Mike Kroeger doesn’t need a real estate agent to stress to him the importance of location.
The Nickelback bassist and his wife recently left their native Canada for two forest-shrouded houses in Hawaii, where they befriended showbiz neighbors like Bob Rock, Todd Rundgren and rock impresario Shep Gordon, who frequently invites the couple to his star-studded home dinner parties.
“The reason people go there is that you can just kind of fade into the palm trees, and nobody knows you’re there,” he says. “And that’s how you do it – you just blend in.”
When Kroeger, 42, bumps into inquisitive islanders, the exchange is almost always the same.
“Somebody will say, ‘Hey, what do you do for a living?’ thinking you maybe work for one of the resorts, and I’ll say, ‘I play music,’” he says, which then leads to: “‘Do you play in Hawaii? Where do you perform?’ And finally, ‘What’s the name of your group?’ When I tell them Nickelback, they’re like, ‘Huh? Never heard of you, sorry.’ And I think, ‘Great – that’s excellent!’ Because I’m not particularly interested in being recognized. I want to look after my family and just live.”
Ever since Kroeger and his kid brother Chad, 40, formed the band two decades ago in Hanna, Alberta, they have written arena-huge anthems with populist, working-class lyrics and Chad’s inimitable barnstorming rasp.
They continue to grow. Their latest eighth album, “No Fixed Address,” features a cameo from Flo Rida on “Got Me Runnin’ Round,” and Mike’s patently political observations on “Edge of a Revolution” (“Hey, hey, just obey/ Your secret’s safe with the NSA”).
“I’m kind of a paranoid person. I can’t write about, say, chasing down a cheerleader, but I can write lyrics about surveillance, mass collection of data, and the police-state environment we live in,” he says.
This no-frills approach also has turned the quartet into a punchline in elitist circles. When Nickelback toured Australia, police jokingly posted APB pictures of its members: “Wanted for crimes against music.”
A man in Britain endured a Nickelback challenge, during which he listened to the group’s CDs for 168 hours straight. There even was an online campaign attempting to ban the Kroegers from ever playing London again. (It failed).
From his lanai, Kroeger laughs about what he calls The Hatersphere. Most of his Hawaiian pals aren’t in showbiz, he points out. “What I learned from them is, there are music fans, and then there’s everybody else,” he says. “And everybody else just likes what sounds good. They don’t read a whole bunch of other stuff into it.”
Editor’s note: Nickelback has canceled the remainder of its 2015 No Fixed Address North American tour due to lead vocalist Chad Kroeger’s impending vocal cord surgery. Ticket refunds for the June 24 show at Shoreline Amphitheatre will be available at the point of purchase. Visit www.livenation.com or www.nickelback.com.