Nickelback brings on hits, spectacle

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If you go

• What: Nickelback, in concert with Bush, Seether and My Darkest Days.

• When: 6:30 p.m. June 21.

• Where: Rose Garden Arena, 1 Center Court, Portland.

• Cost: $39.50-$75.

• Information: 877-79-7673 or Rose Quarter

When it comes to putting on a rock show, Chad Kroeger, frontman of Nickelback, admits he’s always been a bigger-is-better kind of guy. But even he wondered if he had gone too far during preproduction for the band’s current arena tour.

“We actually, we scaled a couple of things back just because it was getting to be, it was just so production intensive, you know,” Kroeger said in a mid-April teleconference interview.

But don’t start thinking Nickelback is just going to stand on a bare stage and play its songs during its concerts this year.

“I just don’t think this (show) even compares to anything we’ve done before. It’s so over the top,” Kroeger said. “We’ve got this flying stage that comes down and picks us up and takes us across the arena and starts spinning.”

And that’s just the start of the spectacle, he said.

“It’s just absolute insanity. You know, we’ve got this massive screen. It splits apart in six different sections,” Kroeger said. “We get on these conveyor belts. And they, like, transport us from, you know, parts of the stage to other parts of the stage.”

And pyro? Yes, Kroeger confirmed, expect plenty of that, too.

Not just any band can afford to put on such a spectacular show. But Nickelback isn’t just any band when it comes to popularity.

Formed in 1996 in the small Canadian town of Hanna, B.C., the band, which includes brother Mike Kroeger (bass), Ryan Peake (guitars/vocals) and Daniel Adair (drums) -- broke through with its third CD, the 2002 release “Silver Side Up,” which included the hit “How You Remind Me,” which was Billboard magazine’s “Hot 100 song of the year” for 2002.

Since then, the multi-platinum albums and the hit singles have kept coming, most recently with the 2005 CD “All The Right Reasons” and then 2008’s chart-topping CD “Dark Horse” that went on to spawn six hit singles, including the No. 1 pop hit “Gotta Be Somebody.”

So far, “Here And Now” has topped 500,000 copies sold in the States, and with the band’s tour starting and two new singles -- “Lullaby” and “This Means War” -- hitting radio, the CD looks poised to gain momentum.

Despite the kind of success Nickelback achieved with recent albums, Kroeger and Peake (who also participated in the teleconference interview) said in starting work on “Here And Now,” there wasn’t much thought given to whether to try and return to what had been a winning musical formula -- or to follow any specific blueprint for the CD.

“It’s not a lot of conscious effort,” Kroeger said. “I think the only conscious thing that we really pay attention to in the studio is like, OK, you know, we’ve got this melodic song out of us. I think it’s time for a rock song. And then we just sit there and try to write a rock riff.”

“The one thing we always try and do is have a big balance,” said Kroeger, who said “Here And Now” is one of his favorite Nickelback CDs. “You know, we don’t really want 11 or 12 metal tunes, we don’t want 11 or 12 ballads.”

“Here And Now” indeed covers all the bases. It has its testosterone-fueled big rockers that verge on metal (“Midnight Queen,” “This Means War” and “Bottoms Up”), slightly lighter anthems that blend poppy melodic elements in with rock (“When We Stand Together” and “Don’t Ever Let It End”), as well as the expected power ballads (the piano-laden “Lullaby” and “Trying Not To Love You”) that show a more sensitive side.

While a lot of people obviously like Nickelback, the band also has what seems to be a significant and loud number of haters. The group has never been embraced by music critics, and in recent months, Nickelback has taken some well-publicized shots.

Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney hit the headlines when in a Rolling Stone magazine story he labeled Nickelback’s music “watered-down, post-grunge crap” and said the band’s success was a sign of the death of rock ’n’ roll.

An even more publicized situation arose after it was announced that the group would play at halftime of the Detroit Lions’ Thanksgiving Day football game: an online petition drive was launched to ban Nickelback. Some 40,000 people signed the petition, which, by the way, was unsuccessful.

Historically, the band has ignored the barbs, but lately it has been responding -- with humor -- and through the Internet.

“We’re just laughing while we do it,” Kroeger said. “I mean, it’s just like when you got guys all sitting around together, you know, we’ll hear about something and, you know, we laugh. You know, whoever comes up with the most comedic thing, it’s like, ‘Oh, that’s good. We have to tweet that.’

“That’s one of the good things about Twitter and Facebook and everything,” he said. “It’s like when you come up with something really comedic and you want to share it with the world, you actually can.”