Mike Kroeger, brother of Chad and bassist for Canada’s biggest band, talks to James Wilkinson about famous friends and the smell of success.
In the US they are the 11th-biggest-selling music act of the past decade and the biggest-selling foreign music act after The Beatles. Their distinctive blend of thudding hard rock can be heard on radio stations all over the world – including in our own fair city, of course – and they are easily the most recognisable Canadian rock act on the planet (well, there’s Avril Lavigne, but that’s stretching the definition of rock – and, arguably, music – to dangerous levels). Yep, it has to be said: for bassist Mike Kroeger, forming Nickelback in 1995 with his brother Chad and pal Ryan Peake was a pretty good decision.
But if we’re honest, we’d have to say he’s not making the most of his fame. After enthusing about the early days of Metallica (‘We were into them back when they were an underground thing on a slow build,’ he brags), he admits he’s never dropped them a line. ‘[Chad] is friends with Lars [Ulrich, Metallica’s drummer]; they’ve hung out. But I’ve never met any of them.’ ‘What?’ we splutter. ‘Chad’s your younger brother! Can’t you bully him into introducing you? Give him a dead arm.’ ‘We have very different lives,’ chuckles the father of two. ‘Chad’s idea of a party is hanging out with Lars Ulrich; mine involves chocolate cake and pony rides.’
Aw, bless. Mike really does seem like a nice guy, so does it hurt him when the music press give Nickelback a hard ride? It’s hard to find a professional review that doesn’t complain about their records all sounding the same. ‘Well, if I’m okay to recycle another interview, Angus Young [from AC/DC] once said, “People say that our records have started to sound the same. That’s not true – they’ve sounded the same ever since the beginning.” This is what we do, you know? We just go into a studio and do our thing and that’s what comes out. And apparently people like it.’
Indeed they do, as a string of commercial successes and popular plaudits attest. So what does success smell like? ‘I guess it depends who you are,’ he laughs. ‘For a lot of people, success smells like puke and all kinds of bad stuff. We spend a lot of time touring – I can tell you what that smells like, but it doesn’t smell like success. It’s far from it. I guess you can say success doesn’t have a smell because it’s been able to have a shower.’
Nickelback play on February 6. Tickets from Dhs295.