NICKELBACK Bassist MIKE KROEGER On PANTERA: 'They Were Our Brothers'

December 10, 2020

NICKELBACK bassist Mike Kroeger spoke to Australian Guitar about his band's song "Side Of A Bullet", which was inspired by the death of PANTERA and DAMAGEPLAN guitarist "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott. "Side Of A Bullet" was originally included on NICKELBACK's "All The Right Reasons" album, which celebrated its 15th anniversary in October with the release of an "expanded edition," featuring a newly remastered version of the original 2005 LP, a selection of B-sides and a 2006 live concert recording. The track contains a previously unheard guitar solo from Abbott that was edited together from outtakes off various PANTERA albums.

Asked how NICKELBACK was able to use a guitar part from Dimebag in "Side Of A Bullet", Mike said: "We'd known the PANTERA guys since a really early time in our career. They were fans of ours from the beginning, and we would always see them out on the road or whenever we would go through Dallas; they would come out and ply us with alcohol. It was always fun to be around those guys. They were our brothers. And then when Dime was murdered, we wanted to pay tribute to him. We were able to get some of his unused solos and a few other bits of his playing that we would actually lay into the track… It was a really special thing for us.

"The guy was a legend, as well as his brother [late PANTERA drummer Vinnie Paul Abbott] — that whole band was, y'know? They didn't give a f***. I mean, if you know anything about PANTERA, you know they didn't give a f***. They were just doing what they did. A lot of people didn't like the fact that they were friends with us, or fans of our music — but the metal world can be a little intense to its own, y'know? So it was just really cool that they didn't care about that, and they just wanted to be friends with us because they liked what we did."

When the interviewer noted that "there is nothing more metal than being friends with a band like NICKELBACK," Mike said: "I remember the first time I met those guys, we were in a limo somewhere in Dallas, a little bit drunk and listening to Christina Aguilera. And I remember Vinnie just going crazy, saying how he thought it was the best shit ever. I was just sitting there going, 'What am I witnessing right now!?' They were really just fans of music — they didn't really let genres or personalities get in the way of what they liked. They just liked what they liked, and they appreciated what they appreciated. And like you say, that's so f***ing metal."

In a 2005 interview with Launch Radio Networks, NICKELBACK frontman Chad Kroeger recalled the first time he played the track for Vinnie Paul. "I called Vinnie, I wanted to get his blessing, and I play him the tune and I'm telling him that it's this very PANTERA-inspired riff," Chad said. "He was into it. He was digging it over the phone, and then he says, 'You know what, dude? You gotta write one for Dime.' And I said, 'Well, I wasn't quite sure how to lead into this, but that's what the song's about, and I kind of want to get your blessing on it.'And he's like, 'Brother, of course you have my blessing.'"

"Side Of A Bullet" was written shortly after Abbott was killed by a disturbed gunman during a December 8, 2004 DAMAGEPLAN concert in Columbus, Ohio.

A live video of NICKELBACK performing "Side Of A Bullet" — featuring a solo by Dimebag played over the speakers and a large screen with video footage of the guitarist going through the whole song — was later posted online.

NICKELBACK's third consecutive No. 1 album, "All The Right Reasons" topped the charts in the band's native Canada, the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia and New Zealand. To date, it has sold more than 19 million copies worldwide and has been certified diamond by the RIAA. The record produced seven singles, including five Top 20 hits: "Photograph", "Savin' Me", "Far Away", "Rockstar" and "If Everyone Cared".

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