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No longer idolizing Hedley

First Canadian Idol finalist now platinum artist, Juno nominee, hell raiser and businessman



Who: Hedley

When: Wednesday, April 19

Where: Whistler Concert Series Mainstage

Where: Skier’s Plaza

Tickets: Free

After reading about his fist fight one hour before the Juno awards, about him donning a thong while recording his first album and chowing down a pet fish a fan gave him (or so he jokes on his website), you would think I was calling one of the Osbournes.

But instead I was dialing up Canadian Jacob Hoggard of the band Hedley. I braced myself for a loose cannon whose every second word was likely to be an expletive.

But instead of the Tasmanian devil whose press releases tout his ability to sing about urine, tampons and breaking stuff, a business-savvy, mild mannered 21-year-old picked up the phone.

The lip-ringed ham kept the jokes rolling, always subtitling laugh insert here as I tried to figure out if he was a long lost love child of the Osbournes. He had just posted a blog earlier that afternoon about burning tires and pushing them down a hill.

"We decided to go for coffee instead," he clarified with what I am sure was a grin on the other end of the line.

He has been branded "charmingly obnoxious" by some in the media, as much for his charisma and boldness as his music.

"Our personalities and how we come across is a key factor in who we are (as a band)," Hoggard said. "Besides the music, they get to see who we are."

Maybe that is why it wasn’t until the end of the interview that we finally got around to discussing his music.

While you wonder what would possess a man to wear a thong at a recording studio and what ridiculous stunts he would have pulled working as a construction worker pre-Hedley, the high school drop out (expelled after lighting his desk on fire in Grade 12) has always strayed from the norm.

"People can attest to me being a fucking retard since I was little: Grade 1 to 12," he said, laughing.

"All of my report cards said ‘he talks too much in class’ and ‘fools around too much.’"

Now the self proclaimed "obnoxious attention seeker" vents his energy on stage.

With two Juno nominations (Best Album, New Group), three top 20 radio singles, tours with Simple Plan, MXPX and Faber and signing with Universal Canada, the pent up creativity is now exploding across Canada.

You might recognize Hoggard from his closing performance at the Juno Awards or from the heavily rotated 3-2-1 grocery store mayhem video on MuchMusic, but most television viewers remember the punk rocker as one of the top three finalists in the 2004 Canadian Idol competition – an association the now platinum-recording artist hopes to put behind him.

"Just in Canada," Hoggard said of aspirations to escape the Idol stigma.

"Just (the stigma) from the show and stuff. It’s an uphill battle to prove ourselves and make a name for ourselves…. It’s almost at a point where (the quality of our music) is undeniable. Girls bring their boyfriends and they think that it’s going to be gay, but at the end of the night they are having an awesome time. You know they’ll say, ‘I still don’t like your face, but it’s still a good show.’ It’s been really hard. There are so many different perspectives from the television show. We are probably four of the hardest working guys. I’ve learned not to give a fuck about press and media. It just distorts you and fucks with your head."

Heads down, the foursome of Hoggard, bassist Tommy Mac, guitarist Dave Rosin and drummer Chris Crippin never stop moving. The band returned last month from a Simple Plan tour of 31 dates with only four days off – and 138 bottles of Jagermeister and 53 cases of beer consumed.

While the self-professed party boys love their liquor, music is their moonshine. Determined not to be the one-album wonders, Hoggard built a mobile recording studio, setting to work on the band’s second album after the release of its self-titled first last fall.

"It’s really encouraging us to write a lot," Hoggard said of the rolling studio. "We’ve got 20 new songs already. I want 100 songs for the next record…. We are busting our asses. We work hard, stay fit, proactive with labels and management, and that is important for us – along with drinking – it’s all business."

From full-throttle punk to maniac-growling spiritual ballads, Hedley is all business at the Telus World Ski and Snowboard Festival Wednesday, April 19 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Whistler Concert Series mainstage in the Skier’s Plaza. The Wednesday free outdoor concert also includes performances from The Left and Rally Car.