It’s good to be a member of Nickelback: The Canadian rock group has America’s No. 1 pop song with “How You Remind Me,” which also has topped Billboard’s modern rock and mainstream rock tracks charts for three straight months, and its second Roadrunner album, “Silver Side Up,” is already platinum (sales of more than 1 million copies).
Honestly, did they expect this level of success in such a weak U.S. economy? No way, says guitarist Ryan Peake.
“This has been such a pleasant surprise for us,” he said recently. “You always dream that something like this would happen, but when it does, it’s really tough to wrap your head around it. We’re definitely enjoying the ride for now.”
It looks to be a long ride. There are other singles waiting in the wings, and the Vancouver-based quartet will be touring till the lights go out.
That’s fine with Peake, singer-guitarist Chad Kroeger, bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Ryan Vikedal. They’re just glad to be in the game: “Silver Side Up” was released on Sept. 11, a day on which many albums understandably fell by the wayside.
“We didn’t even realize until dinnertime that our album was released that day,” Mike Kroeger said, “because there was so much going on that day, and we were on tour as well. So we were like, ‘We’ve got to play a show tonight, oh, no!’ “
While all the country stopped and was glued to televisions, Nickelback and the band it was opening for, 3 Doors Down, went on with their show at the Pennsylvania State Fair in York.
“It was 3 Doors Down’s call,” Kroeger said. “It was like two points they made, that maybe the people have had enough negativity and … maybe we should just give them something positive for the day. They’ve been disappointed enough. It was a very emotional show. It was at the state fair, man. That’s as all-American as it gets. There were a lot of patriots in the house that night, all 15,000 of them.”
The band’s unexpected success last year with its Roadrunner debut LP, “The State,” set the stage for “Silver Side Up.” Rock fans embraced “The State’s” anthematic tracks “Leader of Men,” “Breathe” and “Old Enough,” leaving them wanting more.
Nickelback easily could have folded under the pressure (like so many bands before it), but Peake says they were up to the challenge.
“We just wanted to keep growing from the last effort,” he said. “The sophomore pressures were already gone because, for us, ‘The State’ was our sophomore album – it was our second release in Canada. We had more money and more time for this record, which we believe was pretty conducive to creativity.”
They may have had more time, but they didn’t waste any of it. With veteran producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, Blind Melon) at the helm, the band recorded “Silver Side Up” in just five weeks at Green House studios in Vancouver.
“We make sure we have our (act) together in pre-production so that there is virtually no time wasted in the studio with unfinished lyrics or song structures,” Peake said. “This way works great for us because when you have between 90 and 100 percent of the song done, then there is more time to experiment and change things if the song doesn’t translate to tape. Basically, if you have a plan going in to the studio, it gives you a little more flexibility in the end.”
And that, in the end, gives them more time to concentrate on perfecting their live performances and improving their stamina on the road.
So, now that Nickelback has scored the biggest hit song in Roadrunner’s history, how will Peake spend his royalties?
“Christmas is coming, so we’ll see.”
THE FIRST RECORD I EVER BOUGHT: “CCR’s ‘Greatest Hits.’ I don’t think I realized how good the album really was until later in life. Their cover of ‘Good Golly Miss Molly’ was extremely cool.”
THE FIRST CONCERT I EVER WENT TO: “Iron Maiden with Guns N’ Roses opening. It was the Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour, and Guns N’ Roses was touring ‘Appetite for Destruction.’ It was in ’88 at the Saddledome in Calgary. Axl Rose got in a fight with a guy right next to me, and I got pretty high from all the pot smoke around. Definitely a good night.”
THE WORST JOB I’VE EVER HAD: “Washing high-rise buildings. Pressure washing standing on a 2-by-6 plus a tiny safety strap plus 14 stories off the ground equals time to quit.”
THE ONE ARTIST I WOULD PAY TO SEE: “Lyle Lovett. He is a fantastic songwriter/musician. Very cool sense of humor as well. If you like interesting songwriting, he’s your guy.”
ON THE WEB: www.nickelback.com. Other fan sites – Breathe (www.breathe.20m.com), Nickelback By Nickel Kittie (www.nickelback.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk).