Nickelback's Mike Kroeger talks Chad's vocal surgery, the band's Vegas residency, hatemail and why they can't wait to return to Birmingham
Love them or loathe them, Nickelback is without doubt one of rock's biggest names.
And, after more than 20 years in the music industry, the band is back on the road ready to entertain thousands of fans when they arrive in Birmingham next week.
They 'can't wait' to get back to the Midlands, says bassist Mike Kroeger, who adds the band has 'high expectations for the show and its exuberant fans'.
Nickelback's Birmingham gig in 2015 had to be cancelled due to lead singer Chad being ordered to rest his voice following vocal surgery, after a cyst was found on his voice box.
Mike says this period was an incredibly difficult time for his brother Chad and the band, describing it as 'really scary times' as had the surgery not gone as planned, Chad could have been left mute.
"He got some kind of virus prior to us trying to begin our US tour. When we came to do the soundcheck, he simply had no voice," explains Mike, aged 45.
"Without his voice he couldn’t do the thing he was put on Earth to do. It was really, really sad and tough for us and him.
"Chad was at his most anxious when he was having problems with his voice. Like most singers, their profession is part of who they are. Whoever they are, to have issues with their voice is crushing.
"Ryan and I actually went with him into surgery and sat with him until they administered the anaesthetic.
"They were really scary times. If it hadn’t gone to plan, there was a chance he would have come out with no voice at all.
"But we’re pleased to report that he’s now louder than ever and back in full swing.
"After the surgery, Chad wasn’t really allowed to use his voice to talk or make any sounds for several months. As such, he was forced to operate by text and email
"As an older brother this was kind of cool but, kidding aside, it was so great to hear him again when his voice returned.
"When we came to rehearse, it was clear the rehab had gone really well.
"And he’s now louder and more boisterous than ever.
"I kept the teasing to myself, as we live a fair distance from each other, but he had some fun with it. He found one of these text to voice apps on his phone and found some really hilarious voices - that was fun.
"Losing his sense of humour just wasn’t an option. Even when you’re at your very lowest, your sense of humour is all you’ve got. If you can’t have fun, you’re in trouble.
"I’m a big fan of dark humour. And it runs in the family. I remember, many years ago, my grandmother was very ill. She was on her deathbed. I was sitting with her when her eldest son, my uncle, came in and said ‘mum, you look like sh**’.
"I couldn’t believe it at first, but as soon as he said it she started laughing right away. Then we all started laughing too.
"I guess that kind of humour is just in my DNA."
Being back on the road has seen the Canadian rockers experience something completely new for the band - an achievement many artists can only dream of: performing a five-day residency in Las Vegas.
"Firstly, it had to be a different show to anything else we’ve ever done before because Vegas crowds want it to be bigger and better than anything anywhere else," says Mike.
"Not having to travel between shows was the obvious benefit, but of course Las Vegas is the ultimate entertainment city.
"But as we had a few days off between some of the shows, I actually commuted home. I moved to LA last spring, and it’s really easy to travel between. It was really cool to be able to come home and spend a few days with the family in the middle of the residency."
The group will also bring something a little different when they play Birmingham's Genting Arena on Thursday, in making the show interactive for their fans.
"Though we’re not the first to do it, this time on the tour we’re planning to firm up a number of alternative songs and have people vote for which they’d like to hear. We want to get people actively involved in the show," adds Mike.
"I do have some memories of the Midlands, but I’ve only just stopped drinking so I’m looking forward to making new memories now that I’ll actually remember.
"But we’ve had lots of good times there.
"We cannot wait to return and play to that part of the world."
And while the members are all in their 40s, Mike says he's bizarrely noticed the fans on this side of the world are actually getting younger, rather than older.
"I’m not entirely sure if it’s as a result of people playing our music to their kids or if they’re just discovering it through our use of social media, but it is really cool," says Mike.
"If it is because people are bringing their kids, that’s great. It’s so amazing to see young people in the audience singing along."
Mike has famously had a wonderfully witty response to the remarks made about Nickelback over the years - the band so many seem to love to hate.
And while the abuse seems to have waned, he says, the group is still used as a benchmark by which other 'Marmite' artists are compared.
"I’ve read a number of funny insults people have posted about Nickelback. You really have to separate the wheat from the chaff. There is funny stuff, but there’s also a lot of lame, mean stuff too," adds Mike.
"Someone recently did write that Imagine Dragons are the Nickelback of today. I thought ‘I’m going to take that as a compliment’. If they’re comparing us to Imagine Dragons, I think that’s great.
"They did the same thing with The Chainsmokers too. Now, I don’t know how they feel about that, but I think it’s great.
"It seems like at some point we just became that band to be used as an example."