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Nickelback embraces the challenge of music's new landscape

for Journal Register Newspapers

» See more SOUND CHECK

Nickelback hails from the Canadian provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. But guitarist Ryan Peake says the quartet is finding the music industry to be the real "wild, wild west" at this point in time.

Like most bands, Nickelback -- which has notched worldwide sales of more than 50 million -- is feeling the pinch of the commercial decline of the music industry. Its 2011 release "Here & Now" is "only" double-platinum in its homeland and has gone gold in the U.S. after four consecutive multi-platinum releases on this side of the border.

And Peake acknowledges that Nickelback, which built its following via old school radio play and heavy touring, is "just trying to stay relevant" mixing tried and true methods with some new ideas.

"It's a different landscape than it was even three, four years ago," he notes. "We're kind of at a weird point in our career, because if you're the newest, hottest thing then there's ways to capitalize on that. We know we've been around, so we have to approach it kind of differently and we've always approached it very organically.

"So we're trying to figure it out and keep our minds open. I don't know if we're going to have that magic bullet to break through again. I'm not sure how you do it unless you become Justin Bieber's favorite band and he tweets about it and, boom!, you reach a ton of people instantly. "

So perhaps a show of Canadian solidarity from the Biebs? "Hey, we'd be alright with that," Peake says with a laugh.

Meanwhile, Nickelback remains on the road and doing what its fans love best -- playing concerts. This summer's outdoor shows follow an arena run earlier in the year, which means tailoring what was the group's largest production to accommodate the different venues. The repertoire has been tweaked slightly as well, and Peake says he and his bandmates -- brothers Chad and Mike Kroeger and drummer Daniel Adair -- have been pleased with the reception for the "Here and Now" material.

" 'Lullabye,' we didn't now how that was going to come off because it was one of the lighter ones we've done, but people seem to like it," says Peake, who plays piano on that song. But the group was more confident about rockers such as "This Means War" and "Bottoms Up." "I know we've been crucified for having those drinking anthems," Peake says, "but that's kind of what we were shooting for when we were doing that one, a kind of all-around good tune.

"When you're writing these things, you have an idea how they're going to go over live, but you're not really sure, so it's nice when something you thought would click really does."

Nickelback is planning to tour into 2013 promoting "Here and Now" and will also be preparing a greatest hits album to satisfy its expiring record company contract. A next album of all-new material, however, is on the band's back burner.

"We used to try out new stuff on stage or pound them out in sound check a little more than we do now," Peake says. "We tend to live in the moment a lot more these days and try to enjoy ourselves a little more. And because the touring cycle lasts a lot longer, we know we don't have to jump in the studio right away.

"But as soon as we start winding down, we're pretty good at putting pressure on ourselves to start rocking and get the creative juices flowing again. We don't waste any time; we just spend it a little bit differently."

Nickelback, Bush and My Darkest Days perform at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at the DTE Energy Music Theatre, Sashabaw Road east of I-75, Independence Township. Tickets are $89.50 and $69.50 pavilion and $36.50 lawn with a $99 lawn four-pack. Call 248-377-0100 or visit www.palacenet.com.

Web Site: www.palacenet.com

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