A turbulent twister of torment found Hedley sailing the seas of introspection, but they rode it out and came ashore with their latest album, Storms.
Frontman Jacob Hoggard and guitarist Dave Rosin won't go into detail about the situation that led to the serious soul-searching on the band's fourth release, but allude to a band member's serious health issue that forced them to take a new look at their lives.
"I could say the band was faced with mortality in a very serious way," Hoggard says over coffee at The Forks.
"It was someone extremely close to us and made us reconsider how we did things... it was really serious, someone got really sick.
"To a certain degree we're protective of our privacy, and there's a certain line -- once you begin to cross it you can kind of wind up a tabloid."
Hoggard and Rosin admit the health scare forced them to re-examine their lives both personally and professionally, which, in turn, led to the band's most personal album with lyrics like, "Took a long hard look at my life... I was living a lie," and an abundance of piano-based ballads.
"It's honest and I think our fans are honest and we're honest with them," Rosin says. "It's almost a cathartic experience sharing and getting it out in the open. It makes it easier to move on and work on what's after that."
The album deals with heavy issues like self-doubt, self-confidence and mortality -- a stretch from the feel-good pop-punk the band initially made its name on -- but it was a hit with fans: Storms has gone gold and Hedley is up for four Juno Awards for fan choice, single (Invincible), pop album and group of the year.
Hedley will perform on the April 1 broadcast which will mark the end of a Canadian tour in support of the album. The guys stop at the MTS Centre tonight for a show with Classified, Anjulie and My Name is Kay.
The emotional material and additional electronic textures on a few songs are part of the band's growth that is bound to come naturally after playing together for so long, say Rosin, 30, and Hoggard 27.
"We're growing as musicians and our fans are growing as people and listeners, so we're trying to build and grow together," Rosin says.
"As songwriters it's important for us to diversify our approach. Sometimes somebody can do it a certain way and do it for the next 3,000 albums and it's good, but we want to avoid stagnating. It feels like we're in an infantile stage in our songwriting, so we're trying as many things as we can and diversifying our approach," adds Hoggard.
The buildup to Storms has been brewing since Hoggard's self-imposed ouster from Canadian Idol in 2004. He was voted off the show after urging his fans not to vote for him so he could avoid being tied down to the contract winners are forced to sign.
After leaving the contest (eventually won by 'Where is he now?' trivia question Kalan Porter), Hoggard formed a new version of his pop-punk band Hedley and inked a deal with Universal. The band's 2005 self-titled debut went on to sell 200,000 copies and since then the quartet -- Hoggard Rosin, bassist Tommy Mac and drummer Chris Crippin -- has gone from a theatre act to arena headliners weathering various storms along the way and learning life lessons.
"Life can be unpredictable and fierce, but the sun always comes out afterwards," Hoggard says.