Canadian rockers NICKELBACK made headlines last October when President Donald Trump tweeted a meme targeting former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter, set to the band's 2005 hit "Photograph". The president's since-removed video echoed Trump's unsubstantiated allegations that Biden improperly used his influence in office to benefit his son Hunter. The video opened with a clip of Biden saying that he's never spoken to his son about overseas business dealings. The video then cut to the "Photograph" clip of NICKELBACK lead singer Chad Kroeger holding a framed photograph of Biden and his son on an apparent golf outing with a "Ukraine gas exec" named Devon Archer, who reportedly served with Hunter on the Ukrainian gas company board.
"LOOK AT THIS PHOTOGRAPH!" Trump captioned the tweet, referencing the song's opening line.
Though the text of Trump's tweet remains, Twitter ultimately removed the video after Warner Music made a copyright complaint.
During a November 2019 interview at Oxford Union, Oxford Universitys famous debating society, NICKELBACK bassist Mike Kroeger and guitarist Ryan Peake were asked what their initial reaction was to Trump's tweet.
Mike replied: "Our reaction was to not react. Anybody who was paying attention would see that we didn't react. We didn't — we left it and didn't engage it."
Ryan elaborated on his bandmate's comments, saying: "The quagmire of politics is exhausting these days. I don't know if that's for anybody else, but it's… Well, we're in England — it's everywhere. And we're Canadian.
"I didn't wanna be dragged into any kind of partisan politics, any kind of agenda," he continued. "I don't think that's our place.
"It's a weird thing, especially when you take politics and Twitter. I mean, what a messy, messy thing. It's just full of poison. I'm sorry — Twitter is a tough place to hang out, whether you're reading Twitter or whether you're reading comments on something… It's just a mess. And I was surprised when it came up. But I didn't wanna give it any oxygen."
Asked by a student if the members of NICKELBACK were involved in the decision to make a copyright complaint to Twitter, Mike said: "We are not interested in being used as a tool in politics… What happened was we initially realized that we were being used in a way that we didn't approve. And then we realized it was a copyright violation at the same time. And we asked, 'Is that okay?' And, frankly, it is a violation of trademark and copyright, so that was pursued by our label and publisher."
He continued: "The funny thing was that after it was struck, we were perceived in the commentary of social media as traitors and censoring the president of the United States, trampling his First Amendment right of free speech, and we shouldn't do that and cheered by the left as heroes, because we shut down this president that they don't like, that is a villain for their story.
"Funny enough, after those copyright strikes were done, somebody posted, from the left, a picture of Donald Trump and Rudy Giuliani and his shady Ukrainian friends with the same meme," he added. "But following that, that was also copyright struck. And then after that, we were cheered by the right as being, hooray, standing up for the president, and vilified by the left as being Trump apologists, sympathizers, whatever, and we were the bastards who shut down the left all of a sudden.
"The thing about what I'm coming around to is we never said anything. The entire commentary was made by everyone else for us. So we didn't really, apparently, have to say anything, because we got to be on four sides of the same problem."
Ryan chimed in: "We shut down everybody evenly. How about that? This is a blanket shutdown."
One day after Trump tweeted the "Photograph" video, streams of the song surged nearly 40% from two days earlier. Digital sales of the song also soared during the same period.
"Photograph" spent one week at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart in 2005.