It’s OK with Nickelback if you want to call them a pop group.
In fact, pop doesn’t begin to describe the Canadian quartet’s third album, “The Long Road.” The Roadrunner set, arguably the most-anticipated global rock release of the year, is due Sept. 23 in North America and a day earlier in the rest of the world.
“Somewhere along the line, people turned pop – as in ‘popular’ – into a dirty word,” says Chad Kroeger, leader of the hard-rocking band.
“We want to reach the widest audience possible and let everyone know who we are. Korn, Tool and Slipknot are among the heaviest bands out there, and they’re all popular. So come on, I take that as a compliment.”
Adds brother and bassist Mike Kroeger: “The Christina Aguileras of the world have a good grip on what’s pleasing to the ear; I don’t consider that a curse.”
The new set grinds harder than ever, but it is also gloriously and accessibly melodic, with seductive choruses that punch through the speakers like the impassioned mantras of a holy healer.
“The Long Road” follows 2001’s breakthrough “Silver Side Up,” which was certified gold or platinum in 10 countries. In the U.S., the album has sold more than 4.7 million units, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and spawned the Billboard Hot 100 song of the year for 2001, “How You Remind Me.”
“Silver Side Up” also was honored with a Juno Award in Canada and earned four Grammy Award nominations.
“I think it’s becoming more difficult to pick Nickelback fans out of a lineup,” Chad Kroeger says of the mainstream popularity of the band, which also includes Ryan Peake on guitars and Ryan Vikedal on drums.
“We have songs on the new album that are more appealing to 13-year-old girls than 45-year-old businessmen; some that 35-year-old housewives are going to prefer over 15-year-old guys,” Kroeger says.
“Having the diversity in fans that we do, keeping them all happy is becoming quite the balancing act,” Chad Kroeger says.
But make no mistake, Nickelback’s work is as carefully crafted as it is unapologetically commercial. Kroeger consciously prioritizes the elements of writing and recording.
“You’ll find yourself singing along to a chorus far more often than singing to a guitar solo, right?” he asks.
“Instead of spending three hours on a guitar solo, I’d rather make sure I can come up with the best lyrics in the space that I have to fill. I want every individual line to make a point,” he adds.
Kroeger also shakes off the common practice of holing up with the guys in a studio for a month to work up a new project.
“If you’ve got the last song you wrote still stuck in your head, how can the next one be much of a departure? I prefer huge gaps between writing; anytime I can get myself alone, I can be creative.
“Some of these songs went through incredible transformations along the way,” Kroeger adds. “I like the fact that we can sit down and look at it, then everyone pulls out a chain saw and starts cutting. It allows more honesty.”
New single “Someday,” produced by the band with Joey Moi, is one of few non-hip-hop releases this year to enjoy instant acceptance at radio. It took all of four weeks to chart in the top 10 at modern, mainstream, active and heritage rock – with top 40 launching imminently.
But for the time being, Kroeger’s focus is on “The Long Road.” Indeed, the journey ahead for Nickelback includes a new round of relentless touring.
The month after “The Long Road” hits stores, the band embarks on a headlining U.S. tour, with Trapt and Three Days Grace in tow. The tour will kick off Oct. 14 in Lubbock, Texas, with 20 dates currently set.
Beforehand, the group will celebrate the release of “The Long Road” with a Sept. 20 free concert in Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas Square, which will be broadcast on MuchMusic in Canada. Fans tuning in can send questions to the band via phone, fax or E-mail.
The first leg of its U.S. tour starts Oct. 14 in Texas, wrapping Nov. 11. Trapt is confirmed for support, and Three Days Grace will open all shows.
“It feels too damn good right now,” Chad Kroeger says. “We’re riding high, and I love it. Music is cyclical and trendy, but we try to be honest with our fans so that they’ll keep casting their vote for us.
“I’m hoping it’s going to be a while before I have to go to Mattel and get my bobblehead or to GM to do a car commercial.”
Here Are Nickelback’s U.S. Tour Dates:
Oct. 14 – Lubbock, Texas – Canyon Amphitheater
Oct. 16 – Grand Prairie, Texas – Next Stage
Oct. 17 – Corpus Christi, Texas – Concrete St. Amphitheater