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Playboy Interview: Chad Kroeger

Playboy Interview: Chad Kroeger:

*******Since 2001 his band, Nickelback, has sold more than 15.5 million records, a total exceeded by only nine contemporary acts. Of those, three are rappers (Eminem, Nelly, 50 Cent), three are country singers (Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Shania Twain), and two are classy balladeers (Norah Jones, Josh Groban). That leaves just one actual band, Linkin Park, which plays a hybrid of rock and rap. For straight rock-and-roll popularity, Nickelback is the king of this century’s first decade. No one was played more often on U.S. radio last year: Nickelback registered almost a million spins. That gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “heavy rotation.” Every 30 seconds another radio station played a Nickelback song. You might expect this Canadian quartet to have a profile that matches its popularity, like top-selling rock bands from the Beatles to Nirvana. But Kroeger rarely gives interviews. One of the most in-depth articles about him appeared in Acreage Life, a Canadian magazine for rural landowners. Kroeger (it rhymes with “cougar”) was born Chad Robert Turton on November 15, 1974. His father, Windy Turton, left the family when Chad was two, and Chad was raised by his mother, Debbie Kroeger, in Hanna, Alberta with his half-brother, Mike Kroeger; Chad later swapped his surname for his mother’s maiden name. A remote blue-collar oil-and-coal town of fewer than 3,000 people in east-central Alberta, Hanna was known mainly (if not only) as the birthplace of hockey Hall of Famer Lanny McDonald. When Kroeger wasn’t running from the police, he would pass hours in his bedroom, learning Metallica and Led Zeppelin songs on guitar. That proficiency led to a cover band called the Village Idiots, and when he began to fear he’d die in Hanna, Kroeger moved to Vancouver. The band rechristened itself, made a cheap demo called Hesher, then the full-length Curb, and hit the road like Napoleon’s army. Finally, a second album, The State, sold enough copies independently to earn a contract from Roadrunner, a heavy-metal label. Silver Side Up came next, in 2001, featuring the group’s breakout hit, “How You Remind Me,” a vindictive breakup song that mixes contempt with self-contempt; it spent four weeks as the number one song in the U.S. Kroeger has called it “our ‘Hotel California,’ our 'Stairway to Heaven.’” Enemies circled around the band: Nickelback was dismissed as derivative, an amalgam of grunge bands from Creed to Alice in Chains. Even cheery American Idol judge Randy Jackson insulted Kroeger: “I swear thatguy is like 45 years old and ugly as sin.” Kroeger’s burly songs, often written from the perspective of an aggrieved or outraged outcast, address ugly topics: domestic abuse (“Never Again,” which ends in murder), absent fathers (“Too Bad”), jealousy (“Just For,” which fantasizes about murder) and prison (“Where Do I Hide”). Two years later The Long Road* launched with the song “Someday,” which sounded a lot like “How You Remind Me.” One Internet wag even created a site that played both songs simultaneously, showing how closely they overlap. The Winnipeg Sun* has tagged Kroeger a “talentless misogynist,” and The New York Times* concluded, “For hard-rock ridiculousness, Nickelback is tough to beat.” Even more definitively, The Boston Phoenix* crowned Nickelback “the worst band since the dawn of music.” But All the Right Reasons, released in late 2005, has proven its most popular album yet, thanks to “Photograph,” an ambivalent reminiscence of life in Hanna (where Nickelback filmed the video), and “Rockstar,” a good-humored fantasy of the high life. Then, over an 11-month period, Kroeger was arrested for drunk driving, getting into a fight outside a Vancouver strip club and punching a stranger who heckled him outside a Vancouver nightclub. Kroeger and his fiancée, Marianne Goriuk, live on a 20-acre compound an hour southeast of Vancouver, a few miles from the Washington state border, with views of the mountains and horse stables on their land. Once Kroeger returned home after two years of touring and promoting the album, we sent Contributing Editor *Rob Tannenbaum to interview him. “Near their house Kroeger has a two-story barn he converted into a recording studio,” Tannenbaum reports, “where he works on songs with Joey Moi, the friend he commemorated in the 'Photograph’ lyric 'What the hell is on Joey’s head?’ It’s a high-tech clubhouse: flatscreen TVs, an array of guitars, video games, a Nickelback poker table on the ground floor. He enjoys arguing and teasing, and when Goriuk joined us he turned into a swaggering flirt. "For a guy who avoids and dislikes the press, he was generous and welcoming. 'Do you want to get into a nice bottle of red wine?’ he asked soon after we started to talk, and he decanted an Australian Penfolds Grange shiraz 1999, which sells for about $600 a bottle. I told him I preferred Châteauneuf-du-Pape, but eight hours later, after we’d finished our third bottle, it tasted pretty good. A few days after our interview I got a beautiful bottle of Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the mail, along with a note: 'Thanks for the great interview. Best, Chad.’ At various times he referred to himself as a redneck, a badass and an idiot. But he’s also a gentleman.” PLAYBOY: The record industry is in turmoil. The labels don’t have a plan, CD sales are collapsing. But Nickelback’s most recent album sold 6.5 million copies. What’s your secret? CHAD KROEGER: Even though we’re both Canadian, Joey Moi and I refer to ourselves as the taste of Middle America. If I like something, all the red states are probably going to like it too, because I have the same tastes as those people. We probably watch the same television shows. PLAYBOY: Do you have middle-American tastes in everything—TV, cars, beer, movies, books? CHAD KROEGER: You could probably scratch books off that list. [laughs] I like car chases, explosions, big boobs—the same things Middle America likes. PLAYBOY: What changes would you make to save the record business? CHAD KROEGER: Well, illegal downloading is the biggest thing. That’s why the music business is in the toilet. But downloading is a backlash against all the bands whose CDs have one good song and 11 shitty ones. The gatekeepers were like, “What’s the Internet?” And now that they’re knee-deep in it and can see their initials on the next noose, it’s a little too late. PLAYBOY: How ironic that Nickelback is losing sales to downloading. You’re a man who knows quite a bit about stealing. CHAD KROEGER: True. [smiles] It could be karma. PLAYBOY: What’s the best thing you ever stole? CHAD KROEGER: Jeez. Someone’s virginity, I’m sure. [laughs] One of the best things I stole I didn’t get charged for, so I don’t want to bring it up. PLAYBOY: We’re sure the statute of limitations has passed. What was it? CHAD KROEGER: I stole a small truck, and I was facing jail time. My lawyer pleaded it down to joyriding. PLAYBOY: What were you going to do with the stolen truck? CHAD KROEGER: No, this line of questioning can’t continue, Your Honor. [laughs] PLAYBOY: Did you steal things often? CHAD KROEGER: I broke into my junior high school about 11 times and found the combination to this huge walk-in safe. God, it was like my personal ATM. I was probably 13. I bought a guitar with the money I stole, video games, all kinds of stuff. PLAYBOY: How did you find the combination to the safe? CHAD KROEGER: It was in the vice principal’s desk. I broke into the school with a couple of buddies and used a small kit of tools to get the doors open. It’s a trick I could easily teach you—I can actually pick small locks. Right on a sticky pad in the vice principal’s top drawer was a combination. It was so elaborate I figured it had to be for the wall safe, which was probably about eight feet tall. You had to brace your foot against the wall to open it up. Once we got in there was money all over the place. We’d take $500 or $600 at a time, and nobody noticed. Over a span of six or eight months I took thousands out of that thing. PLAYBOY: What happened when they noticed money was missing? CHAD KROEGER: Six of us each had to pay $167 in restitution. I was the only one of the six in court that day who got sent to juvenile hall. And I didn’t like the experience. Incarceration’s no fun. PLAYBOY: It sounds as though you were a bad kid. CHAD KROEGER: I don’t know how many times I got kicked out of school. I just thought it was fun to be bad. To a certain degree I still think it’s fun to be bad. You should just never do anything that’s going to hurt someone else. I did a lot of stupid stuff. I remember being drunk and driving someone’s van without a license, then smashing it up. Then, while awaiting sentencing, I got picked up for shoplifting in Calgary. I was trying to go to a Metallica concert. I had to be released into my mom’s custody, and she still took me to the concert. PLAYBOY: What did your mom think about your bad behavior? CHAD KROEGER: My mom knew I was a chip off the old block. PLAYBOY: What kind of guy is your dad? He left home when you were two. CHAD KROEGER: My dad is a fighter. He got a lot of assault charges. That’s what he was good at: fighting. My mom probably liked that he was a badass. I think she enjoyed tormenting my grandfather by dating the toughest guy in town. There’s a Nickelback song called “Should’ve Listened,” with the line “A little trick I picked up from my father / In one ear and out the other.” I can definitely thank him for that one. [laughs] PLAYBOY: Was your dad a violent guy? CHAD KROEGER: Yeah, a lot of violence. I would hear stories from his friends about my dad beating up three bikers at a time. At his peak he was probably about six-foot-three and 260 pounds. PLAYBOY: Was he ever violent with your mom? CHAD KROEGER: I don’t think so, but my mom may tell a different story. PLAYBOY: Was he ever violent with you and your brother? CHAD KROEGER: He never raised a hand to either of us, and I don’t think he could. It was tough for him growing up, because he was the boy named Sue—he really was. His name is Wendall, and everybody called him Windy. Guys would come to the bar from other towns and go, “So you’re Windy?” Then he got on a rodeo circuit, doing bareback, saddle-bronc riding or roping. They would go to rodeos, then go to a bar and pick up women and fight. That’s the stereotype of the rodeo circuit, and it’s probably what attracted my father to it. PLAYBOY: Americans have an image of Canadians as being polite, maybe a little more educated than we are. We don’t really think of Canada as having—- CHAD KROEGER: Rednecks? You’re talking to one. That’s why I bought 20 acres, because I want to build an ATV track in the back. At one point I called a buddy who sold used cars, and I said, “I want a whole bunch of shit cars brought up to my house. We want to smash out the windows, put on some helmets and have a demolition derby.” It’s amazing how much damage those little cars can take and still run. Wouldn’t you like to try that? PLAYBOY: It sounds like fun. CHAD KROEGER: Yeah. So there may just be a little redneck in all of us. PLAYBOY: On your mom’s side you come from a prominent Canadian family. CHAD KROEGER: My grandfather was the minister of transportation for Alberta. I guess that would be the equivalent of a senator. My grandfather essentially was my father. I learned a lot from him, and I saw the respect he was given. So it was very strange. Anytime I was with my grandfather we could be traveling in a private government jet, then the next minute I’d be living in a trailer. Two completely different worlds. I tasted what it was like not to grow up poor, and I liked it. Then he died when I was 13, and I got to know what it was like to be really broke. I had to wear a ski suit to bed because we didn’t have any heat in the winter. That wasn’t a lot of fun. PLAYBOY: Was there food in the house? CHAD KROEGER: At one point when I was 14 my mom got addicted to a prescription medication of some kind, so she went through this dry-out program. When I got released from juvie and went home, it was just my brother, Mike, there. He wound up getting some type of food stamps from the government. We went into a store, and they didn’t want to take them at first. Mike said, “If you don’t cash this, we’re not going to be able to eat.” The woman in the store lived in our town, and she was probably going to tell everybody that story. That experience was just awful for me. I would have starved before I’d go through that. [exhales] There’s some shit right there that I’ve never told anybody. PLAYBOY: Without your brother, would you have starved? CHAD KROEGER: I probably would have kicked in the front door to the store at one in the morning and grabbed a bunch of food. PLAYBOY: Your dad was gone, your mom was in rehab, your grandfather was dead. There wasn’t much supervision. You probably got away with whatever you wanted. CHAD KROEGER: I didn’t go to school. I mean, after the eighth or ninth grade, I don’t remember going to school five days out of the week, ever. PLAYBOY: What did you do instead? CHAD KROEGER: Whatever the fuck I felt like. [laughs] I was a bad kid. PLAYBOY: And you never graduated from high school. CHAD KROEGER: I was a few credits short of a diploma, and I just had no desire to go back to school, because I had a band waiting for me. We’d already learned 40 or 50 covers and had a booking agent. I was on the road a week after I got out of school. PLAYBOY: How did you get the money to make a record? CHAD KROEGER: Once I got out of school my dad bought me a car for $1,000. I couldn’t get insurance, so I stole a license plate and stuck it on the back of the car, covered in mud so you couldn’t tell what the letters were. I had just gotten out of jail, with a court date coming, and I was going to get charged for another breaking and entering and attempted theft—that’s a bit of a recurring theme. PLAYBOY: It’s hard for us to keep track of all your arrests. CHAD KROEGER: I had a game plan. I convinced my stepfather to lend me $4,000 to make a demo—that became Hesher—and I promised him we would pay him back $5,000 in six months, after we had pressed 1,000 copies and sold them for $10 each. I took $1,000 and bought magic mushrooms, and I was going to sell them in Hanna to pay for all the unforeseen costs. PLAYBOY: Where did you get the confidence that you would be able to pay back the $5,000? CHAD KROEGER: Oh, I’m a con artist. [laughs] I came up with this whole business plan that sounded incredible, and I conned him. He was like, “Not only am I going to help you out, I’m going to make $1,000 on my investment in six months!” Who wouldn’t be interested in that? It took a couple of years, but I think we probably gave him $10,000. PLAYBOY: Where did the name Nickelback come from? CHAD KROEGER: My brother was working in a coffee shop where everything was $2.95, $3.95 or $4.95. He was constantly saying, “Here’s your nickel back.” He suggested it as a name, and I loved the fact that it didn’t mean anything. It didn’t denote what kind of music we played. It wasn’t Facegrinder. PLAYBOY: Let’s go back to the mushrooms. What else did you sell? CHAD KROEGER: I sold a little weed here, some mushrooms there. I had to subsidize the income somehow. I knew a lot of people who had weed, and a lot of people working on the oil rigs needed weed. I could get it. That seemed like a no-brainer. PLAYBOY: So is the song “One Last Run” from The State autobiographical? CHAD KROEGER: Absolutely it’s autobiographical. I can’t believe some of the shit I’m telling you. So this one time, I buy a case of beer and borrow this girl’s truck, and she and I drive 45 minutes to the nearest city. I buy some weed, and we’re driving back. We’ve got beer bottles all over the floorboards, and we’re laughing, with the tunes cranked. Next thing I know, we’re heading into a ditch. I see this metal pole coming at us, and I steer just to the left of it. Beer bottles are flying all around. I bring us back onto the road and bring the truck to a stop. Grass from the side of the road is collected a foot high around the entire truck, so the truck looks as if it’s wearing a hula skirt. We get all the grass pulled off, and who pulls up? A cop. I’ve got an ounce of weed down the front of my pants. As he rolls down the window, I say, “We’re just waiting for two friends. They had to stop for gas.” He rolls up his window and drives away. That was “One Last Run.” PLAYBOY: Your master plan worked, and the whole band moved to Vancouver. Was that a shock after living in Hanna? CHAD KROEGER: I left an entirely different world behind me when I came to Vancouver. I had really long hair and a big goatee—I looked like trouble, and it was difficult for me to get a job. God, the things I did. I sold seafood door-to-door. Can you imagine? I remember sitting on the floor of my apartment because I had no furniture. I didn’t even have utensils. I had enough money to buy noodles, and I remember eating them with my fingers and feeling sorry for myself. PLAYBOY: Just noodles and butter? CHAD KROEGER: Who could afford butter? [laughs] I guess the stealing didn’t stop, because I remember going to a restaurant after that and grabbing some utensils. I’m kind of like a cockroach. I’ll pretty much do anything to survive. Then I got this idea: I had my mom lie and say she lived on a $2.5 million property, and we secured a lease on a five-bedroom house. I rented it out to college kids and got to live for free, just by being a slumlord. PLAYBOY: What did you do after you quit selling seafood? CHAD KROEGER: Telemarketing. God, I was good at that—sucking money out of poor old ladies. In fact, I got promoted. They finally said, “You have to be here all the time.” I was forced to make a decision between the job and my band. I was like, Well, this is a no-brainer. PLAYBOY: You probably could have had a great career as a salesman. CHAD KROEGER: Oh, I’m sure. But—- PLAYBOY: Or maybe you have had a great career as a salesman. CHAD KROEGER: I was deciding whether or not I should say that. [laughs] Look, my band was everything even when it was nothing. And I will never put another human being in front of my band. Ever. Do you have any idea how hard it is to tell a woman you love that if it ever came down to her or the band, she’d be packing her suitcase? I mean, you never want to explain it quite like that. PLAYBOY: So you were a slumlord and a petty thief in Vancouver. That must have left plenty of time for the band. CHAD KROEGER: The telemarketing was all the training I needed to get on the phone with program directors at different radio stations across Canada. If I could get them to play my song, my brother could get our CDs into every store outside their city. We sold 10,000 copies of The State in a short period of time. Then we got signed for $200,000 U.S., which was $300,000 Canadian at the time. PLAYBOY: How small was your hometown, Hanna? CHAD KROEGER: About 160 people went to my school. You knew everyone’s name. PLAYBOY: What was the biggest thing to happen in Hanna while you were growing up? CHAD KROEGER: One night when I was about eight I heard screaming in front of my house. Two older guys lived right across the street; they would have been somewhere between 17 and 21. One of the guys was sleeping with someone else’s girlfriend, and the boyfriend found them there together. I remember being terrified by the amount of noise—it sounded like someone was having a leg cut off. The girl was screaming, a truck engine was revving. I found out later that the boyfriend tied her up by the railroad tracks and drove over her several times, back and forth over her body. When the police went to arrest him, they found a newborn baby in a suitcase at the house. I think he pleaded insanity and got off. Not too long after, he shot himself with a rifle on a back road. So I had to go down and testify. That was a pretty big thing for me. PLAYBOY: All the stuff you’ve experienced—poverty, death, violence, drugs—seems to come out in your songs. They’re pretty dark and angry. CHAD KROEGER: They used to be. “Rockstar” and “Photograph” don’t feel dark and angry. PLAYBOY: No, but “Follow You Home” is not a happy song. Neither is “Next Contestant.” And “Animals” takes a very scary turn, after a young couple messes around in a car. CHAD KROEGER: That exact thing happened to my mom and dad, and my grandfather was holding a shotgun. It actually fucking happened! My dad pushed my grandfather down and started running. My grandfather fired into the air, but my dad didn’t know that. He thought the shots were coming his way. It’s autobiographical; it’s in my lineage. If I stopped now and never left this compound again and just had to tell stories from my lifetime, I could release 10 more albums easily. I had a great friend when I was young, a guy you could talk into doing anything. His name was Corey. I took him and a select group of people into my school and showed them how to get into the safe. Then Corey started stealing cars, and it never ended—until he was sent to prison. On his 18th birthday he was trying to get high in prison, and a guard sold him some type of detergent, which Corey injected into his arm. He died in prison at the age of 18. Had I not taken him into that school the first time, he wouldn’t have gone down that hole and wound up injecting cleaner into his arm. I feel a little responsible. That’s an awful feeling. That’s one of a thousand stories. I watched a guy kill himself once. My grandmother was in the hospital having an operation, and I saw a guy jump from the psych ward on the fifth floor and land just outside the cafeteria. It was awful. Two of a thousand stories. I’ve seen some weird, awful shit in my life. PLAYBOY: Have you ever seen a therapist? CHAD KROEGER: I was forced to after I got out of the youth detention center. The woman who was trying to treat me ended up having 16 personalities. That’s three of a thousand stories. There’s no shortage, is there? PLAYBOY: Do you have any recurring dreams? CHAD KROEGER: Nothing noteworthy. PLAYBOY: Bullshit. CHAD KROEGER: I should have tried to sell that one to you a little harder. PLAYBOY: Here’s why we want to know about your dreams—- CHAD KROEGER: If you want to sleep with me, just ask. [laughs] PLAYBOY: You grew up seeing “weird, awful shit,” as you said, and despite the circumstances you’ve made a pretty happy life for yourself. So it seems as if your songs and your dreams are where bad things still happen. CHAD KROEGER: It used to be. I used to think about all the people who wanted to fight me or harbored ill will toward me for something in the past. I wasn’t the same person I am today. Two totally different people. If you like me now, you wouldn’t have liked the Chad from before. PLAYBOY: How did you change from bad Chad to good Chad? CHAD KROEGER: Let’s start with being famous. I equate being famous with being a six-foot-tall gorgeous blonde with huge boobs. You get stared at all the time. People behave differently toward you. But I always say, if you get on a roller coaster and then complain about the loop-de-loop, why did you buy that ticket in the first place? I enjoy waking up every day and being me. Being the lead singer in a successful rock band is cool. I’ve experienced ridiculous pleasure that a lot of people will never get to experience. I have a really good grasp of reality. I have a good grasp of what people think of me. I don’t have delusions about my band. I know what a lot of people think about us, and I’m okay with that. PLAYBOY: How radical was the change? Has the new Chad sworn off violence? CHAD KROEGER: I still like a little bit of violence. I like wrestling with my friends. I like getting smacked in the face now and again. It lets you know you’re still alive. PLAYBOY: Before you met your fiancée, how much screwing around did you do? CHAD KROEGER: I’m the singer in a rock-and-roll band. PLAYBOY: That’s a very coy answer. CHAD KROEGER: You know anything about zodiac signs? I’m a Scorpio. A Scorpio is pretty much a walking penis. Getting that under control is difficult. Also, I was born in 1974, the year of the tiger, which means I’m a shrewd businessman and I pretty much want to take over the world. I’m a walking penis that wants to take over the world. So you can imagine. PLAYBOY: How long did the thrill of having women throw themselves at you last? CHAD KROEGER: What, you think it’s over? [laughs] That would be silly. It’s like farts—when do farts stop being funny? PLAYBOY: So what happened on tour once “How You Remind Me” became a hit? CHAD KROEGER: I had three band members who weren’t interested in doing much, and I’m the singer of the band. So I didn’t exactly have to squabble with anybody. You know what you’d be shocked at? You’d be shocked at how many bands don’t party these days. I actually find that disturbing. Maybe they need mentors. PLAYBOY: Who were your mentors? CHAD KROEGER: The people I grew up with. I grew up with people who would push a nail through their own hand for a case of beer. PLAYBOY: Did you ever push a nail through your hand? CHAD KROEGER: No. I’ve done some stupid shit, though. PLAYBOY: What’s the stupidest thing you ever did for a case of beer? CHAD KROEGER: I put my own dick in my mouth. I was 14 and much more flexible at the time. It was soft and required a lot of pulling. I really wanted that case of beer. PLAYBOY: How many people were watching? CHAD KROEGER: Two. I can’t believe you’re not even shocked I can put my own dick in my mouth! PLAYBOY: Okay, if you can put your dick in your mouth right now, we’ll buy you a case of beer. Any kind you want. CHAD KROEGER: You know, the stakes aren’t quite the same anymore. I want jet time. You get me 25 hours of NetJets, and I’ll put my dick in my mouth. PLAYBOY: So you like being dared to do things? CHAD KROEGER: There’s not much I won’t do. I drank 13 Coronas in a row once, in Cabo San Lucas. The little flap that seals off your stomach and keeps the food from coming back up into your throat, I fucked that up. I can get a Corona down in five or six seconds, and I was racing against some kid. I was having a hard time beating him. I was like, Okay, I may not be able to beat this kid in speed, so I’m going to beat him in longevity. Then he got to six and was like, “I can’t drink anymore.” I put him in a headlock, took two of my fingers and stuck them down his throat, leaned him over a garbage can and forced him to puke. [laughs] Yeah, I’m an idiot. PLAYBOY: We’ve heard you often take out your dick in public. CHAD KROEGER: Is this what Playboy readers want to know? Do you want to see my dick? [Marianne Goriuk, Kroeger’s fiancée, enters the room.] PLAYBOY: We’ve heard your boyfriend likes to take out his dick in public. Goriuk: I’ve been working on curbing that for the past five years. I don’t want anyone else to see it or talk about it. I can talk about it. But trust me, it’s huge. PLAYBOY: When you met backstage, did Chad impress you? Goriuk: The impressing came later on, when he continued to try. PLAYBOY: Onstage that night Chad said, “I have a funny feeling my future wife is in the crowd tonight.” Did you have any feeling your future husband was onstage? CHAD KROEGER: She knew. PLAYBOY: Sure. Although generally, once you put the ring on her finger, you follow through and actually get married. You’ve been “engaged” for five years. CHAD KROEGER: Fucker. [laughs] PLAYBOY: How do you cope with his sexual appetite? Goriuk: Mine is twice as bad. [laughs] PLAYBOY: You said earlier, “I know what a lot of people think about my band.” We have a note card here with some of the worst things ever written about Nickelback. CHAD KROEGER: I don’t even care. Do you know what it takes to be a music critic? Not much. Opinions are like assholes: Everybody has one. PLAYBOY: But we’re curious to see if you agree with some of them. The Vancouver Sun described Nickelback as one of the most despised bands in the world. Do you think that’s true? CHAD KROEGER: People either love Nickelback or hate Nickelback. PLAYBOY: The Los Angeles Times wrote, “Nickelback’s music isn’t for hipsters or the illuminati. It’s for people who don’t want to have to think.” CHAD KROEGER: At what show, besides Frank Zappa’s, is someone trying to get people to think? Rage Against the Machine is the only band I can think of. I don’t peg you as a Nickelback fan, but I heard you humming a Nickelback song earlier. PLAYBOY: It’s a catchy song. CHAD KROEGER: I rest my case. PLAYBOY: You know how to write a catchy song. CHAD KROEGER: I’m just an absolute melody whore. I love Elton John, the Beatles. Bob Marley is one of my favorites. The most uncharacteristic music I listen to is probably Abba. The songs are unbelievably catchy. PLAYBOY: Is that all you want from your career, to write catchy songs? CHAD KROEGER: That could be the Canadian in me, wanting to please other people. My persona onstage, that Chad is a different guy. I become the fun guy, the party guy. I want to whip everybody into a frenzy and scream and blow things up. It’s like I have my own game show and everyone gets to be a contestant. I’m there as an entertainer. Some bands get up with no lights and no production, and they say, “It’s all about the songs.” Hey, if it’s all about the songs, I can listen to the fucking CD at home. I’m here to see you live. Perform, monkey! [laughs] PLAYBOY: Do vicious reviews get to you? CHAD KROEGER: There’s only so much you can take. You get pretty desensitized. We’ve had people say a lot of bad things about us. How is it possible to have everyone hate us? It’s almost like, if you’re dating a girl, do you want her dad to love you or hate you? She may like you more if her dad doesn’t like you. If we ever get a positive review in Rolling Stone, that album is in trouble, because those people cannot predict what a large-selling album is. They bashed the fuck out of Led Zeppelin years ago, and now they call it one of the greatest rock bands of all time. That just makes them look like hypocrites. Who’s the most famous music critic who ever lived? They’ve never made a statue of a critic. PLAYBOY: Will Nickelback be vindicated 30 years from now, the way Led Zeppelin has? CHAD KROEGER: I don’t know if we’ve been decimated to the level Zeppelin was. Maybe we have, maybe more so. PLAYBOY: Has a review ever caused you to lose sleep? CHAD KROEGER: Probably. But if I had lost sleep, do you think I would tell a music critic? I’ve been bummed out for a day, sure. Like, Wow, this person is taking my band more seriously than I am. If my music is fucking up your life, change the station, dude. At the end of the day, I’m just some guy who sings in a rock-and-roll band. I’m not Hitler. PLAYBOY: If we gave you a drug test, what would we find? CHAD KROEGER: A decent amount of marijuana, and that’s it. I’ll smoke a doob a day. PLAYBOY: You have 20 acres out on your back lawn. Is anything illegal growing on it? CHAD KROEGER: [Shakes head] We should fix that. With the amount of horseshit we have, why can’t we plant some magic mushrooms? PLAYBOY: Chad, what will you be doing on your 50th birthday? CHAD KROEGER: I won’t be alive. PLAYBOY: Have you two ever videotaped yourselves having sex? CHAD KROEGER: We were in Cabo San Lucas. Where is that tape? PLAYBOY: Who were you in a previous life? CHAD KROEGER: In my last life I must have been a saint because I get to screw a good-looking chick and be the lead singer in a fucking successful rock-and-roll band. I sleep until noon every day, and I’ve got more money than I can spend in two lifetimes. [to Goriuk] C'mon, let’s go have sex. It’s our third bottle of wine, and I’m getting horny. PLAYBOY: Chad, how would you describe your taste in sex? CHAD KROEGER: [To Goriuk] I’m pretty much a porn star, aren’t I? PLAYBOY: What would your ex-girlfriends say about you? CHAD KROEGER: They probably love me to this day. I talked with one of them after she started dating another guy, and she said, “I think you’ve ruined me for all other men.” I couldn’t help but smile at that. PLAYBOY: What’s the most and least amount of money you’ve made in a year? CHAD KROEGER: I guess $8,000 would be the lowest, and that’s probably on the high side. The most money I’ve made in a year is $25 million, this past year. Next year’s going to be a good one. You may want to make my Christmas list. PLAYBOY: Why will next year be good? CHAD KROEGER: We’re going into a renegotiation with our record label. PLAYBOY: How will you get them to renegotiate? You haven’t fulfilled your contract yet. CHAD KROEGER: My leverage is not to record. PLAYBOY: So you’ll threaten not to give them another record unless they give you what you want. What will you ask for? CHAD KROEGER: A partnership with them. Labels can’t be 50-50 partners with band after band and have them fail, fail, fail, right? So when they get a band that sells records the way we do, they have to cover the losses of all the rest. That’s why a contract is so skewed in the label’s favor. Live Nation just offered us a deal to play 100 shows. You can’t even imagine the money. It’s in the neighborhood of the deal they did with Madonna [reportedly $120 million]. It’s retarded. After partying all night at Joey’s house, I woke up to a phone call from my manager, and he goes, “Live Nation just offered us da-dada.” And I went, “Wooo.” He said, “Where are you? Are you drunk?” I hung up the phone, and for two days I didn’t even fucking remember it. PLAYBOY: In “Rockstar” you sing about all the perks of being a celebrity. How many of the things you name do you actually have? CHAD KROEGER: I’m missing only two: I don’t have a star on Hollywood Boulevard, and I don’t have a big black jet. Seriously, I think rock stars are dead. I don’t think you can be a rock star anymore. But if behaving and partying like a rock star are the criteria, then I am a rock star—because I can drink most bands under the fucking table. I will party till noon the next day, much to her dislike. And I fuck like a champ. PLAYBOY: They sound a lot like Nickelback. So does Daughtry. Are you flattered? CHAD KROEGER: Everyone gets compared to someone else at the start. People said we were Creed’s little brother. I’ve never been a Creed fan, so I considered that comparison a little insulting, to be honest. PLAYBOY: What prompted the opening line “I like your pants around your feet” in the song “Figured You Out”? CHAD KROEGER: I was thinking about a girl I met, a model in L.A. You meet someone, the sex is good, you think, Well, this is going to be really cool. She had a cocaine habit and wasn’t who I thought she was. PLAYBOY: Can you see why people think the song is misogynistic? CHAD KROEGER: The line about “I like my hands around your neck”? PLAYBOY: Yes. CHAD KROEGER: Critics were the only ones who thought that. All I ever heard from Nickelback fans was “Play the 'hands around your neck’ song again.” PLAYBOY: Forget critics and fans. Do you think the song is misogynistic? CHAD KROEGER: Not at all. I was trying to show the light and dark of relationships. PLAYBOY: Have you ever had a Spinal Tap moment onstage? CHAD KROEGER: Once when we were in Brisbane I said, “I can’t wait to go out and party in Melbourne.” Our guitarist Ryan Peake looked over at me, and I said, “But tonight we party in…Brisbane!” They all knew, but they forgave me because I got out of it so fucking slick. That was pretty funny. PLAYBOY: What’s your IQ? CHAD KROEGER: One hundred thirty. I took an IQ test during Psychology 20 in high school. PLAYBOY: Haven’t you lost a few IQ points since then? CHAD KROEGER: Do you know the difference between intelligence and wisdom? Intelligence can be learned out of a book, but wisdom can be learned only through experience, right? Two bulls are standing at the top of a hill, looking down at all the cows. The young bull says, “Let’s run down there and fuck the two best-looking cows we can find.” The older bull says, “Why don’t we just walk down there and fuck them all?” That’s wisdom.

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