Nova Scotia

Halifax's Neon Dreams pulls out of tour amid Hedley's sexual misconduct allegations

Halifax-based band Neon Dreams says it will not continue to tour with Canadian rockers Hedley after allegations of sexual misconduct against the band surfaced.

Junos dropped Hedley from televised celebration after claims of impropriety involving young fans

The band Neon Dreams poses on the red carpet at the Juno awards show in this April 2, 2017 file photo. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

Halifax-based band Neon Dreams says it is dropping out of its tour with Canadian rockers Hedley after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced against that band.

The announcement came Friday morning, hours after Hedley's management team also said it was dropping the band from its roster. Earlier this week, the Junos dropped Hedley from its televised celebration after recent claims of impropriety involving young fans surfaced on social media.

In a statement posted on its Facebook page, Neon Dreams said it could "no longer in good conscience continue on the Cageless tour" opening for Hedley.

"We are truly sorry to disappoint anybody that has purchased a ticket to see us perform and we hope to make it up to you in the future," Neon Dreams said in a statement.

Halifax's Scotiabank Centre said, as of now, the Hedley concert scheduled for next Friday will go ahead.

'It got harder and felt more wrong'

Speaking to the CBC's Mainstreet on Friday, Neon Dreams drummer Adrian Morris said Hedley was a band he grew up "idolizing at one point" and the tour had a great vibe until this week when the allegations surfaced.

"It was hard to get onstage the next show. But it got harder and felt more wrong each time," Morris said.

"With the #MeToo movement and everything else going on, it's important that young women and women everywhere have the ability to have their voice heard and stand up in situations like these. We just wanted to influence that as well and make anybody involved feel supported by that."

Drummer for Neon Dreams, Adrian Morris, said each show with Hedley after the allegations got harder to perform. (Facebook)

Morris said the band was on a contract for the tour and isn't sure what the ramifications of breaking that contract will be, but it was likely Neon Dreams would take a financial loss.

But he said while this was one of the hardest decisions the band has ever had to make, money wasn't really a factor.

"There was a more important issue," he said.

Statement from Hedley

Hedley responded to what it called the "unsubstantiated" allegations in a statement Wednesday, saying that the life of a touring band is "unconventional."

"While we are all now either married or have entered into committed, long-term relationships, there was a time, in the past, when we engaged in a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock 'n' roll clichés. However, there was always a line that we would never cross."

None of the allegations against the band have been proven.

'Turning of the tide'

Jacqueline Warwick, a professor of musicology and gender and women's studies at Dalhousie University, said the "clichés" to which the band refers have been around a long time.

"There has been, in a lot of ways — in all areas of music, not just rock culture — an idea that free access to sex is just one of the perks of the job and that it is sort of almost encouraged in some areas," she said.

"It's a very exciting moment to see all the conversations and kind of turning of the tide in so many industries at the moment around questions of sexual exploitation and abuse, so it's no surprise to see this happening in rock culture."

Hedley performs during the Much Music Video Awards in Toronto on Sunday, June 19, 2016. (Chris Young/Canadian Press)

Warwick said it can be tough for fans to try and reconcile their love of an artist with allegations of sexual misconduct. 

"I think the harder path, but the path, really, we should try to follow, is to reconcile both those things," she said.

"Hold both those ideas in our heads at once: that I can love this music, it can mean something to me, and I need to think about the fact that maybe it has these other unethical dimensions that I'm not comfortable with." 

Hedley — fronted by Jacob Hoggard and including Dave Rosin, Tommy Mac and Jay Benison — are up for three Junos this year, including fan choice, group of the year and pop album of the year.

More organizations drop Hedley

Several other organizations are also distancing themselves from the band, including the philanthropic organization WE, which has had a long relationship with the band. It said it has "no plans to work with Hedley in the future."

Corus Radio, which owns 39 stations across the country, announced Thursday it was suspending all airplay on all Hedley songs in light of the allegations. 

Air Miles says it has cancelled a contest in which its collectors could have won a VIP experience at a Hedley concert. Air Miles says "winners will be offered a substitute prize." 

Advice for men in the #MeToo era

Laura Simpson is founder and CEO of Side Door, an online booking and ticketing platform that gives people access to events happening in their neighborhood, and has worked in the music industry in Nova Scotia for years.

She said she's glad the conversations around treatment of women in the music industry are growing and she has some advice. 

"My advice isn't actually to women, because women have been doing the work for so long to mitigate risk, manage assaults, deal with the problems," she said. 

"My advice is actually to men and one is to actually find the patience to continue to listen and find the time to actually research and read and pay attention to what's going on. That's what's really going to help."

With files from Mainstreet