'A little bit of it is jealousy': Alberta town proud of Nickelback despite haters

Its economy is based on agriculture, oil production, power generation, coal mining and tourism. Take a look inside Nickelback's hometown of Hanna, Alta.

Highway sign outside Hanna, Alta., proclaims 'Proud to be the home of Nickelback'

Members of Canadian rock band Nickelback pose with a signed guitar in the Netherlands in November 2013. While their music has gone international, many of the band members are from a small town in Alberta that proudly stands behind them. (Bas Czerwinski/AFP/Getty)

​Love 'em or hate 'em, chances are you at least know their name.

"Every memory of lookin' out the back door. I have the photo album spread out on my bedroom floor. It's hard to say it. Time to say it. Goodbye, goodbye."

Yes. It's Nickelback — that Nickelback.

The lyrics are from the 2005 Nickelback song Photograph. The music video was filmed in Hanna, Alta., a rural town of 2,673 located 220 kilometres northeast of Calgary.

Its economy is based on agriculture, oil production, power generation, coal mining and tourism. It's the hometown of former Calgary Flames star Lanny McDonald ... and Nickelback.

The Hanna video includes the high school that lead singer Chad Kroeger, his younger brother, bassist Mike Kroeger, and keyboardist Ryan Peake attended. There are also shots of the local train station and the National Restaurant and Bar.

Nickelback, which formed in 1995, is one of the most commercially successful Canadian groups, having sold more than 50 million albums worldwide and ranking as the 11th bestselling music act, but it has also been criticized for the overuse of themes involving strippers, sex and drugs and the formulaic nature of its music.

In May 2013, the readers of Rolling Stone magazine named Nickelback the second worst band of the 1990s, behind only Creed.

A proud hometown

"The town of Hanna welcomes you. Proud to be the home of Nickelback," proclaims the highway sign outside Hanna.

The welcome sign into the small town of less than 3,000 people proudly proclaims, 'Proud to be the home of Nickelback.' (Hanna, Alberta/Facebook)

"There are very many times when I'll be driving into town and there will be people stopped at our Hanna sign, which says home of Nickelback, and they'll be taking pictures with that sign and you know it's because it says home of Nickelback," said Mayor Chris Warwick, who coached Mike Kroeger in peewee hockey.

His wife Angie also babysat the Kroeger boys before they were teenagers.

"Their mother was a dance instructor. She was a single mom and her evenings were always busy so my wife actually babysat Chad and Michael a lot," he said, describing his wife as a big Nickelback fan.

There are no guitar hero statues of Chad and company, but there are a number of murals of their past albums proudly displayed throughout town including on the side of the town arena.

A ninth mural is on the horizon as the group releases Feed the Machine in June.

Murals of home town band Nickleback adorn the curling rink in Hanna, Alta. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Mayor Warwick, who plays in a local band, said the group does at least one Nickelback song as part of its repertoire — sort of.

"We actually do a cover of a cover," Warwick said with a laugh.

"They covered Don Henley's Dirty Laundry. So we cover that version. But we've done Animals."

'They still call Hanna their home'

Warwick disagrees with the Nickelback haters.

"When you hear a Nickelback song you know it's them," said Warwick.

"I think some people just look at them as a cop-out — they're doing the same songs over and over, but as a musician I know that's not true. They're uniquely different from a music point of view," he added.

"I think a little bit of it is jealousy too. The fact they came from a small town and made a big name for themselves."

Hanna Mayor Chris Warwick says many residents in the town are 100 per cent behind their hometown heroes. (Stephanie Wiebe/CBC)

Warwick, whose family has been in Hanna for generations, says the boys from Nickelback remember where they came from.

"The thing that's actually humbling, to me anyway, is the fact that they still call Hanna their home. That says a lot," he said.

"There was obviously an impression made here. The fact they still recognize Hanna as their home is really something."

If happen to go to Hannah, here's some sights:

  • Check out the Nickelback murals throughout Hanna.
  • Visit the The Hanna Pioneer Village and Museum, which includes a full block of historic buildings filled with antiques and turn-of-the-century artifacts.
  • The Doll Palace Museum opened in 1993 and has a collection of more than 3,000 dolls in an array of different styles, sizes and shapes.

Another mural will soon be joining this wall as Nickelback gets ready to release a new album this June. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)