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Hedley has no problem touring Canada during coldest winter months

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TORONTO - It's days before Hedley are set to launch a cross-Canadian tour during one of the coldest winters in recent memory, and Jacob Hoggard is sipping meticulously brewed java on the sunny deck of his Vancouver home.

He's counting down the days until the tour starts with evident excitement, while also trying to soak up the solitude — and relative warmth.

"It's our Hoth World Tour," the 29-year-old said with a laugh in a recent telephone interview, referencing the frigid, ice-encrusted planet from "The Empire Strikes Back."

"We're no stranger to braving the Canadian winter, and as true Canadian boys in the true north, I think it's something we've grown accustomed to. (But) it's not always easy. It can be really harsh or really dry and if you're a singer it can be the least ideal element to be faced with.

"We do it because we know that in these cold dark Canadian months, there's not a whole lot of other bands touring. In the summertime you have your pick. You can see whoever you want on whichever day you want. But we know growing up being music fans that in the wintertime there's really not a lot to choose from.

"So for us, we like to be that light in a very cold, dark place."

The tour launches Friday in Prince George, B.C., and will wind through nine provinces total (sorry P.E.I.) before wrapping in Abbotsford, B.C., on April 12.

Early in the tour, the pop hitmakers will be supported by a team of openers including Danny Fernandes, JRDN and Alyssa Reid while East Coast rapper Classified will join in for some major arena shows later in the tour. ("We want fans to experience a bunch of different kinds of music," Hoggard says of the eclectic lineups.)

The tour is in support of "Wild Life," released in November before almost immediately passing the platinum mark — Hedley's fifth straight release to do so.

And consistency is indeed a priority for Hoggard. The former "Canadian Idol" contestant has issued new material with near-obsessive punctuality: five albums delivered two years apart, always in autumn (with the exception of the band's self-titled debut "Hedley," which preceded the fall season by a mere two weeks).

"I think I really do suffer from an acute case of ADD because I can't sit still and do the same thing for too long," Hoggard said.

"A lot of bands go: 'Well, I'm done. I'll take a three-month vacation.' I take a three-day vacation and I feel ants crawling all over my body."

Which is why Hoggard has already ear-marked the spring and summer for songwriting, even though he's not about to switch up the Swiss precision of his album delivery schedule.

But that's later. Right now, he's fretting about the tour, which he says will push the band far outside its comfort zone.

They're heading down a "new frontier," he says, noting that risk-taking has always been on the "forefront" of the band's gameplan.

They're bringing new instruments on tour and experimenting with a series of video vignettes that will be threaded through their set, but primarily he says he's nervous about the band's setlist.

Five albums in, and it's become an "exciting challenge" to figure out a lineup of songs that will keep all the band's fans happy.

"We've all been to those shows where we go see a band we love and they don't play any of the songs that we want to hear — all the old songs, normally all the songs we fell in love with them for," he said. "They'll just play all the new stuff. And the new stuff's great, but there's those moments that you look for in a concert where you get to bond with a band over a moment that you shared maybe five-10 years ago.

"For us it's really important not to neglect those elements in the show. It's been a really serious challenge to not just pick the right songs, but make sure it flows and give everybody what they're looking for."


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