It’s time to Get Rollin’.
For its 10th album, Nickelback – Chad Kroeger, Ryan Peake, Mike Kroeger, and Daniel Adair – enjoyed something they hadn’t had previously, over a 25-year career that’s generated nine studio projects and 50 million in album sales: the luxury of time.
“We didn’t have a deadline,” Chad Kroeger told us, during a Toronto stop he and guitarist Ryan Peake made to help induct Bryan Adams into the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame, in a gala at Massey Hall, on Sept 24, 2022.
“We didn’t have anybody yelling at us, saying, ‘Guys, if you don’t get this out by the fourth quarter, then we’re not going to do this, this, and this, and then the tour’s not going to happen.’ For 20 years, that’s all we heard,” says Kroeger. “Everything has been plotted and pre-determined. And it’s so nice to be working at your leisure. Don’t rush anything, and be creative when you feel the creativity coming.”
Get Rollin’, the Alberta-born, West Coast-based band’s first effort since 2017’s Feed The Machine, finds Nickelback – known for such barn-burning rock monsters as “Photograph” and “How You Remind Me” among its many, many hits – delving into both the familiar and the unfamiliar.
There are the expected rock ‘n’ roll shredders like “San Quentin” and “Skinny Little Missy,” fortified with molten guitar solos; but then there’s the ‘70s country-rock feel of “High Times,” and the dream-like, pseudo-psychedelic ballad “Tidal Wave” – both of which stretch Nickelback in new directions.
One of Kroeger’s proudest moments on Get Rollin’ is the nostalgia-fueled, bro-country-ish “Those Days.” “The age I’m at now, and the further we get from our youth, the more important nostalgia is for me,” he says. “You don’t really look back at things when you’re in your twenties and say, ‘Well, when I was 17…’ It’s when you’re in your forties that you say, ‘Oh, when I was 16… I remember this, and this, and this.’ It turns into your glory days, right? A lot of the shitty stuff that happens to all of us starts to melt away a little bit, and hopefully, you start to carve out the good memories.”
He chokes up a little. “‘Those Days,’ for me, takes me back to the reason we started the band,” he says. “Even the shitty stuff that does wind up forming you, that you don’t want to tell anybody about, wouldn’t make you who you are today, without that. If you go back and erase it, you’d be a completely different human.
“For me, I fucking love where we are. What a job! Some of it’s tough, and some of it’s really, really hard, but we got here. And I think I’ve done enough singing about the mile of shit you have to crawl through sometimes in life. Now, it’s nicer to sing about some other things, the good stuff. Hopefully, it resonates with people the same way it resonates with me.”
When it comes to creating those past and future classics, Kroeger uses his home studio to provide the initial seed of the song, adding that the other band members possess veto power, and have a say as to what works. “These guys come in and they contribute to everything,” he says. “I’ll bring the skeleton to them and ask, ‘Is this worth chasing? Are you guys interested in this at all? Do you think this is the right direction for us?’
“Sometimes they say no, but that’s okay; let’s try something else, and go someplace else. And Ryan is always complimentary: ‘Hey, it’s a good song, I just don’t think it’s for us.’ Because we’re trying to make an ‘us’ record and not a ‘me’ record, that one will go in the vault and sit there, until maybe I’m ready to do something solo with someone else.”
Kroeger feels that anything can launch a song skeleton, be it a riff or a lyric.
“It can be so many different things,” he says. “I say this all the time: When it comes to professionally writing a song, you should start with the chorus, and know thematically what you’re contributing to in terms of verses, because that’s where the details are going to come in, to be descriptive of your general theme.”
He pauses a second for dramatic effect, before chuckling, “We rarely fucking do that. But as Nickelback, we always get there.”
Ryan Peake says there’s a single litmus test on whether a song makes it past the audition stage. “My thing is – and I put myself under the same microscope when I’m coming up with shit – do I want to hear it again?” he says. “That’s the bottom line for me. I think that’s the bottom line for a lot of people.”