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Nickelback adds twists to tried-and-true sound

Guitar-based hard rock band playing Ridgefield amphitheater

The Columbian
Published: June 19, 2015, 12:00am

Nickelback’s latest album, “No Fixed Address,” finds the Canadian band introducing enough new twists into its guitar-based hard rock sound that some critics have even said it’s the band’s most adventurous album yet.

To be sure, “No Fixed Address” still sounds like Nickelback, and there are songs like “Million Miles An Hour,” “Edge Of A Revolution” and “Get ‘Em Up” that are right in the riff-heavy, hard-hitting yet melodic wheelhouse of the group. But several tracks (“The Hammer’s Coming Down” and “What Are You Waiting For?”) weave programmed rhythms and other synthetic tones and textures into the music.

And a couple of songs qualify as departures. The horn-laced “Got Me Runnin’ Round” is downright funky and even has a rap segment voiced by Flo Rida. Meanwhile, “She Keeps Me Up” is another funky track, with a disco-ish beat and guitar licks that would make the Ohio Players proud.

Such sonic touches help move “No Fixed Address” closer to being in step with the sound of many of today’s pop and hip-hop hits.

But Nickelback frontman and primary songwriter Chad Kroeger says these sonic elements or stylistic stretches were not calculated or pre-planned.

“Well, it’s easy to sit here now and say, ‘Oh, we took all of these risks and we were so adventurous,’ ” Kroeger said in a recent phone interview. “We were just kind of sitting there going, ‘Hey, let’s try something we’ve never tried before.’ It’s really that simple.”

“She Keeps Me Up” is the fourth single off of “No Fixed Address,” an album that has gotten off to a good start for Nickelback.

Its lead single, the topical “Edge of a Revolution,” topped “Billboard” magazine’s Mainstream Rock chart and the follow-up singles, “What Are You Waiting For” and “Million Miles an Hour,” were both top 15 rock singles.

That kind of chart success is nothing new to the group, which formed in 1996 in the small Canadian town of Hanna, British Columbia. The band, which includes the frontman’s brother Mike Kroeger (bass), Ryan Peake (guitars/vocals) and Daniel Adair (drums), broke through with its third album, 2002’s “Silver Side Up.” With “How You Remind Me” leading the way, that album sold five million copies in the United States alone.

The hits have kept coming ever since. The albums that have followed — “The Long Road” (2003), “All The Right Reasons” (2005), “Dark Horse” (2008) and “Here And Now” (2011) — have produced more than 15 hit singles. Each of the albums went platinum, with “All The Right Reasons” selling a staggering 10 million copies worldwide.

In approaching “No Fixed Address,” Nickelback took a bit different approach to the album-making process, a move designed to make life at home easier for the band members.

“A lot of the guys who have families, the one thing they asked was ‘OK, when we go to do this record, can we not do it the way we have been doing it, where we just hole up in a studio, and it’s usually been my studio, for seven months and not see the light of day or our families or anything?’ ” Kroeger said. “They really were like if there’s a chance that we could spend a couple of weeks in each of the (band members’) home bases, that would make home life so much more livable. And so as soon as we thought about that for a second, it was like ‘Well, Mike lives in Maui.’ I have no problem going over to Maui and spending (time there).”

Kroeger himself has seen his personal life change. He married fellow rock star Avril Lavigne in July 2013, after meeting her when he co-wrote and produced some tracks on Lavigne’s 2013 self-titled album.

“We were just having so much fun working on her record together, and then we started traveling around a bit,” Kroeger said. “I was over in Paris with her, and then we went to Mexico together. I think we just kind of got caught up in both of our own whirlwinds. There was that common ground of music.

“If I’m just sitting there noodling around on the guitar and she’s in kitchen cooking something she’s like, ‘Oh, I like that. Play that again,’ ” he said. “And then she’ll start singing something over the top of it. That is something I’ve always wanted. I’ve always wanted that. It’s like ‘Hey, that’s really cool. Let’s run down to the (home) studio and lay that down.’ We’ll go downstairs to the studio and start working on something. That is, for me, that is just a dream come true.”

Kroeger — as well as his Nickelback bandmates — are spending much of 2015 away from home as the group tours behind “No Fixed Address.” Fans can expect a hit-filled set and a visually captivating show.

“We’ve never taken out a (video) screen this big as this insane screen behind us,” Kroeger said. “This thing is like this monster circle that we’ve putting all of these different visuals and all these graphics and stuff (on). … It’s very hypnotizing.”

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