20 Questions with Nickelback's Chad Kroeger
By Troy Schmidt
1. What a coincidence that two of your
band members share the same last name?
Chad: We were doing a show in Canada somewhere, and it was actually
one of the fellows who does the news on one of the TV stations,
and he said, "what's it like being in a band with your brother"
and I said imagine what it would be like doing the news every day
sitting next to your brother. And it was done, enough said. No,
it's not that bad. It's really cool because when we're playing,
when we're jamming on stage, there is a good chemistry there. Although
when somebody else is sitting around, you know how siblings talk
to each other. They are a little sharper, a little shorter. They
could say something a little differently because it's your brother.
You might say something a little harsh that you would never say
to another band member because it's just not family. So when somebody
is on the exterior and listening and watching in on that situation,
they might think, wow, they don't get along. But it's like no, it's
cause that's how you deal with your siblings. That's the way you
talk to each other. It's like, no stupid, you might say something
like that, and that's just the way you interact. But I would never
say that to either one of the Ryans.
2. You have a cousin who also plays music.
Do you think it's genetic?
Chad: I don't know, I don't know how it all started. My grandfather,
he would be the equivalent of a Senator, I guess. You have Senators;
in Canada we have Cabinet Ministers. My grandfather and my grandmother
both played in a band and they were entirely comprised of Cabinet
Ministers, and they were called the Tory Blue Notes. And so my grandma
played the drums and my grandpa played the bass. And there was just
always instruments and always music around, and so I played the
drums a little bit and Mike played the bass a little bit, and I
picked up a guitar and it all just sort of happened. It just sort
of went that way. Then my grandpa bought my cousin a set of drums
for Christmas and then he started playing, actually that was the
first step. He was the first one to actually get an instrument,
and I went back there to visit them, and I watched him play with
his bunch of buddies making music, in his basement. They had the
vocal mikes, the PA system, they even had a keyboard there, and
they were just four guys in 1987 or 1988 and they were just making
music. They were just sitting there making music right in front
of me. I was like, this is amazing, absolutely amazing. I can't
believe, you know, my cousin's over there, handling the rhythm section.
There's vocals, and everything going on and I was just blown away.
It just blew my mind. I was like, anyone could do this, you just
have to practice a little bit. So, I called my mom and I said, I
was going to be getting a present, and I don't know what it was
for, and I think I wanted Nintendo, with the Mario Bros. and the
whole nine yards. And I called her back and said, mom, can I switch
presents? Can I get something else? She was like, well, what do
you want? So I said, "can I get a guitar"? My mom teaches
dancing. She is very artistic and she always wanted me to sing all
the time. So she puts on some record and tells me to sing, I'd be
like, "no mom, this is embarrassing." Singing to your
mother is very bizarre when you're seven or eight. So, she was like,
"I'll give you five bucks." So she would actually bribe
me to sing, and so she was always pushing me and she said, "You
know, sure, I'll get you that guitar." I got the guitar and
then it was unreal. I just felt like the coolest kid in town. Got
that guitar and started playing it. I could play a couple of songs,
and I was really into it. And I taught myself everything. Mike picked
up a bass and officially started playing it about two years after
I started playing. But we never played in bands together or did
anything together. When we were practicing stuff, or get guitar
magazines, I'd go into my room and he'd go into his room. We wouldn't
sit there and jam rips like that or become original. I'd be like,
I'm learning this Metallica song and he'd be learning that Metallica
song across the hall. And then he got into a cover band, I finished
high school, yanked him out of his cover band, got the rest of the
boys all from the same small town, started our own cover band, played
covers, did the circuit. As soon as I got out of high school, we
knew exactly what we were doing right away. We were like, we are
going to steal their booking agent, get on that cover circuit. We
did that for a year, then decided it was no fun playing other peoples
music. We'd gone as far, I mean, we were good, we were a really
good cover band. I wasn't singing I was just playing the guitar.
And that's how it all got started.
3. I read somewhere that you said that
you hate the word "grunge." What other words do you hate?
Chad: Derivative is not my favorite word. Mostly grunge, but you're
going to get compared to everybody. Grunge is a term that is so-especially
in '96 '97 '98-was used all the time. Grunge is this, grunge is
that, grunge is dead. Can somebody please tell me what grunge is!
Please! :You've got a band, a band that I would classify as grunge-Nirvana.
They're a punk, alternative, something band that comes out of nowhere.
Then you have a rock band, they call themselves Pearl Jam. Then
you have this Black Sabbathesque metal band and they call themselves
Soundgarden. Three sounds that sound completely and totally different,
and just because they all came from the same place at the same time
it's like, let's chuck them all in the same pot-let's call them
grunge. So now, anybody that sounds like Soundgarden is grunge.
Anybody that sounds like Pearl Jam is grunge and anybody that sounds
like Nirvana is grunge. So it's like the dumbest thing I've ever
heard. We are a rock band. We might draw influences from those bands,
and other bands. I love the Beatles, Led Zeppelin. I love CCR (Credence
Clearwater Revival). I also like Lauren Hill, Rage Against the Machine,
Faith No More. I love Randy Travis, I love all that stuff, and it
doesn't necessarily come through in all the music.
Hardrock.com: It could be worse, you could love disco.
Chad: True. Down here our first single, Leader of Men, broke a lot
of ground. But as soon as they started to breathe, everyone said,
oh, they sound like Bush. We never got that in Canada. It's very
strange. It's kind of refreshing to hear us sound like something
else, not the Pearl Jam or Soundgarden or this or that. Now we sound
like Bush. I guess until you sell a million copies you don't sound
4. Ok, here is a real deep question. You
are from Canada, Why?
Chad: I don't know, lucky enough. Out of five billion people in
the world, only 30 million get to live there.
Hardrock.com: 6 billion
Chad: Are there 6 billion?
Hardrock.com: Yeah, so how many live in Canada?
Chad: 29 million. One tenth of this population. Voted best place
to live in the world by the UN. We've got amazing education. We've
got a great environment. It's unfortunate that a lot of Americans
think Canada is their largest national park. We've got great medical
coverage, you know, it's just a great place to live. Taxes are a
little bit high.
5. Why are so many Canadians funny? You
have Rick Moranis, Eugene Levy, Dan Ackroyd, Paul Anka.
Chad: Paul Schaffer, Michael J. Fox.
I don't know. I guess nothing to do in the winter but sit around
drink beer, crack jokes.
6. Who was your favorite Canadian Prime
Chad: Brian Mulroney. He was good friends with my grandfather. Met
him, so I guess since that's my one connection there, I'm going
to have to say him.
7. What's the secret to staying warm?
Chad: Move to Vancouver. They call it Hawaii, Canada. If you have
to live in the best country in the world, voted by the UN, you might
as well live in the best city in the best country in the world.
It snows for fifteen minutes a year. You can go into the mountains
on the north side and go snowboarding in the morning and then go
down to the beach and go sun tanning in the afternoon. You can go
surfing. You can do anything you want there. It rains a bit there.
It's extremely similar to Seattle. It's a great place to live. A
lot of music, a ton of music coming out of Vancouver right now.
In fact, a bunch of friends of mine just signed and got an American
deal down here, got them signed to a company called TBT, the band
is called Default. So, I mean, there are so many bands coming from
Vancouver right now.
8. Your song "Fly" is pretty
personal. It takes guts to be that transparent.
Chad: Yeah, my dad wasn't around around when I was growing up. I
would see my friend's dads push them into hockey, push them into
baseball, push them somewhere. I didn't have anybody pushing. I
was just watching everyone, saying come on, let's go get into trouble.
They'd say, no, my dad will kick my ass. I would have loved to say
that just once. But I never said it. So I was always getting into
trouble. I was a bad kid. My dad and I have a great relationship
now. There was a great problem there. My grandfather being the great
monarch figure that he was, being in politics, having two successful
businesses before he got into politics, very much into control.
He just wanted my dad to do everything that he told him, do that,
work for me, or work for my two sons, my two uncles. But why? So
that my two boys can work for their two boys? Why not build a life
of my own, you know, do this and do that, and my grandpa just did
not want it. He wanted to control everything and my dad couldn't
handle that. So he said you know what, the boys are going to be
fine. They have a great mother, and a great grandfather who is more
than willing to be their father figure-but he was very involved
in politics and flying around a lot. I got to go with him a lot
but there were also times when I wish he were around all the time.
That was kind of a bummer, but my mom did a great job. We were spoiled
right up to the day that my grandfather died. At the age of 13.
And then I became one of the poor kids. I didn't get the skateboard
as soon as I wanted it. I didn't get the new bike. Right when things,
material things mattered, right when your 13, those new shoes, that
new coat, this that, a new snowboard, I wanted all those things
and that all the other kids got them, I just couldn't get them.
And that just killed me, so I knew I had to get back there some
9. In the song Just Four, you want to
beat up some guy who's looking at your girl.
Chad: Not exactly, but your interpreting pretty well. You know the
feeling. You know when you're dating someone for a while and you
really care about them, and being in the band I had to leave all
the time. And there was this one guy who was sending her flowers
and doing this sort of thing, and you know, it was just like, buddy,
your stepping over the line.
10. Have you ever been in a fight, and
Chad: Yeah, I've been in a fight and I won. It was the first gig
that we had, no it was the first weeklong stint that we did as a
cover band, we went way up north. Like twelve hours north of my
hometown, and we played up in this place, and it was after the show,
after our fourth set. There were like a couple hundred people in
the bar. Most of the people had cleared. My brother was just sitting
at a table talking with some friends, and I went up to the bar,
then all of the sudden I heard all hell break loose. I looked over
and saw some guy, and he had my brother held down and his girlfriend
is jumping on his back and the rest of the people at the table were
just getting cleaned by somebody and I just ran over there as fast
as I could and he was just kind of winding up, getting ready to
land his knee into my brother's squash and I reached over him and
grabbed him, and he thought there's no one around, I'm going to
win this one for sure, and I reached over top and he looked over-he
was really scared because he was like, "uh-oh, there is somebody
else here." I just pulled him over top of him and banged his
head off the floor a couple of times.
Hardrock.com: Are you more of a lover or a fighter?
Chad: More of a lover.
11. In the song DEEP, who are you talking
Chad: I don't really know, I don't know. That's just one of those
things where, in the start, that's more of the sarcastic verse in
the start. It's like you see much better than I see. It's comparing
someone to someone else. Somebody that everything they do is always
better than you. No matter what they do, somebody that is always
better than you. You can never be as good as that person and you
never will be. And then in the last one it's more the sarcastic,
yeah you know, you can probably bleed better than I bleed, and you
stand right where a hole should.
12. In the song FLY, there are a lot of
spiritual references in these songs.
Chad: That all has to do with my grandfather, and the loss of him.
It is just sort of like, you know, if you're watching me and I'm
screwing up, don't judge me right now because I will get it right.
I will try to be a good person. I will be a good person, if I stray
a little bit just don't judge me right now just wait until I get
there. In terms of not leaving yet, I got off the phone with my
mom and she said your grandma is in the hospital and she's probably
not going to make it. And I got off the phone and I went down stairs
and it was just like, the whole thing, the last fifteen minutes
just came spilling out of my mouth. "Come lie next to me Jesus
Christ, Holes in hand where a cross used to fit just right."
That's her on her deathbed lying there waiting to be taken. Not
leaving yet is me staying by her bedside until the last moment,
even if the family is in the hall grieving, if they've left or whatever,
I'm not leaving you.
13. Which of the Brady Bunch can you identify
with the most?
Chad: Do I identify with? Probably the housekeeper, I don't know.
Probably the smallest boy because I was the baby.
14. What does the title for your album
"Curb" come from?
Chad: Curby is the name of my best friend when I was growing up
and I always called him Curb. But I didn't want to be so literal
and so transparent as to name it Kirb so we named it Curb. And the
story of the song was, he was dating a girl. He would have been
like 17 and she would have been 16, something like that, and we
lived in a rural community, so he would have to sneak to go and
see her. She lived on a farm and he was going to just go and knock
on the window and surprise her. So he is in his truck, on a back
road, and he comes to a hill, middle of the night, and has a head
on collision with a car. He's ok, shaken up, gets out of the truck
goes over to the car, opens the door and there is his girlfriend,
and she's dead. She was sneaking to see him and they came over the
hill and just bang. Now if you're still interested, go check out
the lyrics to that one.
15. If you could go back into rock n roll
history and could hear one performance, what would it be?
Chad: Any performance, I might want to see the Beatles perform right
Hardrock.com: On top of Shea Stadium
Chad: It doesn't matter, as long as I'm front row, it doesn't matter.
Hardrock.com: Would that be '60s or '70's Beetles?
Chad: '60s Beatles
Hardrock.com: Ed Sullivan?
Chad: Uh, that would be pretty cool. Not that anyone would be able
to hear anything over all the screaming.
Hardrock.com: You'd be screaming "shhhh."
Chad: "Hey, I just came from the year 2000, do you think you
can shut up for just two minutes!"
16. What was the last book you read?
Chad: The last book I read was called "Many Lives Many Masters."
It's about past life regression therapy, going back through this
woman's life who had all these phobias. And it was like the first
past life hypnosis therapy, and it was very bizarre. This woman,
when she was between lives, these voices would come out of her and
they called themselves the masters, and they would reveal things
about the future to this therapist, about his future about his past-a
child, that his wife lost, it was a miscarriage, they already had
the name for the child, and just all kinds of information that there
is no way this woman could have known. It's a really cool book.
17. Do you think you had a past life?
Chad: Yeah, probably, I think that book says that every single life
is like a test. It's like a trial period, and you're just trying
to get it right, and once you actually get it right, that's what
the monks are looking for. They're looking for enlightenment. They're
trying to reach this higher state of being through meditation. And
you also try to mend the things you did wrong in your past life.
Say you were a very hateful person, or a very selfish person, in
this life, the next one, you are trying to do those things right.
And you keep doing it and doing it and once you do it right, you
get to be a higher being. And you don't have to come back and do
the tests again. I also believe that if you are extremely horrible
in one life, you are going to come back in the next one and it is
going to be that much harder. You're going to be set back much further
and it is going to be a much more horrible life. As far as this
life for me, I am thankful for whatever I did right in the last
one because I have a pretty good life.
Hardrock.com: What is your test right now?
Chad: I mean, I know what it is but I can't say. I know three or
four of them. Of the issues I have to get over, things I have to
repair. Come to terms with in my life, some of the things I have
to stop doing. Just my own little demons I have to dispel.
18. If you had five hours to live what
would you do?
Chad: Five hours, for some reason, for some silly reason I think
it has something to do with heights-jumping off of something, or
getting myself into an airplane and just jumping, and get on the
phone for a good hour and tell everyone that I know that I love
them. Any past relationship that I'm still friends with that person.
If I hurt them in any way to tell them that I'm sorry, and that
if we could do it all over again and I could do it right, that I
would. And just try to make amends and make peace and do my thing.
19. If one of your songs became the Canadian
National Anthem, which would it be?
Chad: I don't think one of them will be suited for the Canadian
National Anthem. They all talk about topics that deal with life,
and National Anthems are supposed to be inspiring, and heartwarming,
and they are supposed to give you a sense of patriotism and serve
rally round, and I don't have any songs like that. For my songs,
you just sort of sit back and get into them. Just sort of lean back
and let the song wrap around you and just try to figure out what
I'm saying. You don't seem to have that problem though.
20. "Love All, Serve All" is
the HardRock motto. What does it mean to you?
Chad: Love All, Serve All, that is the HardRock motto? I'm going
to go to a related topic. You know when you go to a concert these
days, a big outdoor festival. It doesn't matter even if they love
the band, they're throwing bottles, they're throwing shoes, they're
getting winged on stage. That motto is not used enough today. I've
played festivals with the Stone Temple Pilots, with the Deftones,
and Godsmack and it doesn't matter who it is, they stop at the song
they are playing or at the end of the song and say, "Hey! We're
here to entertain you. We're here to give everybody a good time
and all you want to do is throw stuff at us," and they still
enjoy the band. That's not why they're throwing things, but when
you get hit in the head with shoes and all kinds of things, you
know, I've watched the Deftones at Zetafest and they said hey, you
know what, we're sick of this, we've played six songs for you guys
and we're not going to baby-sit you, this is the last song we're
going to play! That's when you want to see more "Love All,