city of Hanna, Alberta).
“I was blown away,” guitarist Ryan Peake informed The Washington Post from a resort suite whereas grinding out interviews attempting to promote the doc, which doesn’t have distribution but. Really? A band with 12 consecutive sold-out excursions didn’t anticipate an enormous crowd? “I’m not trying to be, ‘Eh, we don’t know if we’re popular.’ I just never take that for granted so I was like, ‘Gosh, I hope people come.’”
“Every time we put anything on sale or make an album or a song, we hope people like it and check it out. But we never presume they are,” added bassist Mike Kroeger, brother to lead singer Chad Kroeger, who was a prepared participant of the documentary however wasn’t made accessible for interviews.
When Janice James, a 60 year-old retiree who has seen the band eight occasions in particular person, heard they’d be in Toronto, she dropped all different plans. Her favourite half was the band exhibiting up on the premiere Q&A — “Just being that close to them,” she stated. “I saw them when they were like a really small band, and I’ve always loved them. Chad looks like my son, and I just think he’s an amazing songwriter.”
A outstanding variety of younger individuals have been there, too, together with Will Caruna, a 24 year-old Torontonian who was carrying a T-shirt lined with photos of Chad’s face. “I heard them on the radio growing up, and then that sort of becomes a soundtrack of childhood,” he stated. “Honestly, their music makes me happy. They get me through the day.”
Love for Nickelback appears virtually unimaginable to think about if you have been round within the early 2000s. It was the arrival of cellphones and social media and “Survivor,” and Nickelback was getting extra airplay than any band on the planet, together with The Beatles. (Their 2005 album, “All the Right Reasons,” produced seven singles and is among the best-selling albums within the United States of all time, and that’s after Napster.) Consider them pioneers in web backlash, raking in cash because the insults simply piled on from the many individuals who didn’t like their songs however couldn’t escape them.
The band grew to become a punchline for all the pieces mediocre and uncool. A joke from comic Brian Posehn about how Nickelback made him want to commit violence — towards Nickelback — grew to become a promo that ran for six months on Comedy Central on the top of Jon Stewart’s internet hosting “The Daily Show,” primarily making a rallying cry for hipsters to rag on this rock band for normies. (Chad stated in a 2022 Barstool Sports interview that he thinks that’s when the hate cycle started.) Memes, additionally a brand new factor, started dropping — Nickelback needed for crimes towards music, a rubber band with the caption “still a better band than Nickelback.” Arnold Schwarzenegger did a video itemizing all of the issues that have been extra well-liked than Congress: cockroaches, herpes, Nickelback.
“The complaints against Nickelback aren’t unusual: ‘Their songs are formulaic.’ But I think sometimes people want to hear vacuous, dumb [stuff],” says Mike within the movie.
“It used to be really bad with the way it would make me feel,” says Chad within the movie. “We tried to laugh it off. You can laugh off about 90 percent of it, and some of it, it hurts.”
I’d been warned earlier than speaking to Ryan and Mike that they’ve been requested a lot about being hated that they discover it boring. (Chad sang, “Hallelujah!” throughout a Q&A when producer Ben Jones stated that he felt the movie would put an finish to these questions.)
“Oh, I don’t find that boring it all,” Ryan stated instantly after I introduced it up.
They have been tremendous speaking about it, as a result of they didn’t bear the brunt of it, like Chad, the face of the band and the one identify anybody knows. It was Chad, together with his very recognizable, some would say tacky, haircut, who had to cope with individuals shouting “F— Nickelback!” out their automotive home windows at him if they noticed him on the road.
“Having your band become a meme is kind of cool,” Mike stated. “How many times have our memes gone viral? You can’t even buy that.” But it’s the non-public assaults they’re not okay with. “[The haters] didn’t just dehumanize Nickelback; they dehumanized my brother,” Mike stated. “And they’re not really even people, just anonymous Twitter haters, so it’s like a monolith attacking a monolith, except, you know, it turns out my brother has feelings.”
Six years in the past, when the band commissioned director Leigh Brooks to begin filming them, they hadn’t deliberate on tackling the hate. They have been simply gathering footage for an digital press package for his or her “Feed the Machine” album, and perhaps so their youngsters may have a historical past of the band. But for it to grow to be a documentary, Brooks and Jones informed the blokes they’d have to handle it. The joke among the many band, stated Brooks, was “these are the guys we pay to run away from.” It took years of negotiation for Chad to agree to permit a few of his extra susceptible interviews within the movie.
The movie doesn’t go into element about the precise origins of the hate. It’s an in-house mission, which implies the band had last say over the edits. An exhaustively researched essay from Arun Starkey of Far Out Magazine contends that a lot of the hatred “is self-inflicted.” They’re working-class boys from middle-of-nowhere Alberta who skyrocketed to international fame from enjoying in punk golf equipment and empty rec halls, and Chad has stated some very dumb issues in interviews, like when he informed Playboy in 2012 that he drank a field of beers and then fellated himself. He’s been referred to as a misogynist for the songs he’s written (see: “Something in Your Mouth”).
Ryan and Mike say it began in 2005 with the discharge of “All the Right Reasons” capturing them into the stratosphere and has been just about nonstop ever since. There’s actually some validity to the tune content material criticisms. “References to the stripper anthems and the [oral sex] and the party songs being a little vacuous, I don’t think that’s wrong,” Mike says within the movie.
At first, the blowback got here from different musicians. They obtained signed to a metallic label, Roadrunner Records, as the only real mainstream rock guys. The animosity was immediate. Corey Taylor, frontman of the label’s different largest band, Slipknot, referred to as Chad “Shaggy from ‘Scooby-Doo.’”
They had seven singles off one album, so oftentimes on radio or MTV or grocery store loudspeakers, a Nickelback tune would finish, and perhaps you’d have a tiny break and one other Nickelback tune would come on. “You couldn’t turn the … channel and get away from us, so I get it,” stated Ryan.
In the movie, Ryan tells followers not to fear about sticking up for them. Off-camera, he’s extra involved about how hatred of Nickelback has been used as a tactic to disgrace followers, to scare them into not being open about their likes and dislikes for concern of recrimination. It’s been occurring for years. In 2012, an Occupy protester held up an indication saying, “Rahm Emanuel likes Nickelback” — primarily shorthand for saying the embattled then-mayor of Chicago was fully out of contact and has horrible style in music. Emanuel clarified in an email that he does not just like the band.
“It’s like, that’s the final straw. I do not like Nickelback,” stated Ryan.
“I shudder to think how many mass murderers we’ve had in our meet-and-greets, getting our picture taken with them,” stated Mike. “There has to be. Don’t you think?”
“I can just imagine the murderer saying, ‘I’m so sorry I took my picture with Nickelback,’” stated Ryan.
What does hate of that depth do to a band over time?
“I think it created a level of fear in our group of almost every decision,” Mike stated.
“Intense apprehension … ,” stated Ryan.
The largest casualty was print press. “Chad just stopped,” stated Ryan. This appears to have occurred after Ian Winwood wrote an article for Kerrang! entitled “Chad Kroeger, what a c—.”
“When you do a thing and every time you get smacked, you start going, ‘Hmm … maybe I shouldn’t do that,’” stated Mike.
But there’s additionally one thing coded within the hatred that’s being projected when somebody will get shamed for liking Nickelback. “I think it’s saying, ‘You’re lowbrow,’” stated Ryan. “We’ve kind of been tagged as a working-class, blue-collar band.”
“I mean, honestly, it’s kind of where we come from,” stated Mike.
They take it as a praise; it feels like saying they’re the individuals’s band. “My feeling is everyone’s welcome at a Nickelback show,” stated Ryan. “Chad’s line was like, ‘There’s lots of room on the bandwagon.’”
The actual crux of the hatred, stated Mike, is likely to be that individuals assume they’re just too unremarkable to be this ubiquitous. “I think there is an element to some of the vitriol that I think people look at us and they say, ‘Why these guys?’ You know, ‘Why should they be famous? Why should everybody like their music? Why do they deserve that?’” he stated. “‘They’re just regular guys. They don’t look like David Bowie. They’re not The Beatles. What makes them so special?’”
Recently, although, they’ve been feeling a thaw. “I feel like the teeth are kind of getting put away a bit,” stated Ryan.
Fellow Canadian Ryan Reynolds is one catalyst for that change, beginning with a scene in 2018’s “Once Upon a Deadpool” the place the superhero valiantly comes to the band’s protection. He additionally had the band cowl a tune for 2022’s “Spirited,” a Christmas film with Will Ferrell, and made a video singing their praises for his or her Hall of Fame induction. “I don’t know why he keeps sticking his neck out for us. I honestly don’t,” stated Ryan. “Because we’ve gone through a whole career and we’ve looked for other bands and famous people to say they like us, and nobody admits to liking us. But he did!”
Go to their exhibits, stated Jones, and you’ll discover an entire new demographic is there. They’ve seen “She Keeps Me Up,” a single that went nowhere in 2015, since blow up on Spotify after TikTok embraced it. When The Lottery Winners turned “Rockstar” right into a TikTok sea shanty, the band obtained in on the enjoyable and recorded one other video with them, which went viral. “I think it’s a younger generation going, ‘People hated these guys. I don’t get it,’” stated Mike. “They don’t get it because they didn’t live through it.”
Mike stated tickets for his or her 53-city North American tour, which appears to development towards pink and swing states comparable to Michigan, Virginia, Texas, Florida and Mississippi, are promoting effectively. They simply introduced they’re acting at Stagecoach for the primary time in April 2024, alongside Morgan Wallen, Post Malone and Diplo.
One concept for his or her resurgence is that the hate grew to become so mainstream that liking Nickelback really grew to become an act of defiance. “I feel like when more people started to hate them, I started to love them even more,” stated Abtin Masseratagah, a 28-year-old from Toronto who got here to the documentary premiere. “Me and my sister were like, ‘Yo, they’re sick.’”