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“Nickelback: Hate to Love” Director Says the Rock Band 'Paved the Way for All of Us to Get Abused Online' (Exclusive)

Leigh Brooks' documentary explores the rise of the Canadian rockers and the backlash they faced

<p>Michael Loccisano/Getty</p> Daniel Adair, Mike Kroeger, Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake of Nickelback in Toronto in September 2023

Michael Loccisano/Getty

Daniel Adair, Mike Kroeger, Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake of Nickelback in Toronto in September 2023

Canadian rock group Nickelback is known for smash hits like “How You Remind Me,” “Rockstar” and “Photograph.”

Its members are also known for the intense backlash they’ve received from comedians and Internet trolls, who’ve made them the butt of jokes through the years.

Director Leigh Brooks’s new documentary, Nickelback: Hate to Love, which debuted in theaters this week, explores the band’s rise from humble beginnings in Alberta, Canada, to Grammy-nominated superstars who had to grapple with that vitriol.

Related: Nickelback's Chad Kroeger and Ryan Peake on the Band's 'Bumpy Ride' — and Why They Wouldn't Change a Thing

After becoming wildly famous in the mid-2000s, the group — which now consists of Chad Kroeger, Mike Kroeger, Ryan Peake and Daniel Adair, who joined as a drummer in 2005 after Ryan Vikedal departed — became a target, and dissing them became something of a sport.

<p>Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty</p> Ryan Peake, Chad Kroeger, Daniel Adair, Mike Kroeger of Nickelback perform in June 2017

Nathan Congleton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty

Ryan Peake, Chad Kroeger, Daniel Adair, Mike Kroeger of Nickelback perform in June 2017

In the documentary, Brooks shows memes that labeled the rockers “Nickelhack” and clips of comics making fun of the band. In one, Brian Posehn said during an appearance on Comedy Central, “No one talks about the studies which show that bad music makes people violent. Like, Nickelback makes me wanna kill Nickelback.”

“These guys paved the way for us all to get abused online,” Brooks told PEOPLE last September at the film’s Toronto International Film Festival world premiere.

“It's a rite of passage for any influencer, they have to go through that passage now. Whereas this was the beginning of that journey, and the internet grew up with these guys as well,” continued Brooks.

Mike Kroeger, the band’s bassist and brother of lead singer Chad, said brushing off the hurtful comments is easier when they’re not directed at an individual.

Related: Nickelback Thanks Lizzo for Defending Their Music Against Critics and Suggests Duet Performance

“Having the band savaged by critics or just a–holes saying negative things about us is one thing, but it's when it's a personal attack on my brother, I don't like that,” said Mike.

“And that's different. You can say somebody's music, they don't like it, or the band is whatever, overplayed or too ubiquitous or whatever you want to call it. But when you're going after somebody personally, I think that's not OK,” he continued.

<p>KMazur/WireImage</p> Daniel Adair, Ryan Peake, Chad Kroeger and Mike Kroeger of Nickelback

KMazur/WireImage

Daniel Adair, Ryan Peake, Chad Kroeger and Mike Kroeger of Nickelback

Mike ultimately thinks the hate resulted from what's known as tall poppy syndrome. “When the tall poppy gets too tall, somebody's got to cut it down to size and everybody's willing to jump in, especially when they can be anonymous cowards,” he said.

At first, Chad was averse to opening up about that part of the band’s history in the movie, but bandmate Ryan Peake convinced him otherwise.

“We get to take the narrative,” explained Peake. “We get to actually tell our version — it's like you turn the cheek for as much as you can, and then at some point it's like, here's our take on it.”

For his part, Chad said he hopes the movie will end any of the discussions regarding the topic moving forward, telling PEOPLE he’s “over it.”

Related: Nickelback’s Chad Kroeger Will Not Talk About Backlash Against the Band ‘From This Day Forward’

Asked if they’re hoping to win anyone over with the movie, Mike said no. “I think winning people over is something that you don't do, just like changing people's minds. It doesn't work that way. You don't change people's minds, they change their own minds. But what we can do is we can tell the untold part of the story. That's what we're doing.”

“We play for our fans, we play our music for our people,” he added. “They come to our rock shows, they consume our music, and they enjoy it and they like us, and that's who we work for.”

Nickelback: Hate to Love is now in theaters.

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Read the original article on People.