Hedley faces accusations of sexual misconduct
It’s been a trying week for Vancouver music fans.
First, there was the passing of Craig Doyle, aka Mac Pontiac. A respected presence in the city’s roots music scene, Doyle passed away on Sunday Feb. 11 following “a minor heart procedure” according to the Georgia Straight, and after being given a clean bill of health. Doyle was also a co-owner of the Bang-On chain of T-shirt shops.
Then, on Feb. 13, the Cobalt announced on social media that it would be closing for renovations.
Owners maintain that it will be temporary. Personally speaking, it would be a helluva loss to lose the Cobalt. The Main Street venue is my favourite place to see a band; it has great sightlines, a quality beer selection (something sadly lacking in the live music venues in the city) and is right next door to Tinder hotspot the Boxcar. (Okay, I don’t really know if it’s a Tinder hotspot, but it seems like it must be.) Plus, shows are usually done by 11 a.m., especially on Fridays and Saturday. I love that.
There was a third thing… oh yeah. Hedley.
This past week, allegations of sexual harassment involving underage girls were lobbed at the Vancouver band.
Hedley faces allegations of sexual misconduct
On Feb 13, exclaim.com broke the social-media story. “The hashtag #outHedley2k18 has surfaced on Twitter, with multiple people accusing members of the band of acting inappropriately with them. Some stories include allegations of the group preying on girls as young as 14,” noted the story. A Twitter user by the name @_cndnpsycho “has been sharing anonymous accounts of sexual misconduct allegations lodged against the band.”
A look at @_cndnpsycho’s account shows that Hedley-related tweets began appearing on Feb. 12: “Hey @Hedleyonline. Y’all were my favourite ten years ago. It’s a shame you’ve gone to shit and Jake is a creep.” It was followed by a retweet of a Twitter user named gloomyhxlsey: “a lot of shit happened at the show & it genuinely puts so much fear in me for the younger fans who hold jake/hedley on a pedestal and would do anything for them/let the guys do anything to them”. It’s unclear which show she was referring to. The band is in the midst of its (perhaps ironically named) Cageless Tour; they had played Red Deer on Feb. 10 and Calgary on Feb. 12.
A chorus of allegations immediately began appearing in tweets and Twitter threads. You can see these on @_cndnpsycho’s timeline. On Feb. 12, the band’s official account (@Hedleyonline, 668k followers) blocked the user.
‘… a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll cliches…’
The band responded on Feb. 14 in a statement through its record company, Universal. In the nearly 300-word statement, the band declared that “All of us in Hedley respect and applaud the #MeToo movement and the open and honest discussion it has inspired.”
The statement goes on to say that “if we are to have a meaningful, open and honest discussion, we all have to accept and respect that there are at least two sides to every story. The recent allegations against us posted on social media are simply unsubstantiated and have not been validated. We would hope that people will bear-in-mind the context in which these unsupported accusations have been made before passing judgment on us as individuals or as a band.
“We realize the life of a touring band is an unconventional one. While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll cliches. However, there was always a line that we would never cross…”
Junos drop Hedley from performing
The band and Universal issued the statement a few minutes before a Juno announcement. The Juno announcement said that the band has been dropped from performing at the upcoming awards show, which is scheduled for Rogers Arena on March 25. Radio stations have also been dropping the band from its playlists.
Hedley has not cancelled any of the remaining dates on its tour, which includes shows until March 23. According to this Exclaim.ca story, press has been “uninvited” from attending the upcoming concert in Brandon.
As of this writing, Hedley is still up for three Junos, including Best Pop Album and a Fan Choice Award. The band has long been a favourite of the awards show. As a Globe and Mail story noted, “The band has performed at the annual ceremony a half-dozen times, and frontman Jacob Hoggard hosted the 2015 edition. Since 2006, Hedley has received a staggering 34 Juno nominations and two wins.” Hedley also performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
Other members are Tommy Mac, Dave Rosin and Jay Benison. In April 2017, Hedley announced on social media that drummer Chris Crippen was leaving the band, citing the reason that “our artistic paths have diverged.” In September of last year, in response to a tweet suggesting he return to the group, he tweeted “Never for any reason”.
Hedley formed in Abbotsford in 2003 with an entirely different lineup, except for Hoggard. Hoggard went on to come in in the top three in a season of Canadian Idol. The original lineup disbanded and Hoggard reformed the act, according to the Hedley Wiki bio.
Cageless, released last year, is the band’s seventh studio album.
Their philanthropic work includes WE Charity, formerly knows as Free the Children.