The band is now based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Its name originates from the nickel in change that band member Mike Kroeger gave customers at his Starbucks job, he would frequently say, "Here's your nickel back".
The band is signed to EMI in Canada and Roadrunner Records for the rest of the world. In July 2008, the band signed with Live Nation for three touring and album cycles, with an option for a fourth cycle. The contract includes recordings, touring, merchandise and other rights.
Nickelback started out as a cover band called Village Idiots in 1995. Eventually, they started writing their own songs. Nickelback's first release was a seven-track EP called Hesher in 1996, (which is now an extremely sought-after collector's item). In the same year, Nickelback recorded their first full-length album Curb. "Fly" was released on Hesher and Curb and was the first single produced by Nickelback. It did not chart and was only played on local radio stations.
The following album The State was recorded in 1998 and was released as an independent record the same year. Nickelback signed a record deal with EMI and Roadrunner Records. The State was then re-released in 2000 by EMI and Roadrunner Records. Two singles from the album, "Leader of Men" and "Breathe" were fairly successful and resulted in the album being certificated gold in Canada and the United States. It was certified Platinum in 2008.
In 2001, Nickelback released the Silver Side Up album, which propelled them into the mainstream. The single "How You Remind Me" was a huge success, peaking at #1 on both the American and Canadian charts at the same time. In the U.S., it was a #1 single on the Mainstream and Modern rock charts, as well as the pop chart. It also peaked at #2 on Adult Top 40. "How You Remind Me" became the Billboard Hot 100 #1 single of the year for 2002. The next single was "Too Bad", which also hit #1 on the Mainstream Rock Chart and had a small amount of success on the pop chart. The final single from the album was "Never Again", another #1 hit on Mainstream Rock.
In 2002, Chad Kroeger collaborated with Josey Scott and Gaige Corvo who played the lead guitar on the Spider-Man theme song, "Hero." This also featured Tyler Connolly, Mike Kroeger, Matt Cameron, and Jeremy Taggart.
In 2003, Nickelback released The Long Road. The lead single was "Someday" and the album went on to sell five million copies worldwide. The band also released "Feelin' Way Too Damn Good" as a single, which peaked at #3 on the Mainstream Rock Charts. "Figured You Out" was also released as a single and topped the Mainstream Rock Charts for 13 consecutive weeks.
Nickelback's fifth studio album, All the Right Reasons, produced five U.S. Hot 100 top 20 singles: "Photograph", "Savin' Me", "Far Away", "If Everyone Cared", "Rockstar". Three of these became U.S. Hot 100 top 10 singles. All the Right Reasons has sold 7,163,130 copies in the US as of June 13, 2009. In total, All the Right Reasons has sold abut 11 million copies worldwide since its 2005 release. Aside from all the success of All the Right Reasons, lead singer Kroeger began his own label named 604 Records in 2005 and holds the position of executive producer.
On September 4, 2008 Roadrunner Records announced that the first single from their upcoming album was originally going to be "If Today Was Your Last Day" and was to be released September 30, 2008. However, the song was scrapped as the first single, and "Gotta Be Somebody" added as the lead single instead. The new album, titled Dark Horse, was released on November 18, 2008. The album was produced by Mutt Lange. Something in Your Mouth was released as the second single to rock radio only on December 15, where it reached #1. "If Today Was Your Last Day" was the second major single (third overall) from Nickelback's sixth studio album Dark Horse. It was released on March 31, 2009 as the second U.S. single, and it had been released as the third single in Canada from around November 2008. Two more singles have been released from the album, "I'd Come for You" and "Burn It to the Ground".
In 2004, Nickelback were playing at a heavy metal music festival in Portugal when the crowd started throwing debris at the stage. Front man Chad Kroeger put down his guitar and announced on the microphone, "Have we got any Nickelback fans in Portugal?" As this resulted in only a minimal positive response, he added, "Are you sure? Up to you. You guys wanna hear some rock 'n' roll or you wanna go home?" Kroeger then turned around and he was hit by an object in the back of the head, he then said "See you", before leaving the stage with the finger raised. The recording of the incident was referenced by CTV Television Network, who noted, "A YouTube clip shows the band storming off stage in Portugal after being pelted with rocks and water bottles. The video has been viewed almost two million times".
In various points in their career, Nickelback has received widespread negative reviews from various sources. Review aggregator Metacritic reports the three most recent of their six studio albums since becoming a mainstream act, The Long Road, All the Right Reasons and Dark Horse, to have scores of 62%, 41% and 49% respectively.
They have at times, been ridiculed for their lack of originality. In 2001, Rolling Stone criticised the band's musical style, saying, "if you're looking for originality, you might want a full refund instead of a Nickelback." Rolling Stone also said their 2003 release, The Long Road, was "Brazenly consistent, if unimaginative." Whilst Allmusic also stated, "Nickelback can now afford a little more time in the studio and a little more time to indulge themselves, and they turn out the same record, only slicker, which only highlights just how oppressively and needlessly sullen this group is."
In 2005, Rolling Stone said "All the Right Reasons is so depressing, you're almost glad Kurt's not around to hear it." Tiny Mix Tapes also expressed concern over the release; "Like all Nickelback releases before it, All The Right Reasons was made for all the wrong ones and follows all the formulas and clichés you should be bored to death of by now." Stephen Thomas Erlewin of Allmusic reviewed Dark Horse, claiming that "Nickelback are a gnarled, vulgar band reveling in their ignorance of the very notion of taste, lacking either the smarts or savvy to wallow in bad taste so they just get ugly, knocking out knuckle-dragging riffs that seem rarefied in comparison to their thick, boneheaded words."
Despite a barrage from critics, Nickelback have still managed to please various sources with each of their mainstream albums. Allmusic reviewer Liana Jones complimented Nickelback after their commercial breakthrough, Silver Side Up; "what gives the group an upper hand over its peers is intensity and raw passion... Nickelback ups the ante by offering realistic storytelling that listeners can relate to." Following their 2008 album, Dark Horse, ChartAttack credited the band's success to knowing their target audience, "Chad Kroeger is a genius because he knows exactly what people want and precisely how far he can go. He turned out an extremely racy album that's loaded with songs about gettin' drunk and doin' it all without breaking any taboos, and with enough love and moral authority to grease its passage into the mainstream. Rejoice, North America. This is your world." Billboard also praised the band; "The bulletproof Nickelback provides affordable fun that promises good returns in hard times."
In 2007, USA Today reported that "few bands inspire such intense hatred as Nickelback." The article questioned whether Nickelback's commercial success made "critics wrong", and published multiple statements from various sources within the music industry. Nathan Brackett, a senior editor at Rolling Stone said, "There are some bands that, let's face it, are critic-proof". Both Brackett and Craig Marks, editor in chief of Blender, credit a lot of the band's success to young people who are introduced to them on the radio and "very casual music fans who don't buy a lot of CDs". Marks complimented Nickelback's popularity despite the critical response, saying "it is a tribute to their success."