There's something funny about [artist id="760446"]Nickelback[/artist]. Well, actually, there's plenty that's funny about them, but for the context of this article, let's just focus on one rather glaring point: Despite the fact that they have sold something north of 25 million albums worldwide, and are probably one of the 10 hugest rock acts on the planet, they still consider themselves to be complete underdogs.
And they are steadfast in this. They maintain a constant "us against the world" mentality. They grind out tour dates not in weeks or months, but years, because they don't know any other way of operating. They get positively zero respect from rock critics, and are 100 percent fine with this. And all of that is why they chose to name their new album Dark Horse.
"It just came up, this phrase, you know ... 'dark horse,' " frontman Chad Kroeger laughed. "It was like the underdog, and I always liked the underdog. ... There was just something about it, you know, like, 'Always bet on the underdog,' so there you have it. Now it's on the front of many little compact discs out there."
And Kroeger's right. There are many of those discs out there. Dark Horse bowed at #2 on last week's Billboard chart, bested only by Beyoncé's I Am ... Sasha Fierce. The first single off that album — the so-dumb-it's-brilliant "Something in Your Mouth" — is burning up rock radio (and a few feminists too), thanks to lyrics like, "I love the way you dance with anybody/ And tease them all by sucking on your thumb/ You're so much cooler when you never pull it out/ 'Cause you look so much cuter with something in your mouth." And in February, they'll launch yet another globe-spanning tour in support of the disc. You know, just business as usual for one of the biggest rock bands in the world.
"We just do it the way bands used to do it. We didn't adhere to it, we just did it. Record. Album. Go on the road. Stay on the road forever, until everyone is sick of that album. Go back to the studio and make a new album. Go on the road. That's it," Kroeger said. "We want to go back to all those towns and have those people show up and want to sing rock-and-roll songs twice as loud back at us as we are singing it to them, and that's why we keep doing what we're doing. This is a good gig. It's a lot of fun. It's every young kid's dream. ...We all just want to be rock stars and live in hilltop houses driving 15 cars."
And it's those sold-out shows — not to mention that success — that continues to befuddle Nickelback's many detractors. There is nothing many critics and bloggers would like to see more than Kroeger and company fall flat on their faces — which, of course, only makes Nickelback strive harder to get huger. Well, that and a healthy dose of humility.
"I used to have four roommates, and we used to live in this house and it just used to be a bunch of drunk kids barely getting by, trying to get enough money for beer at all times — weed and beer," Kroeger laughed. "Food was definitely low on the priority list for sure. We were just trying to get by and having the best times ever. And I always think about that. ... Oh, and what are these 'blogs' you speak of?"