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By DAVID SCHMEICHEL - Sun Media
Chad Kroeger & Nickelback don’t look down on their local fans. (Supplied photo)
For better or worse, it sounds like Winnipeggers had a hand in helping Canuck rockers Nickelback ascend from bar-band obscurity to international superstardom.
And though he's sometimes painted as a bit of turd by the legions of critics who love to lambaste the band, frontman Chad Kroeger hasn't forgotten the folks who helped make his dreams a reality.
"Winnipeg was, like, the second city in Canada ... to really get behind us," says Kroeger, a native of Hannah, Alta., over the phone from Vancouver. "I remember we rolled through town on a tour with Big Wreck, and when we did, we were just floored by the response."
These days, the members of Nickelback have a raft of Juno Awards and Grammy nominations to their credit -- not to mention 21 million in record sales and a shiny new star on Canada's Walk of Fame. But it wasn't always that way, and Kroeger still has vivid memories of some of the humbling details from the band's past -- like a bathtub at the soon-to-be-closed Royal Albert Arms that had been turned into a combination ashtray and toilet.
"I've slept upstairs at that s--hole," Kroeger says laughingly, of the notorious venue. "Trust me -- it doesn't get any more rock-bottom than that."
The Nickelback crew -- whose first taste of fame came with the 2001 smash How You Remind Me -- have always been cognizant of the role fans play in their success, especially given the critical derision they've been dealing with since Day 1, says Kroeger. That's why they've become choosier in recent years about their hard-rockin' musical output.
"A lot of bands show up, record their records, get a lot of people into them ... and they just automatically think those people will be around for the next record," says Kroeger. "But it just doesn't work that way. I know it doesn't work that way for me."
Of course, some people wish Kroeger would be choosier about what tumbles out of his mouth. At a recent Canada Day show in Charlottetown, P.E.I., Kroeger drew the ire of city council by peppering his stage banter with profanity, then tossing beers into the crowd despite the presence of minors.
Clearly, organizers could have avoided that gaffe with a modicum of research -- (the "family-friendly" event also featured performances by noted bad-boys Buckcherry and Hedley). But the incident is typical of the criticism that's always dogged Kroeger, who's frequently dismissed as a talentless misogynist by those who don't like his music.
But someone's been buying all those albums, and if Nickelback's perennial ranking atop all those "Worst Band in the World" lists rankles Kroeger, he doesn't let on.
Prior to the Walk of Fame ceremony last month, he was downright giddy about how far he and his bandmates -- buddies Ryan Peake and Daniel Adair, plus half-brother Mike Kroeger -- have managed to come since their post-grunge early days, and of the impact they've had on their fans.
"That's a wonderful way to look at it, that we've touched people's lives," says Kroeger. "I remember listening to my own favourite bands during my s--ty formative years, knowing that if it weren't for those bands, things would have gone differently.
"We are four lucky bastards -- not a day goes by that I don't wake up and think, 'I'm thankful to be able to play music for a living. And to be heard.'"
http://jam.canoe.ca/Music/Artists/N/Nic ... 87093.html