Released in March of 2000, Nickelback’s The State was a firecracker of a debut, with both “Breathe” and “Leader of Men” going top ten on the Mainstream Rock charts and “Old Enough” hitting Top 20 at the format. “It was fantastic,” enthuses guitarist Ryan Peake. “The snowball effect of the album was phenomenal. We started doing well in Canada and then the buzz in the States took over. It totally went off the hook and was a great kickstart for us!” 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. A lot of the songs that comprise Silver Side Up were actually written even before The State was released in America and got road tested in front of eager audiences on cross-country treks, including such anthemic rockers like “Money Bought,” “Hang Nail,” and “Where Do I Hide?”
However, there are still some songs that will be completely fresh to Nickelback’s set lists. One of these is “How You Remind Me”, which is the first single, was written at rehearsals shortly before the band were set to go into the studio. “That’s the cool thing about making music — sometimes the best songs come out in fifteen minutes and totally unexpectedly,” singer/guitarist Chad Kroeger enthusiastically asserts. The song reveals a more emotionally raw side to Nickelback. “How You Remind Me” finds Kroeger singing, “Never made it as a wise man/I couldn’t cut it as a poor man stealing/Tired of living like a blind man/I’m sick inside without a sense of feeling.” Over a quiet bed of melodic guitar. “Those opening lines refer to that time in your life when the person you’re married to or living with starts pointing out all your faults at one time,” explains Kroeger.
Further listening to Silver Side Up, one quickly realizes that Chad’s lyrics have become far more personal and insightful. “I got so much slack from everyone for writing so metaphorically on the last record,” Chad admits. “I thought that if I kept it all metaphorical and vague, then I could keep it all secret.” Well, the secrets are revealed on Silver Side Up, as Kroeger and company squarely face off with their demons. Kroeger becomes uncharacteristically subdued when discussing “Too Bad.” “That’s about my dad,” he says quietly. “The chorus ‘It’s too bad, there’s no time to rewind/Let’s walk, let’s talk’ is about how my father was never around when I was growing up. That’s me just wishing that he had been there. It’s about the wish to turn back time and to fix things that are completely beyond your control.” Another poignant example is “Never Again” a song inspired by bearing witness to countless broken homes “He’s drunk again/It’s time to fight/She must have done something wrong tonight/The living room becomes a boxing ring/It’s time to run when you see him.” Not only is it one of the more lyrically profound songs, it’s also one of the standout tracks musically.
When it came to laying Silver Side Up onto tape, the band decided to work with veteran rock producer Rick Parashar (Pearl Jam, Temple of the Dog). Recorded at the same studio as The State, Vancouver’s prestigious Green House studio, the quartet whipped through the recording of the album in five short weeks. After wrapping up, they handed the finished thirteen tracks over to Randy Staub (Metallica, U2) for mixing at The Armory. The potent combination of Parasher and Staub made Nickelback’s sound grow not only exponentially bigger and better, but also in new directions. Case in point, the epic “Good Times Gone,” which features some spontaneous slide guitar work by Big Wreck guitarist Ian Thornley. The song builds into a climactic chorus as Kroeger reminisces out loud “All the stupid fun/And all that shit we done/Where did the good times go?”
Needless to say, there are many good times yet to come for Nickelback. No matter how big it gets though, Nickelback’s philosophy remains simple — “We just like writing good songs with good melodies that you’ll sing at our shows and remember when you walk away,” asserts Peake. And with an album as well-crafted and catchy as Silver Side Up, these are songs that will stay with you long after the ringing in your ears has faded away.