x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Nickelback: they're just big rock stars

Nickelback's Chad and Mike Kroeger shed light on their forthcoming stripped-down Abu Dhabi performance and the fleeting nature of fame as they prepare to play at the F1.

Nickelback will perform on Saturday as part of the F1 After Race Concerts in Abu Dhabi. The Canadian band are known for large-scale productions but say their UAE gig will be a more scaled-down show. AP Photo
Nickelback will perform on Saturday as part of the F1 After Race Concerts in Abu Dhabi. The Canadian band are known for large-scale productions but say their UAE gig will be a more scaled-down show. AP Photo

Ever since emerging in 2001 with their mega-hit How You Remind Me, the group’s growing success – they’ve sold 50 million albums to date – has been matched with misperceptions of members being egotistical and dour.

When speaking to the frontman Chad Kroeger, you discover he is not anything like we have been led to believe. The 37-year-old is warm and engaging, punctuating responses with hearty laughs.

Comfortable with the group’s stadium-filling ability, Chad declares no nostalgia for the early days in the mid-1990s when the boys played small clubs across Canada.

“Not even remotely,” he says. “I figure, if I’m going to open up my mouth and scream into a microphone, I want as many people as possible to be around to hear it.”

He will surely receive his wish as Nickelback are to play to an estimated 20,000-strong crowd on Saturday as part of the F1 After Race concerts at du Arena.

Chad maybe the linchpin of the group, responsible for writing the hits Rockstar, Bottoms Up and Trying Not to Love You, but Nickelback are also a family affair, with his older brother Mike on bass and backing vocals.

With the group’s high profile, it is strange that no whispers of sibling rivalry emanate from the Nickelback camp.

Mike, 40, says there is no secret to the group’s solidarity. He is happy with Chad hogging the headlines as long as good music is being produced.

“We don’t have a relationship you see in other brother acts, in that they fight publicly and say terrible things about each other,” he says.

“I believe those things are normally based on situations where both of the brothers want to be famous and only one of them is, or both want to be the lead singer and only one them is. In our case I have no desire to be famous or the lead singer, so it is a very good arrangement.”

With the group releasing their seventh album Here and Now last year, Nickelback have been on the road, touring North America and Europe.

Anyone who saw Nickelback in Dubai Festival City two years ago can attest to the large stage production and pyrotechnics that come with the performance. But Chad says the bells and whistles of each tour have proven to be a hindrance rather than an enjoyment for the band.

For these performances, they’ve adopted a more stripped-down approach. “There is a point when you’ve gone too far with the production and it stops being about the music and the band making a connection,” he says.

“I think we were pushing the envelope pretty hard in that direction when we were on our North American tour, so we’ve scaled it back now and it does feel like the crowd are anticipating the next song rather than the next rabbit out of the hat.”

Mike, who says he is planning to take in the racing action while in Abu Dhabi, explains the Nickelback juggernaut allows him to understand the fleeting nature of fame.

“I can only speak for myself, but I am realistic because this life, this music career and how these things go … it just ends,” he says.

“And it isn’t always abrupt, sometimes it is a slow decline until it’s gone or it just stops and you decide you don’t want it to go any further. So I just take it one day at a time, one record at a time and when I play in a place such as Abu Dhabi, London or Vancouver, I always remember that this could be the last time.”

• Nickelback are playing on Saturday at the du Arena as part of the Yasalam After Race Concerts. The performance  can only be accessed by F1 ticket holders who must collect their Yasalam After Race Concert wristband from the Yas Marina Circuit on Friday and Saturday. Doors open at 7pm. For more information visit www.yasalam.ae

sasaeed@thenational.ae