SURREY — From Cedar Hills to Cloverdale, Jacob Hoggard’s musical story is spread across the Surrey map.
Hedley’s lead singer grew up near the corner of 91st Avenue and 126th Street, and went to school at nearby L.A. Matheson Secondary.
A couple of decades later, on Saturday, July 1, the band he fronts will play for thousands of screaming, flag-waving fans at Bill Reid Millennium Amphitheatre, as headliners of Surrey’s massive Canada Day event.
“Ah, home sweet home,” Hoggard told the Now-Leader in a phone interview on Tuesday.
“It’s been awhile.”
• READ MORE: Surrey’s Canada Day party just got bigger, with headliner Hedley, Magic! and others announced, from May 2016
Hoggard lives in Vancouver now, but apparently still visits Surrey.
“I still get by once in a while, because I’ve still got old friends who live in the neighbourhood, so that brings me back, and you can never get too far,” he explained.
Back in 2005, when Hoggard was still an apprentice carpenter living in Abbotsford and fresh from a stint on the Canadian Idol TV show, a retooled Hedley lineup played its debut gig at the Ozone, a King George Highway nightclub since demolished and replaced by a Save-On grocery store.
“Oh wow, what a flashback,” said Hoggard when reminded of the show. “I remember playing there, and it was the night the band met my grandparents for dinner at mom’s house, as I recall, so that’s cool.
“It’s gone, but we’re still here,” he added.
• READ MORE: That time Hedley played Surrey’s Ozone club and Jacob Hoggard talked about growing up nearby, from June 23, 2016
At the time, the band’s sound was definitely snotty pop-punk – light years from its more refined, R&B-ish songs of recent vintage, including a new “Love Again” track.
“It’s one of those songs we think is going to be benchmark for us moving forward,” Hoggard raved.
“It’s a brand new track and we’re super proud of it, and are excited to share it with everybody.”
This week, the band got busy shooting a video for the song in Toronto. Cast wanted for the two-night shoot included one “adult robot dancer” under 4’6” and one “child robot dancer,” also under 4’6”.
“It’s going to be a virtual-reality music video, so it’s kind of the first of its kind,” Hoggard explained. “We’re really stoked about that, the prospect of making it something really cool.”
In March, longtime drummer Chris Crippin left the band and was replaced by Jay Benison, Hedley’s drum tech.
Like Hoggard, Crippin was also raised in Surrey, and later moved to the woods of Quebec some years ago, Hoggard said.
“It got to a point where he wanted to do his own thing and he had our blessing, and we had a great 11, 12 years together and we wish him well,” said the singer, who continues on with guitarist Dave Rosin and bass player Tommy Mac.
“That was an opportunity for us to kind of move forward and kind of venture into a new phase of our lives as well, and nothing really changes in the world of Hedley other than the fact that we’re continuing to evolve our sound, and this single is exactly in line with the way we see our future. We’re lucky to be doing what we do.”
The Canada Day concert in Surrey will be a fly-in, fly-out situation for the headlining band, which is set to play a WE Day event in Ottawa the following afternoon.
“We’re doing a private jet right after (the Surrey date) just to get to Ottawa in time for the next day, to make it on time, with the shows crammed so close together, but it’ll be a fun day, you know,” Hoggard explained. “Having grown up in the neighbourhood and just obviously being home-grown Canadian kids on Canada Day, we’re really looking forward to it.”
In concert, Hoggard’s between-song banter is known to explode with F-bombs, but can he keep it clean for the all-ages crowd in Surrey?
“No f—-ing problem,” he deadpanned.
“I think there’s many, many sides of who we are and what we do, so it’s pretty easy to transfer, translate our show and our character on stage, into what makes sense for our audience,” Hoggard elaborated. “And you know, we’re a band that’s really grown up with our audience, and we’re very close to them – on tour, recording, all that.”