As the Canadian quartet prepared for the Nov. 21 release of its seventh album, "Here and Now" (Roadrunner Records), the band was named the No. 1 musical turn-off in a poll conducted by Tastebuds.fm, and found itself the target of an online petition seeking to have it removed from a halftime performance at the Detroit Lions' annual Thanksgiving football game. Launched by a Michigan music fan, the online petition drew more than 40,000 signatures and international attention.
But the band remained unfazed, and played the Thanksgiving Day game anyway.
"We get that all the time. We've never really been a critics' darling or anything like that," says frontman Chad Kroeger, who formed Nickelback in 1995 in Hanna, Alberta, with his brother Mike on bass and guitarist Ryan Peake. Drummer Daniel Adair joined in 2005. "The people speak. We sell a lot of records and fill a lot of arenas, and we don't hear many complaints."
The statistics certainly bear Kroeger out. Nickelback has sold more than 50 million albums worldwide, according to the label, and the band's last four releases have debuted in the top 10 of the Billboard 200 -- and at No. 1 in its homeland. Add 17 top 10 mainstream and alternative rock hits, 11 of which have also made the top 10 at adult top 40, and you have a durability and consistency rarely seen anymore.
"Here and Now" finds the band getting "back to basics," Kroeger says, following 2008's triple-platinum "Dark Horse." "This isn't our 'The Wall' or anything like that," he adds. "This is just four guys jumping back in the studio to write and record 11 new songs and make sure each one of them gets as much attention as they need."
Working with Roadrunner, the group launched "Here and Now" with two singles -- the rowdy, hard-rocking "Bottoms Up," which is already a top five hit at mainstream rock, and the more melodic, socially conscious "When We Stand Together," which is top 15 on the Adult Top 40 chart. They've sold a combined 245,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
"We thought, 'Why not do it all at one time -- a song to please the rock fans and a pop song for that side -- and get the train rolling, make two videos and two campaigns and build it up," says manager Bryan Coleman of Union Entertainment Group. "It's maybe the only band out there that can really do that, successfully, on a major scale."
"Most people assumed this is something they'd done all along, throughout the band's career," Roadrunner president Jonas Nachsin says. "They're surprised it hadn't been done before, but it's the result of over a decade-long career of having so many hits at these formats."
Nickelback is gearing up for a busy period around "Here and Now"'s release. The band performed on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" on Nov. 22 and is set to make an appearance on the WWE's "Tribute to the Troops," which airs Dec. 13 on USA and Dec. 17 on NBC. The band will also appear during halftime at the 99th Grey Cup Canadian Football League championship in Vancouver, which will air on TSN and RDS in Canada.
Roadrunner senior VP of marketing and creative services Madelyn Scarpulla says that online, "Here and Now" will "have comprehensive visibility via multiple third-party partners and extensive online advertising." That includes a widget that'll let album buyers access exclusive online content, a custom Facebook app for "Bottoms Up" and a Gold Marketing Pack on Spotify. ITunes also began streaming the album on Nov. 15.
The two-prong radio release will carry over to online and traditional ad campaigns, including TV and radio spots, outdoor billboards and lifestyle and event marketing as seen in Thanksgiving parades in the United States and at movie theaters and malls on Black Friday.
Nickelback's tour, meanwhile, will wait until the spring. "We're trying to go a few singles deep, possibly three or four, before we go out," Kroeger says. "We want to make sure there's familiarity. We don't want to be that band that everybody comes to hear all their favorites, and when there's a new one they all run up to the concourse to get a beer."
Also looming on the horizon is Nickelback's future recording home. The group signed a 360 deal with Live Nation in 2008, and "Here and Now" is the final studio effort under its deal with Roadrunner. "Roadrunner has been an amazing partner for 12 years," Coleman says. "We have a great relationship and may continue that . . . but we need to see how the landscape looks and test the free-agent market."
Nachsin says Roadrunner will release a Nickelback greatest hits album "at some point" and plans to make a hard push to keep the group in its stable. And part of that, he says, is making a solid push for "Here and Now."
"We're approaching this album campaign like we would any other," Nachsin says. "We're highly motivated to promote and market this new album to the best of our abilities . . . and then we'll see what happens. The future is untold. We can only remain hopeful that it involves us in some capacity."