rock-o-the-northWith a big arena date two months away and a few tickets still to sell it’s about this time that venue bosses, band management and record company PRs start to get a little twitchy.

They’ve done the magazine adverts, the billboard posters and even, in the case of the biggest-selling bands, the television campaign.

They’ve even booked one of the most talked about emerging acts of the modern generation to boost interest and appeal to a wider audience.

But still the sales haven’t picked up dramatically. And so there’s only one thing for it. The saturation press coverage.

Think Kerrang! covers, the Classic Rock double spreads, the broadsheet think pieces and the tabloid tales of rock industry excess. That’s guaranteed to shift a few thousand seats isn’t it? Well not if you’re Nickelback and you don’t talk to the press.

It’s no secret that the chart-topping Canadian superstars are starting to sweat as they head into May’s headline show at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena. This is no Metallica. It’s not even a Slipknot. There are still plenty of gaps to be filled and plenty of sleepless nights ahead for those keen to see this summer’s rock extravaganza fulfil its true potential.

Adding label mates Black Stone Cherry to the bill is, it has to be said, a masterstroke. If you’re looking for one overseas band guaranteed to get the party started with a southern rock groove it’s the band which opened for Def Leppard and Whitesnake 12 months ago – and won rave reviews along the way.

Those guys are future arena monsters in their own right and there will be a good contingent of fans at the Nickelback gig there to see one band and one band alone – and it’s not the one who like to sing about their privileged position at every opportunity.

But announcing a killer support act can only do so much. Speaking to journalists is still the sure fire way to get your message across to the maximum number of people and even the biggest rock stars accept as much. Some even do the job well.

It’s a pity that Chad and his Kroe can’t stomach the thought of chatting to the odd scribe for fear of having their infinite words of wisdom maliciously misrepresented. I’m assuming this is what’s happened in the past and, instead of taking issue with the individual concerned they’ve thrown a blanket ban over the written media.

It must be a dream for their record label PR people and if there’s one guaranteed tactic for turning the public against you it’s by pissing off the men and women of the press. Once their pens are sharpened all hell can break loose.

There was a period last summer, around the time that Rockstar was absolutely everywhere, that Nickelback clearly thought they’d cracked it. They were the biggest hard rock band on the planet so why bother lowering themselves to the level of the common hack?

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time but it won’t seem like such a masterstroke when they’re playing to banks of empty seats in venues where a large proportion of the paying public will have read a lot of shit about the image-conscious monster that has become Nickelback.

A very shrewd lead singer with a very good British rock band recently admitted he’d always lived by the old adage that you should be nice to people on the way up because one day you’ll meet them on the way down. Maybe Nikelback aren’t heading for a fall just yet but once they do it’s a foregone conclusion that their self-imposed media blackout will come back to haunt them. Think on Chad.