My history with Nickelback goes back to my Going Coastal days and a Canada Day Festival on Citadel Hill in Halifax. I’m gonna say this was 2003 so I had been interviewing bands for just under a year at this point. By then, Nickelback had become the biggest band in the world thanks to their album “Silver Side Up” (need I remind you of “How You Remind Me?). Already, the band was getting the “people hate Nickleback” questions a lot, but the difference between then and now was that it was still pretty new, and if you watch old interviews, it wasn’t rolling of their backs quite as easily as it has been rolling off these days.
I remember prepping for this interview in the pre-2005 Flintstones era of no YouTube and coming across an insane number of articles all focused on this idea that the most popular band in the world might also be the most hated. So of course I wanted to address this but I wanted to make sure that A. I wasn’t asking a stock question, and B. I wasn’t being a dick. I wanted to approach this is in a unique way, and by virtue of how cool and off the radar a show like Going Coastal was, I knew I could have fun with it. So having already introduced my wrestling hold called “The Mattlock” (get it) to Sam Roberts to some critical praise (from my sister) I thought this Nickleback interview would be a good time to whip it out again. “The Mattlock” has long since been retired, but for a minute is was the most badass wrestling hold by a music “journalist” in all of the land. It was basically a combination of a full nelson and leg scissors around the waist, the object: “see if you can escape”. So, on a mission, and armed with the Mattlock in my back pocket, I sauntered backstage with a beta cam on my shoulder, met the band, and started the interview and here’s what happened.
I got mid-way through the chat and worked my way up to the idea that despite their massive success, there seemed to be an overwhelming air of serious hatred for this band (they disagreed). Regardless, I suggested I could prove to all the haters that Nickelback were good guys. Chad tried to get out of the Mattlock, and believe me when I tell you that while his brother and security were not cool with this idea, Chad was. He obliged and he also goes down in history as the only musician to every escape the power of my wrestling hold. He humored me for a moment and then he did what any true wrestling heel (bad guy) would do, he played dirty; he grabbed my balls.
Long story, what’s the point Wells?
The point is that Nickelback, at least to me, have always been easy going and affable dudes. I may not dig the music, but the beauty of any music is in the eye (ear) of the beholder. Get past the trend that has permeated through music circles that “everyone” hates Nickelback and respect what these guys have accomplished. From a Canadian band that nobody wanted, to the band everyone in the world knows, this is an amazing success story and they are one of the few bands who seem to have the longevity that most musicians strive for. The reality is that the more popular a band becomes, the more hated them become. Bottom line. And it would seem that no band has ever faced that dichotomy more than Nickelback, but I would argue that because we live in a world so influenced by social media, when every single person in the world with a computer can publish an opinion, that the “I hate Nickleback” campaign has been greatly exaggerated. Remember, It wasn’t too long ago that AC/DC were the most hated band in the world…a title AC/DC politely thanked Nickelback for taking away from them.
Recently Black Key’s drummer Patrick Carney said in Rolling Stone magazine that Nickelback are killing rock n’ roll, which to me is just about the easiest, safest, and most predictable thing someone in his position could say. The irony is, Patrick is someone who is helping rock n’ roll with how successful his band’s un-predictable rock music has been, and as much as I dig the Black Keys style of rock music, far more than that of Nickelback; if I had to pick a band to hang out with, at this very moment, it’s the one “everyone” hates.
Am I a fan of the music? No. Am I a fan of them as people? Yes. Am I saying that because I’m afraid Chad will grab my balls again? Maybe.
Enjoy the most hated band in the world,
Watch In Sixty with Nickelback on MuchMore airing March 15 at 9 pm ET.