Mike Kroeger was one of the founding members of Nickelback with his lead vocalist/brother, Chad Kroeger in the mid-late 90’s. Now, over 20 years later, the band gears up to tour their eighth album No Fixed Address to Australia with a string of arena dates in May.
One of our lucky writers, Kyle Butcher, got to chat with Mike ahead of their huge Australian tour.
_ _ _ _ _ _ _
Nickelback’s latest album, No Fixed Address, was titled so because they recorded it in multiple locations. A few bands have taken to this method of creating an album, most notably Dave Grohl’s group Foo Fighters created a TV series on recording their album Sonic Highways at all of the iconic studios in America. Nickelback took a more relaxed approach, and it seems to have worked for the experienced group.
“This recording process was different because we travelled a lot and recorded in a lot of different locations. What that allowed us to do is to keep it fresh. We’ve recorded albums sitting in the same room, but there’s a lot of times when you’re making an album and the creativity just isn’t coming. You just kinda sit there and it sucks. So bad. We all know what we need to do but we’re just sitting there looking at each other. The little breaks and change of scenery really kept that creativity up and it all felt new, so it never felt like a grind.”
“We recorded in two of my houses, one in Vancouver and one in Hawaii, just in the basement. You don’t have to use a studio anymore. We did use a few studios for fun more than anything else, it wasn’t out of necessity,” Michael said.
“We worked at West Lake Studios where Michael Jackson recorded Off the Wall, and it was really cool to be in that room where so much has happened. It’d be cool to return there. We also played in a room where Rick Rubin does a lot of his work at East-West Studios. Recording in the studio ends up like a house party, not gonna lie, there was some drinking involved, had some laughs. We know how to have a good time recording.”
It’s incredible to think that bands can now record albums in their houses. Even though the music industry often reports a decrease in revenue, artists like Nickelback still have holiday homes and tour to packed-out arenas worldwide.
Since their debut album Curb in the 90’s, Nickelback has sold more than eight million tickets worldwide. That means they’ve played to more people than the population of Switzerland. I mentioned this to Mike, and he was definitely surprised at the figure.
“I’ve never heard that before! Consider me boggled (laughs). Wow. That’s a lot,” he said, then went on talking about touring.
“It’s cool to see a bit of each city if I can. It’s hard to keep it fresh when you’re going from one arena directly to the next. It is a new crowd each night, and the show is never dull or boring, it’s more just the rest of the day that you spend sitting in a locker room like a Hockey team. Eventually you can’t tell the dressing rooms apart, but the fans do always spice it up. The shows for me are definitely the best part of my day.”
I wondered whether the band took their family on the road for every tour.
“I used to take mine, and I brought them through with me on our last Australia tour. It’s funny, my son has kinda told me that he doesn’t want to go on the road anymore, and I couldn’t believe it. I was just like, ‘Are you serious? It’s the greatest!’ I guess he’s just a little bit of a homebody and he’s getting used to his routines at school with his friends and playing music himself. This is going to be the first time I haven’t had them come since they were born, they’ve been with me on tour buses and airplanes around the world, so it’s gonna be interesting!”
“Every once in a while, we get the opportunity to do a smaller gig, and we play at the House of Blues in Hollywood for the tour launch. It’s like a larger club, and it’s pretty cool to play those kind of venues, and its different altogether. I find that the clubs seem to always be louder in there, and you can make it so much louder there, unlike the arenas.”
The conversation quickly moved to the differences between now and then within the music industry, and Mike quickly points out a major issue in the industry and the world around it.
“Obviously the influence of the electronic medium has changed how people discover music,” he said. “It’s a huge paradigm shift, much bigger than the evolution from the LP to the cassette to the CD, and it’s taken the industry quite some time to get their head around how to work it, and they still don’t know what they’re doing.”
This led to musings as to whether this is the reason that the industry doesn’t make as much money as it used to, before the conversation came to a close. Nickelback have been a part of the scene heavily since Curb dropped in 1996 and their massive album Silver-Side Up went platinum in 2001.
The band is touring Australia in May, and you can catch them Wednesday 20 May at Brisbane Entertainment Centre.