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Nickelback ignores the haters, ready to rock Thanksgiving in Detroit

for Journal Register Newspapers

Posted: Thursday, November 24, 2011

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It's fair to say that Nickelback has taken the controversy surrounding its performance at the Detroit Lions' United Way halftime show on Thanksgiving Day with a grain of salt.

Some in its camp even calls it, off the record, "silly."

But suffice to say this is a group that's used to taking its lumps.

Despite worldwide album sales of 50 million copies -- which will jump with this week's release of the new "Here and Now" -- and a durable string of 17 Billboard chart hits, the Canadian quartet has taken a pummeling from the hip side of the rock world, and particularly from the critics. And at this point, frontman and chief songwriter Chad Kroeger says, there are simply some audiences Nickelback no longer worries about pleasing -- including the reported 50 to 75,000 who signed the online petition to remove the band from the Lions game.

"I think when we started off we actually used to pay a little bit of attention to that," says Kroeger, 37, who formed the band during 1995 in Hanna, Alberta, with his brother Mike on bass and guitarist Daniel Peake. Drummer Daniel Adair joined in 2005. "We used to sort of think to ourselves, 'Geez, will any of our critics ever enjoy our music?'

"And we just accepted that it's like, 'Nope. We are never going to be one of those bands. We're never gonna be the critics' darlings. And we're OK with that."

More than OK, actually, when the group members consider the audience they've built over the years, including a Detroit area following strong enough for it to sell out three shows here -- one at Joe Louis Arena and two at the DTE Energy Music Theatre -- when it last toured in 2009

"Our fans are great to us," Kroeger says. "They go out and buy our records and they come and see us play, and what more could you ask if you're gonna be in a band? We don't take them for granted. We're very happy to be in a band that's at this point in our career, and we just want to keep going."

"Here and Now," which drops on Monday, Nov. 21, certainly seems to be headed in a forward direction. Nickelback released two singles from the set simultaneously; the hard-rocking "Bottoms Up" is already a Top 5 Hot Mainstream Rock track, while the more melodic, socially conscious "When We Stand Together," is Top 15 on the Adult Top 40 chart and has been No. 1 on iTunes' Rock chart since late September.

The dual singles approach is unusual, but it speaks to the cross-genre appeal that's also part of Nickelback's success story.

"(The album) is all over the map," explains Kroeger, "so due to the schizophrenic nature of the record, it was just impossible to put out one song that was going to represent the whole album. So we put out a good party, drinking anthem, 'Bottoms Up,' as our first rock single, and 'When We Stand Together' as one that would be played on lighter formats.

"We haven't painted ourselves into a corner, writing-wise, or pigeonholed ourselves. We're stretching the envelope in both directions because that's what we're able to do."

"Here and Now's" release will keep Nickelback busy during the coming weeks. Besides the Thanksgiving Day game, the group performs Tuesday, Nov. 22, on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and also plays at halftime of the 99th Grey Cup Canadian Football League championship game on Nov. 27 in Vancouver. And the group will tape an appearance on the "WWE Tribute to the Troops," airing Dec. 13 on USA and Dec. 17 on NBC.

A full-scale tour will not happen until the spring of 2012, however. "We're trying to go a few singles deep, possibly three or four, before we go out," Kroeger says. "We want to make sure there's familiarity. We don't want to be that band that everybody comes to hear all their favorites, and when there's a new one they all run up to the concourse to get a beer."

The group will hit the road during April in North America, then spend the summer in Australia, the Pacific Rim and Japan, September and October in Europe and a possible North American repeat towards the end of the year. Other territories are on the docket for 2013, and Kroeger expects Nickelback to spend the better part of two years on the road.

"We've already had a few meetings with our (stage) designer," Kroeger says. "We've talked about everything under the sun, and the possibilities seem to be endless depending on how much we want to spend on it. It's something that everybody who plays in arenas has to go through, and we usually figure it out pretty well. We haven't had too many complaints over the years, y'know?"

Nickelback performs at the United Way Thanksgiving Halftime Show on Thursday, Nov. 24, during the Detroit Lions game at Ford Field.

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