Few bands did more than Nickelback to establish the force of slick, commercially minded post-grunge in the 2000s. Led by singer Chad Kroeger, the group initially surfaced in the late ’90s as Canada’s answer to Creed, prizing a blend of gruff vocals and distorted (yet radio-friendly) guitars. After a small number of singles failed to gain much traction in Canada, “How You Remind Me” caught hold in 2001, eventually topping the charts in several countries during gathering four Grammy nominations and four Juno Awards. Creed imploded several years later, but Nickelback’s popularity only grew as the decade progressed, effectively eclipsing those acts that had once informed the band’s sound.
Chad Kroeger honed his frontman skills by performing with cover bands in Hanna, a small Canadian town 215 kilometers northeast of Calgary. After growing tired of performing other people’s songs, he borrowed money from his stepfather and relocated to Vancouver, where he recorded his first batch of original material. Mike Kroeger, Chad’s bass-playing sibling, decided to become a part of his brother’s band, as did fellow Vancouver transplants Ryan Peake (a guitar player who had befriended the Kroegers in middle school) and Ryan Vikedal (a drummer from Peake’s hometown of Brooks, Alberta). Nickelback officially took shape in 1996 and quickly set to work, releasing two units — the Hesher EP and full-length album, Curb — before the year was up. By 1998, the bandmates were managing themselves; Chad courted radio stations, brother Mike Kroeger handled distribution, Ryan Vikedal booked shows, and Peake maintained the band’s website.
January 2000 saw the arrival of The State, Nickelback’s second independent release. issued at a time in which Canadian content requirements were opened up (and, accordingly, local radio stations had begun to desperately seek out homegrown product), the album fared very well on indie charts. Nickelback toured ceaselessly in support of The State, logging approximately 200 performances during playing alongside other groups of the burgeoning post-grunge genre. Nickelback’s commercial appeal wasn’t lost on the album industry, either, and The State’s distribution rights were rapidly snapped up by Roadrunner Records in the U.S. and EMI in Canada. As the ensemble continued to tour, Chad Kroeger kept writing new songs, many of which were honed in front of live audiences. Much of that songs found its way onto Silver Side Up, which was produced by Rick Parashar (who followed to prominence in the early ’90s by helming Pearl Jam’s Ten, Alice in Chains’ Sap, and Blind Melon’s self-titled debut) and recorded at Green House, the same Vancouver studio used at a time of The State’s creation. The combination of Nickelback’s growing popularity and Kroeger’s focused songwriting propelled Silver Side Up onto record charts across the world, spearheaded by the hit single “How You Remind Me.” Kroeger capitalized on that exposure by producing another Vancouver-based band, Default, and collaborating with Saliva’s Josey Scott for the Spiderman soundtrack. The Long Road then arrived in 2003, featuring an increasingly polished style of music and another high-charting single, “Someday.” while some listeners criticized the apparent similarities between “Someday” and “How You Remind Me,” The Long Road had little trouble maintaining Nickelback’s wide audience, eventually selling over five million copies worldwide.
In February 2005, Nickelback announced the departure of Ryan Vikedal. He was soon took the place by 3 Doors Down’s former drummer, Daniel Adair, and Nickelback came back to Kroeger’s studio in Vancouver to begin work on another record. ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons and Pantera’s Dimebag Darrell (who unfortunately died before the album’s release) were guests on the chart-topping All the Right Reasons, which arrived in October 2005. The album proved to be Nickelback’s most popular effort to date, remaining in the Billboard Top 30 for over two years and selling over 7 million units in the U.S. alone. It also spawned five Top 20 singles, a feat that attracted the attention of veteran producer (and demonstrated hit-maker) Mutt Lange. Nickelback traveled to Lange’s home in Switzerland to share songwriting ideas; impressed with the results, they also enlisted him to helm their next album. Recorded in a converted Vancouver barn, Dark Horse marked the band’s sixth studio album upon its release in November 2008.