In HateSong, we ask our favorite musicians, writers, comedians, actors, and so forth to expound on the one song they hate most in the world.
The hater: Sludge metal act Kylesa formed in Savannah, Georgia, in 2001 and has undergone several mutations since, but founding members and vocalists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants remain. The group’s unique take on psych-doom has earned it legions of fervent fans both inside and outside of the metal community.
Kylesa’s latest record, Ultraviolet, is out now, and the band is currently painting North America black while touring with Pinkish Black and Sierra.
The hated: Nickelback, “Rockstar” (2005)
The A.V. Club: Why is “Rockstar” the song you picked as your least favorite?
Laura Pleasants: There are many popular songs that I loathe and there are many that I’ve never heard of that I might hate even more, but luckily, I protect my ears to some degree. I can safely say I’ve never heard a Justin Bieber song.
The first time I heard this Nickelback song I was working in an art store. I was in the wood shop upstairs working with one other guy and he had the radio on this pretty bad local rock station. The song came on and I was like, “What is this? Oh, my God! Turn this off please, right now. I’m dying inside.” And he said, “It’s Nickelback!” I hated everything about it from the first note I heard. It’s the mix of country and rock with ridiculous lyrics. It’s the antithesis of my being.
AVC: Have you seen the video?
LP: Oh, God. I cried a little when I saw Billy Gibbons in the video.
AVC: The video didn’t come out until 2007, which isn’t actually that long ago. That video seems so dated, though. Everyone in it is incredibly “2007.” The guy from American Choppers is in it, for instance.
LP: It’s just a terrible song. I get that it’s kind of a mockery, I guess, but Nickelback is just so terrible. They’re terrible.
AVC: There’s a difference between artful mockery and hokey, unsubtle mockery, and this is the latter.
LP: There is nothing subtle about the song. It is the clichés it sings about, and I get it, but it’s still terrible. It makes me not want to ever be associated with rock stardom at all. It’s like, “This is why I’m glad I’m not on the local shit rock station.”
AVC: Being in the kind of band you’re in is not the same thing as being in Nickelback.
LP: It will never be. I never set out to do that and that’s never been a goal, to be a rock star or be swimming in money or riding in limousines. I’m not a very materialistic person so that’s not what I strive for. It just puts a big sour taste in my mouth all together.
And the music is just terrible. I like old country, like from the ’50s and ’60s, and whatever Nickelback is doing mixing it with rock music makes it just as bad as rap metal, but different.
AVC: And, in a way, this is getting played on the same stations. This song could be played on the country station or it could be played on the bro-rock station.
LP: Oh, I hate bro-rock. Bro-rock is the worst.
AVC: It would get played on the same hard rock station that would play the Ozzy Osbourne record. But Nickelback isn’t a hard rock band.
LP: They’re not. I don’t know what they are.
When I was trying to pick a song, I was looking at other bands, but I had to do research about their songs. And then I was like, “If I have to research those, I must not hate them that much.” So then I decided to stick with Nickelback, because I definitely know that song and I definitely hate it.
AVC: Why don’t you like Nickelback, besides all of the obvious reasons?
LP: It’s just shitty, whitewashed, watered down, bullshit, talentless music and they’re superstar famous. They appeal to the lowest common denominator of the masses.
AVC: That’s a good way to put it.
LP: It’s just bad. There’s nothing arty or creative about it at all. It’s formulaic, dumbed-down rock.
AVC: What could you compare Nickelback to in another genre? Is it like, “Well, American cheese still outsells every other cheese. Thomas Kinkade is the most popular artist.”
LP: It’s just like bad cable television. Do you have to appeal to the masses for your show to stay on the air? If you’ve ever had to sit through regular cable television now, it’s fucking terrible. And you’re like, “Wow, this is really bad acting and really bad writing and all of this is very bad.”
AVC: If Nickelback asked Kylesa to open for them, and they said they’d give you $10,000 a night, would you do it?
LP: For $10,000 a night? Yes. Then I would make fun of their crowd or something.
AVC: You’d get good stories out of it.
LP: We opened up for a band once that was pretty terrible. I’m not going to name names because they were nice enough people.
Actually, they weren’t that nice, and they were a terrible band. But we did a week of shows with them just as an experiment in… I want to say 2007. It was terrible, but the people-watching was some of the best people-watching I’d ever experienced. That part was a lot of fun on the social and cultural level. It was really funny. And, you know, I’m not saying that I’m better than these people, but looking at a different walk of life is just different.
I think Nickelback fans would just be so confused by us that their heads might explode. It’d be too much for them to digest.
AVC: Maybe you could convert a couple.
LP: You know, maybe. I doubt it. But if you’re a young person, you can get away with liking shitty music, because you’re young and then maybe you’ll figure it out down the road. And that certainly happens with a lot of kids so I think that would be the only way.
But, you know, for 10 or 20 grand a night, I think I would open for them. I don’t know. Even if I had to buy all of their records so I could destroy them. I’m not hating on them as people. For all I know, they could be really nice, but their music definitely sucks.
AVC: And if they said the same thing about you, you’d have to understand.
LP: Fair enough. Everyone has a right to his or her own opinion. Art and music is subjective. Except the more watered down it is, the more likely it is to sell. It’s mediocrity that does the best, sadly.