As Nickelback release their new Get Rollin' album, frontman Chad Kroeger recently got rocking in a feature with Guitar World counting down the 10 guitarists that shaped his sound. But though the list contains 10 excellent rock guitarists, Kroeger says his list will always start with two musicians – Metallica's James Hefield and Pantera's Dimebag Darrell.
“Any time I talk about my influences, I have to mention Mr. Hetfield," says Kroeger with reverence. "I love the way he would build a riff and orchestrate a song on my favorite Metallica records. On top of that, his chainsaw vocals and high screams on tracks like 'Hit the Lights' were incredible. If you’ve ever tried to sing along to that thing accurately, you’ll lose your voice in three-and-a-half minutes."
Another tip Kroeger picked up from Hetfield is his down picking, which Kroeger comments on how it provides the heaviness and groove. "It’s so big when it hits – everyone will either be air-guitaring or air-drumming. I also like to layer things and create that thickness, width and volume in my guitar sound. That’s how you really get that crunch going on!"
The Nickelback leader also revealed that there's a definite Metallica inspiration in their recent hit, "San Quentin." “In the video for 'San Quentin,' the lead single for this new album, I’m playing a black Explorer with EMGs through a Mesa. As soon as you put EMGs into anything and run it through a Boogie, you’re definitely getting that Metallica sound," says the musician. "It doesn’t hurt that I’m emulating James to the best of my abilities during the chorus with the vocal aggression!”
Nickelback, "San Quentin"
As for his other primary guitar influence, it's Kroeger's late friend Dimebag Darrell of Pantera fame. “Between Dime and Hetfield, those are the two biggest influences for me," Kroeger confirms. "The tastefulness of Dime’s riffs and solos is unparalleled. He goes into these bluesy lines, sounding like some Southern bluesman, and then a second later he instantly becomes a metal shredder with all the harmonics and horse squeals with the bar. When he pops that one on the third fret and pulls it back right into key with huge vibrato from the whammy bar, that’s such a signature Dime move."
Kroeger recalled their friendship providing them with the opportunity to get Dimebag Darrell outtakes. In fact, one outtake was chopped up and used to build a solo for the Nickelback song "Side of a Bullet." “To be able to listen to him and only him, and hear his accuracy, would just give you goosebumps. It was absolutely mind-blowing," says Kroeger. "He had a very influential tone, too. That Randall had every ounce of mid gone. It was all high-end and low-end, that’s it!”
Nickelback, "Side of a Bullet"
To check out Kroeger's takes on eight other guitar greats that influences his guitar playing, check out Guitar World's full feature here.