Interview with Ryan Peake from Nickelback

To some, it may seem that Nickelback came out of nowhere to achieve huge success throughout North America and the world, however the band is quick to admit it was a long road to get to where they are. The group formed in Hanna, Alberta in the mid 90's, but moved to Vancouver soon after and began recording and touring. Their album Silver Side Up eventually sold nine million copies and they were rewarded with a sling of awards. During Nickelback's first visit to New Brunswick in February of 2004, I caught up with guitarist Ryan Peake for this interview backstage at Harbour Station in Saint John.

GB- Ryan I want to welcome you to the province, but what took you guys so long to find us?

RP - We couldn't find it on a map, actually we weren't that good at social studies in school (laughs). When your an independent band you only have so much gas money, that would usually get us out to as far as Winnipeg and then we would go back to Vancouver. Montreal is the farthest we actually came out.

GB - How is the new material from The Long Road going over live with the fans?

RP - It's going over really well. The album's been out long enough that people have had a chance to digest it. Their singing album cuts that aren't singles yet or may never be singles so its kind of a good indication what people like. I would say I didn't think that one was going to catch on and everybody is singing the song. So it's kinda cool.

GB -It seems like the band came out of nowhere to achieve huge success but I know that is not the case.

RP - I think the media got on it late as we didn't pop out of nowhere. We've been at this since 96 so about eight years at it now. Things didn't start to really happen until we actually signed with an American label out of New York. A little independent label called Roadrunner Records. Then we signed with a label in Canada. We kind of reserved little things for our own. We made a lot of reservations in our contract that we want it this way or that. We've done this thing on our own enough that we want to start calling our own shots, as before we had everybody else calling our shots. Then it started to bubble in the States and maybe that's when it got picked up and made a little bit of noise in Europe, and that's when we decided to go back and do Silver Side Up. Radio stations and video stations get a hold of one song and if it takes off it becomes the fastest six year overnight success you've ever seen.

GB - I'm sure if there was a formula for success in the States you could bottle it and sell it.

RP - Ya, I know a lot of the obstacles as to why it doesn't happen. A lot of it is commerce. If your signed to a Canadian label, and that label tries to get the American counterpart excited about just getting a release in the States, its very difficult to do because they are not an American company band. Their profit margin is that big. This may sound boring and what not but this is the ghosts in the machine, its why it is what it is. They don't even get an opportunity. There is a lot of great bands from Canada, Europe wherever, they don't even get a chance to even be released in the US, just because they can't get their counterpart to get excited about it. We went there first and decided it would be a good move if we could get a guaranteed release in the states first. Then this bleeds over to Canada. We had already done a bunch of work in Canada already and it will bleed out into Europe. If that's the formula then that's one way of doing it.

GB - How did the shows go over in Europe that the band did?

RP- The European shows were great. The people in England, Germany were really good to us. Quite few places like Switzerland, Denmark and Italy were great. Its really weird, I didn't expect that we would see any kind of success that we've seen over in Europe. There is just so many different cultures and languages and how the hell do you expect them to like the same music. France was tough to crack. We went there last time and we got decent reception which was pretty cool.

GB - I once read you spend something like $120,000 US a week on pyrotechnics. Do you draw a lot of that from the late 80's arena rock shows by bands such as Triumph or Kiss?

RP - No, the first show I ever seen was Iron Maiden's Seventh Son of a Seventh Son tour with a little band called Guns N' Roses opening up for them. It was a good concert and I've seen Metallica shows. They already had the songs and the songs were solid. They are playing in a larger venue and a lot more people. So you add a little eye candy as something else that will make things more interesting to the audience. They will go home and say you know I got my money's worth. So that's the approach we are taking. We are not modeling it after a specific show but just doing what we like, what's cool. A boom goes off and blows your ass off the seat and it's kinda cool. You see 15 or 20 foot flames coming off the stage, that's cool (laughs). I don't care what kind of David Copperfield show it is. We thought lets add a few of these things and see if it works and empathize certain points, and so far its worked out really well. I think everyone enjoys it.

GB- I read that in some cities girls are throwing bras up on stage. What's that all about?

RP- That kind of went across the media wire. Its weird as I wasn't expecting it. It starting happening every other show, when we are playing someone would through a bra on stage. Some nights we will get none and some nights we will get 10 or 15. We will be like its ok if there is no bras on stage, and then we will get a steady flow where the women will like a song and then they start to chuck them on stage like crazy. We are going to try do something good with them, either auction them off and donate the money. I don't know who wants to buy that many bras though. We are thinking of donating them to women's shelters or something like that. It just got out of hand and now it's a bit of a contest. Conwall had like 85. It was just a little place like a 5,000 seat venue. We had 92 in Quebec City. Now its a contest. As long as I don't have to carry the bras around (laughs). Someone else can do that. We will need another truck for that.

GB- I seen you guys on the Conan O'Brien show recently in Toronto. Any interesting Conan stories you want to share with us?

RP - We didn't have any real Conan stories. The thing I like was that Scott Thompson was on it and we got to actually meet him, a really cool funny guy and very approachable. Michael J Fox was on there the same day we were on so we got to meet a few people, so that was pretty interesting. Everything went well like clockwork. That's a show we have always been big fans of and we had to wait till he gets to Toronto before we could play the show (laughs).

GB- Are you looking forward to going to the Juno Awards this year?

RP - Ya the Junos will be fun, always a good time. It will be kind of a night off and we will get to see some bands play. That's something I like to do but don't get a chance to as I'm always working so it should be cool. It's nice for your home country to nominate you for a few things and to be recognized for the work you have done so I can't complain.

GB - I understand your recording a lot of stuff on this tour for an upcoming dvd?

RP - We are always recoding stuff for dvd, everything. We are shooting stuff backstage, onstage we shoot stuff every night. Just doing whatever and you never know what your going to catch when you got the record button pressed down. We try to do that once in a while and get some goodies for the next dvd.

GB - What's the near future hold for the band?

RP - We are going to take a couple of weeks off and then go to Australia for a week and a half and then to Europe for about three weeks and then back the States just in time for the summer festivals. We are trying to hit as many things as we can before October and then we are going to probably shut er down for a bit. I think we are going to take some serious time off after this. I don't want people getting sick of Nickelback.

GB - I'm sure they wont. Thanks for taking the time out to talk to me.

RP - No problem. Take care.

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