Nickelback Knows You Hate Them. Their New Netflix Documentary Might Just Change Your Mind. Or Not.

Nickelback Knows You Hate Them. Their New Netflix Documentary Might Just Change Your Mind. Or Not.

By Michele Yeo

Chances are you have an opinion on Nickelback. And if that opinion is a negative one, well, let’s just say, you’re not alone. Since bursting onto the music scene in the late ‘90s/early 2000s the band has endured its fair share of criticism, mockery, derision, and downright hate. While shitting on Nickelback has become almost de rigueur, clearly someone must like the band for them to have sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, right? But alas, Nickelback remains a punchline.

Now, the band that everyone loves to hate, the pop culture punching bag, is fighting back in a new Netflix documentary Hate To Love: Nickelback. Here are 10 things we learned about the much maligned musicians from the doc.

The Band Started Out Very Grassroots
While Nickelback did go on to sell more than 50 million albums over the course of their career, they started out very small and grassroots, self-funding their early work through a loan as well as borrowing money from family members. Guitarist Ryan Peake’s mom kicked in five thousand dollars so they could print physical copies of their first album Hesher in 1996 while singer Chad Kroeger borrowed five thousand dollars from his grandmother and four thousand from his stepfather. Members of the band would drive around dropping off copies of their CDs at record stores while Chad worked the phones trying to convince radio stations to give them airplay. Says the band’s lawyer in the documentary, “everybody pulled together as a team and moved the ball down the field. So to those who see this band as some big corporate sell out – fuck you.”

Nickelback Knows You Hate Them. Their New Netflix Documentary Might Just Change Your Mind. Or Not.

Their Music Was Everywhere All the Time
After a modest beginning, Nickelback eventually broke through and became one of the biggest bands in the world, playing sold out arenas around the globe and their music became entirely ubiquitous for a period of time. At its peak, their single How You Remind Me off their album Silver Side Up (released on September 11th, 2001, btw) was playing somewhere in the United States every 3.2 minutes. “Once the song went out and it went to radio stations, all of a sudden, people started playing it and it was just everywhere,” says Chad.

Their Omnipresence Wasn’t Welcomed by Everyone
Around the same time How You Remind Me was everywhere, Chad Kroeger’s song Hero from the Spider-Man soundtrack was also getting significant airplay. “Those two were on the radio nonstop,” says Chad. However, not everyone loved having Nickelback jammed down their throats and the overexposure likely played a role in people turning against the band. “They became absolutely ubiquitous. And for a while, it was fine,” says music journalist Alan Cross. “Then they were so mainstream that they were considered to be irrelevant artistically and if you liked Nickelback well, then you didn’t have very good taste. You didn’t understand rock music.” He adds, “things begin to go South. The level of hate directed at them seemed to exceed what seemed to be reasonable.”

They Know You Hate Them
Nickelback has seen all your memes and heard all your jokes. They’re acutely aware of the backlash against them. “When it comes down to all the crap we get.” says Chad Kroeger, “we do get more than any band out there, I don’t know if anyone would contest that.”

The Band Isn’t Immune to the Criticism
While the band tries to take the hatred in stride, they admit it does get to them. “Nobody picks up a guitar to be the most hated band in the world,” says guitarist Ryan Peake. “It used to be really bad, the way it would make me feel,” adds Chad, “you try and laugh it off and you can laugh off about 90 percent of it but some of it, it hurts.” In the documentary the band recalls one particular time where Chad had a “meltdown” about it in a dressing room. “The pressure is definitely different when it comes to being the face of the band,” he says.

And It Doesn’t Just Affect The Band Members
It’s not just the members of the band who are affected by the vitriol thrown their way, their families feel the backlash as well. Bassist Mike Kroeger’s son and daughter tell the doc, “kids weren’t very nice about it, they were pretty mean. Everyone hated the band so everyone hated us.” Guitarist Ryan Peake feels guilty his son feels compelled to defend the band to its haters. “I say you don’t have to stick up for us, you don’t,” he says, “that’s the part I think is really unfair, I don’t think people understand that.”

Chad Kroeger Likes Being Famous
While being the world’s most hated band isn’t likely something any musician wants, the perks definitely outweigh the pits for Chad Kroeger. “I enjoyed every second of it, let me tell you,” he says. Although he admits when he married Avril Lavigne, things got extra intense. “Getting married to another celebrity doesn’t double it, it quadruples that whole thing,” he says.

“You just take it in stride, you just kind of go with it but you realize life only has to be as difficult as you make it.”

The Band Has Suffered From Health Issues
Over the course of their career, the band has dealt with its share of health issues. Mike Kroeger suffered a stroke at one point while drummer Daniel Adair battles a neurological condition called Task-Specific Focal Dystonia, a movement disorder that interferes with the performance of particular tasks like drumming. Singer Chad Kroeger had to have vocal surgery at one point which he feared could potentially end the band. Although it would be welcome news to their detractors, it wasn’t for Chad, “I was scared,” he admits. “Fucking shitting myself and I tried not to let them know what was going on…I’m the one leading us into battle every night and I can never show fear. I have to maintain that fucking bullshit in my head because I don’t want you guys to be scared.”

The Future of Nickelback is Unwritten
After their North American tour was canceled in the Spring of 2020 due to Covid-19, the band seems unsure of their next move, whether they want to keep writing new music or risk becoming what they call “a greatest hits band.” Says guitarist Ryan Peake, “I don’t know what the future holds for Nickelback, that’s the thing.” Adds bassist Mike Kroeger, “everything does end, though.” And while the end of Nickelback may be celebrated by its haters, for Chad Kroeger it’s a lot more daunting. “I don’t have an identity without this band so the same way I get labeled as the face of this band, without it I feel like who am I?” He adds, “half of my life has been the guy screaming into the microphone at the front of the stage so I don’t even know who the hell I am if I’m not that guy.”

Ultimately, They’re At Peace With Their Place in Pop Culture
So yes, Nickelback’s legacy may be that they were the most successful hated band in the world but these days it seems the band is becoming more and more at peace with where they stand. “I think I’m in a way better place in my life now where I’m like it’s okay, it doesn’t matter,” says Chad Kroeger. “I play Nickelback songs to Nickelback fans. They wanna hear Nickelback songs and I want to sing them.” And for those who don’t want to hear them, that’s okay, too, “I don’t have to go win over someone who doesn’t like my band.” he says, “that sounds like some very strange form of torture. Probably for both of us.”

Hate to Love: Nickelback featuring interviews with Nickelback members Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake, and Daniel Adair, their families, and the occasional music peer, is streaming now on Netflix. Directed by Leigh Brooks, the doc made its debut at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.

Tags: Hate To Love: Nickelback, music, Netflix, Nickelback, Topstory

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