Hedley, one of the biggest and brightest bands in Canada, returns with Storms, the group’s fourth album. It is a raw and riveting, emotionally-complex record, which finds the Vancouver pop act more open and more driven than ever before.
“There was a lot going on in our own lives, some pretty serious issues, but we found ourselves drawing strength from adversity and deciding to fight on,” says Jake Hoggard, the group’s singer and principal songwriter, who also produces two tracks on the album. “We’re such a close band of brothers that when someone falls, you pick them back up, and what this record’s about is perseverance – storms can be absolutely wretched, but, in the end, even the worst of it comes to pass.”
After forming in 2004, the band signed a deal with Universal Music Canada and released their self-titled debut album and entered the stratosphere of bonafide Canadian pop superstars.
From sold-out arena shows cross-country to the group’s 15 Juno nominations, Hedley’s intense musicianship and penetrating lyrics have made them something like a wildly popular cult act. Indeed, few bands share such a close relationship with their fans or can match the group’s illustrious achievements: three consecutive double-platinum certificates; 1,000,000 downloads; 10 straight videos reaching number one on the prestigious MuchMusic countdown. In 2010, Pollstar even named the act one of the 100 top touring artists in the world. Hoggard, however, says his group takes nothing for granted.
“I never want to assume that because someone’s our fan, that they’ll love whatever we’re doing. I understand that no one has any obligation to listen,” says Hoggard, who calls performing a hometown show during the closing ceremony at the 2010 Olympics one of highlights of a highlight-studded career. “When you start going, ‘Our fans will eat this shit up,’ you slow down and get less attentive, less hungry, and that’s the one thing I could never do. We don’t make music because we want to. We make music because we have to, and I think that’s what the listener will take away from our new album.”
The new album, Storms, produced by long-time collaborator Brian Howes, is at once fiercer and more melodic than any of the band’s previous work. Anthems and ballads, love songs and confessions, the record is real and raw and already striking a chord with their fans, as evidenced with the sales of “Invincible”. Released in August, the record’s touching first single has proven to be the group’s fastest-selling digital track of all-time.
After playing together for nearly a decade, the group – with Dave Rosin on guitar, Tommy Mac on bass and Chris Crippin playing drums – is tighter than ever on Storms, and more groove-based, something that Hoggard credits to the group's deepening personal relationships.
“We’re brothers now and we feel far more unstoppable because we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been really angry with each other and unsure of our future together, but all of those elements make up the complexity of a family,” says Hoggard, adding that lyrically, he paid far more attention to detail on this record, taking up to 30 different takes in the studio and spending 15-hour marathon recording sessions to perfect each song. “You can say, ‘through thick and thin,’ but it’s hard to practice that when you’re in the muck. On Storms, we found our energy by getting through the tough times – that’s what bonds you – and it pushed our song writing and our playing, to a place where I don’t think it’s ever reached before.”
As usual with a new disc from Hedley, the record is jam-packed with both get-your-lighter-out slow songs and hard-driving rockers, and songs like “Heaven’s Gonna Wait”, “One Life” and “We Are Unbreakable” are sure to appease the disparate tastes of both radio station programmers and long-time fans. Storms, which fans have been clamouring for since last year's remarkable The Show Must Go, also features the unique and dynamic collaboration between Hoggard and Babyface, the Grammy-winning R&B superstar. The two collaborated on “Stormy”, which became the near-title track of the record.
“We worked hard to develop the melodies and the performance and Babyface really made me feel comfortable with developing the soul aspects of the song,” says Hoggard, who spent three weeks writing in Los Angeles. “In the end, he was such a great and inspiring guy to work with. When it was over, he actually thanked me for letting him help out on one of my very favourite new songs.”
In today’s hit-driven market, Storms is unique because it was intentionally built as a full-length concept album. From the first notes of “One Life” to the epic 8-minute album closer produced by Hoggard “I Won’t Let You Go (Darling)”, Storms is a cohesive work of melodic inspiration, drawn from the real lives of its creators.
According to Hoggard, it’s a record the band spent its entire career working towards.
“We’re more sure of ourselves on this record than ever before. It was a very natural and gradual progression, but we’re confident now of who we are and where we’re headed,” says Hoggard, adding that this momentum will certainly spill over into the group’s now-legendary live show. “Everything has led up to now, and I feel like the group’s finally found our stride.”
Storms is the sound of a confident band that’s peaking on all fronts - eleven tight pop tracks mastered to utmost perfection combined with the celebration of enduring some of life’s toughest challenges. The themes on the record – survival and dedication, love and loyalty – are certain to resonate with the ever-growing legion of Hedley fans.
“This is a record that I think a lot of people are going to be able to live their life by – that things go up and down, but we have the strength within us to carry on,” Hoggard says. “I live and breathe every note on this album and want everyone to know that within us, we all have the constitution to endure.”