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The final frontier for a Canadian band like Nickelback has got to be playing a place like south Florida. They were easily three thousand miles from home, the heat is probably unbearable, and hockey is not the national pasttime, especially down here. But no matter what their obstacles are or have been, they seem to have hurtled them down with ease. Theyre a rock band on a predominately metal label, theyre Canadians trying to break through on American soil, and they thoroughly enjoy sports and women, the vices of practically every rock and roll band on the planet. We had a chance to chat with bassist Mike Kroeger and drummer Ryan Vikedal before a show in St. Petersburg, Florida, where the temperature was flirting with one hundred degrees and the rain had left quite a layer of dense air around the venue they were about to crash.
So what do you guys think, is it too hot to play hockey down here?
Mike: Hell yes, we could play a little more up north, but this is hot down here.
Oh yeah. How are things going with the band?
Mike: Well, weve basically been on the road since the sixteenth of March and its just gotten better every single night out. Its just been a lot of fun for us. Our drum tech just came back out with us after a couple of weeks off, so its like weve got the whole crew back again. We havent had more than five days off since March, but its really just great.
How has the response changed since you started then and now that youre headlining clubs?
Mike: Awesome. Its coming along every day. Every place we go it just seems to get better, and the places weve played and gone back to always seem to have more people there.
Youre doing six shows in Florida. Why the focus on the southeast?
Mike: Florida likes rock, man! If youre in a place that loves rock music, you have to drill it. But a place like New York, its just way more urban, things that arent rock. More rap, more metal, just a lot of underground stuff. Music doesnt go that far down here, at least not as much.
Tell me a little bit about how you guys came together.
Mike: Chad and I are brothers, and Ryan [Peake] is a friend of ours, someone we went to school with. Our drummer, Ryan [Vikedal], is someone he went to school with, and were all really good friends, even before this happened. Originally, Chad, our cousin, and myself were jamming and Chad wrote some songs and decided to cut a record. We got into it, got some radio play in Vancouver, and it just kind of progressed from there.
Had any of you been in other bands before Nickelback?
Mike: Not really, just jamming with a few bands, basically being a musical whore, whoring about with my bass in my hand.
Is that how you ended up on Roadrunner Records?
Mike: Well, we approached every label right off, and they came back pretty hard. There were other parties interested as well. They had way more cash and deeper pockets, but nowhere near the enthusiasm or track record that Roadrunner had. We had to go with an indie because the big ones will sign you for a kings ransom and flush you down the toilet the next day and not even worry about it.
Ryan: The way Roadrunner is, theyre an independent, so when they start something, theyre committed to working it and chasing it. Plus they all really liked us and were just really cool about the whole thing.
Mike: It was sort of a mix of a business decision and gut instinct. So far they havent let us down, and I dont see it happening anytime soon.
Did their past as a metal-oriented label have any part in making the decision more difficult or easier?
Mike: That showed all of us they were willing to work. What happens when you give them something they can push for the radio? Well, now we know, and were glad were the ones that kind of broke that down for them.
Ryan: Theyre basically an independent label with major label status. They work their ass off for anyone they sign. We knew that and thats why were with them.
So is “Breathe” really a song about Churchill and Stalin?
Mike: I think its kind of a smoke screen, a plan to take over the planet with Nickelback.
Its working! Whats your take on Farmclub.com?
Mike: It was great, we did it about four weeks ago. Matt Pinfield was cool as hell.
What kind of differences do you see in the crowds and support from tv and radio here versus Canada?
Mike: Theres ten times the population down here, so as far as gigs go, you can tour for a year and never hit the same place twice. Up there, touring lasts about two weeks. Essentially the crowds are the same, the good ones are good, and I guess if we ever saw a bad one wed know it.
Have you guys had any time to write anything new?
Ryan: Actually, were playing at least two new songs tonight.
Mike: Maybe three, but at least two. One is kind of groove heavy, heavier than a lot of stuff weve done, and the other is just as good, just not as heavy.
Right on. Well, that is about all I had for you. Do you think this heat is going to slow your performance?
Mike: You know, its just as hot onstage down here as it is in, say, Michigan. It just sucks when you walk outside down here at like midnight and its still eighty-five degrees outside. But hey, were a band that tours, so we deal with it.
+ rick hinkson
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