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Canada's Nickelback started life as a cover band in Hanna, 215 kilometres northeast of Calgary. Eventually, they tired of playing other people's songs and singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger put together a bunch of original songs, borrowed 4,000 bucks off his stepfather, and went to big city Vancouver to record them in a friend's studio. Based on the results, Kroeger's guitarist brother, Mike, and pal bassist Ryan Vikedal all relocated to Vancouver in 1996; that same year, they recorded and released the EP Hesher and full-length Curb independently and embarked on a series of cross-country tours. The group's singer had spent two years selling advertising for a soccer magazine and now applied some of the skills he had learned to his band. He asked his friends to fax and phone radio stations to request their first single until it was played often enough for Nickelback to pick up fans on their own. In late 1998, the band decided their managers were unable to bring them to the next level and started managing themselves. Mike Kroeger handled all the distribution, brother Chad handled all the radio tracking, and Ryan Vikedal handled all the bookings. The group had also invested $30,000 into a new album. The State was released independently in January 2000 during a slow rock period when Canadian content requirements were increased and local rock radio began desperately seeking out homegrown product. What they found was Nickelback's single "Leader of Men." Nickelback toured ceaselessly for The State and 200 shows later, the band had gone from virtual unknowns to playing in front of over a million people alongside the likes of Creed, 3 Doors Down, Fuel, and more. The band's post-grunge commercial appeal wasn't lost on the record industry and The State was snapped up by Roadrunner/Island, Def Jam in the U.S., and EMI in Canada. It eventually sold an impressive 500,000 copies. Many of the songs that comprised the next album, Silver Side Up, were written even before The State was released in America and road-tested in front of eager audiences on cross-country treks. The other significant change about this set of songs was Chad Kroeger's conscious decision to write his lyrics in a more direct manner rather than the metaphoric and vague lyrics of previous releases. "Too Bad" was about the father who was never around when Chad and his brother were growing up. "Never Again" is a song inspired by broken homes. "How You Remind Me," the first single from the album, was written at rehearsals shortly before the band went into the studio. To record the album, the band decided to work with producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog) at the same studio as The State, Vancouver's Green House. The album was completed in five short weeks and the 13 tracks were mixed by Randy Staub (Metallica, U2). The combination of Parashar and Staub, Nickelback's growing popularity, and the quality of the songs sent Silver Side Up into the sales charts around the world, spearheaded by the hit single "How You Remind Me." It was only the second time in history since the Guess Who's "American Woman" that a Canadian band had been number one on both the Canadian and U.S. rock charts at the same time. After their initial mainstream exposure, Kroeger produced Vancouver natives Default and colaborated with Saliva singer Josey Scott for the Spiderman soundtrack. In the summer of 2002, the band re-released Curb since it had fallen out of print years before. Ed Nimmervoll

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