Nickelback are a juggernaut of the music industry. Where other bands have tried and failed, the Canadian mainstream rockers continue to release mega-selling albums and play sold out stadium concerts around the world.
The band are set to launch their massive live show in Australia this weekend, before steam rolling their way right round the country, and MAX caught up with the band's bassist, Mike Kroeger midway through the band's journey to our shores for a quick chat about playing to massive audiences, having fans connect to your music emotionally and how iPads can be lifesavers on the road.
MAX: Hi Mike, how are you going buddy?
MK: Good thank you!
MAX: You’re set to return to Australia this week – are you excited to tour Oz again?
MK: Yes, I’m getting on the plane tomorrow.
MAX: Where are you at the moment?
MK: At Maui, Hawaii.
MK: Yeah about a third of the third of the way over.
MAX: You guys have played some fairly epic shows around the world as part of this most recent tour and always attract a big audience – what’s are some of the bigger crowd you’ve played to?
MK: We had somewhere in the neighbourhood of 40,000 at the Formula One race we just played in Abu Dhabi – that was a good one. But everything’s been fantastic. Big crowds – way bigger than we ever thought we could get – all through Europe and Russia. We’re just pleased with how things have turned out. We can’t wait to get over to Oz and set up there.
MAX: Here and Now has been out for about a year now – which songs would you say get the biggest reactions from the crowd?
MK: ‘Lullaby’ seems to be getting quite a good reaction. People are really grooving on ‘Lullaby.’ ‘Bottoms Up’ – they’re having a good time with that one too, especially when we’re in the more heavy, partying countries – like Australia. They’ll be into ‘Bottoms Up.’
MAX: What’s your personal favourite song to perform live?
MK: It’s hard to choose just one. The one that I like to perform live right now is ‘Trying Not To Love You.’ It’s a little bit of a different kind of vibe for us and I like playing like that a lot.
MAX: Can fans expect any surprises from these upcoming stadium shows? Are you doing anything particularly different down here?
MK: It’s going to be a little bit different to the last time we were there. I’m not going to unload the surprises right here but it will be a little different to past shows. I think everyone will be pretty pleased with what we’re bringing.
MAX: You’ve got a fairly extensive back catalogue now – is it hard to pick set lists for the shows and do you stick to the set lists or do you change them nightly?
MK: We change it up depending on what the people have shown interest in. There are certain territories where one song will go off better than another. The set list is more like doing cuts, because we could go out there and play for three hours and there would be all singles but we don’t have that much time and we don’t actually want to subject anybody to that much to begin with, so we have to do cuts. We cut the ones that weren’t the biggest successes in each territory. It takes a little bit of research at each place to figure out what works.
MAX: You guys spend a large part of your life out on the road. Is there anything when you’re touring that you can’t live without?
MK: You know what I’ve realised that I can’t live without on tour anymore is the iPad. Oh my God – the iPad’s been an absolute saviour. We’ve been in countries where there is no English, of any kind, and the Ipad gives us the opportunity to download something in English so I don’t have to watch a Kazakhstan TV station and figure out what’s going on.
MAX: You guys have released some fairly emotional videos, I was watching the one for Lullaby yesterday – do you get a lot of emotional fans approaching you or contacting you about how your music effects their lives and does that get to be overwhelming at all?
MK: It’s a cool effect with that sort of thing, when people feel an emotional connection to a lot of songs, because I know for myself, music is very much the soundtrack of my life. A lot of music takes me back to different places in my life – where I’ve been; when I was listening to different parts of different music. I think that it’s good that that is playing out in someone else’s life – a Nickelback song can trigger someone’s emotions about a place that they’ve been in their life. I think that’s really cool.
MAX: Your brother Chad fulfils a fairly traditional roll of a frontman with always been the central focus of the audience– does that relieve pressure from you and the other guys, and does that ever take a toll on him?
MK: It seems like the right sort of thing that the singer kind of takes on a roll of master of ceremonies in many cases and he seems to go really well at that whole “host” role. He’s really good at that. I figure I wouldn’t be and Ryan wouldn’t be and Dan wouldn’t be so we go with the strongest MC and he’s the guy.
MAX: This year is pretty much at an end – you got these Australian shows and then the years is pretty much done. What are your plans for 2013 for Nickelback – will you be heading into the studio at all?
MK: We are starting to look back at back to the studio. Also, we are looking at doing some touring next year through some places we haven’t been – South Africa, South America, Central America, some of the more fringe markets in the East Bloc. It’s going to be really interesting.
For Nickelback tour datyes, head to the MAX Tours page.