Category: episodes

Hedley: Let’s Talk About Fan Culture (And How Problematic It Is)

The #MeToo movement has been rocked as well as the Canadian music scene as Vancouver pop-punk band Hedley has been hit with numerous allegations of sexual assault and inappropriate behaviour with underage fans. The allegations started on twitter and range from the band being vulgar and handsy with girls after the show, to one that outlines them bringing back a 16 year old fan back to their hotel room for sexual acts. Police are even investigating a potential rape that occurred in London, Ontario in 2005. The alleged victim was 14. (It should be noted here that at that time, the legal age of consent in Canada was still 14, not being changed to 16 until 2008. So the girl may have been of legal age, but that doesn’t necessarily mean the band’s actions were consensual).

Although I was heavily entrenched in the Vancouver music scene for years – either through interviewing bands or reviewing shows – I was not among Hedley’s fanbase, although I have seen them perform three times. My only experience with Jacob was a five-second hello and handshake backstage at the Saddle Dome in 2005. Up until two days ago, I had no prior knowledge of any of the allegations against Jacob Hoggard, Tommy Mac and the members of Hedley. I am not here to add anything substantive to those reports. Rather, what I’ve noticed is a strange divide.

Obviously, this kind of behaviour is nothing new. The 60s and 70s were legendary for their rock and roll behaviour and the general hedonistic lifestyles that often came with being a touring musician of that era. That’s not to say that every single artist engaged in these types of questionable morals, but it certainly was more common than not. But this is not your grandparents and these aren’t your parents concerts. If the recent events in Florida are anything to go by, it’s the young people – men and women – have had enough of being ignored. This being the digital age though, those accused are often able to share their shade of events easier and more quickly. In their statement on facebook that Hedley posted after the accusations surfaced, the band alluded to engaging “n a lifestyle that incorporated certain rock and roll clichés”, while remaining adamant there was a line they would never cross. The band can say one things, but fans can tell a different tale.

It all started on twitter, where many of the accusers first spoke up, there were recurring stories of Jacob having an unpleasant and in some cases creepy nature. Yet others are vociferously defending their chosen Gods and engaging in various levels of disbelief, name-calling and victim blaming. While a good number of commenters are polite in their defence, others are hurling curse words and various attacks at anyone who tries to say anything bad about the band and calls out those who haven’t given “true facts”. One facebook user felt that accusing men of heinous acts is now the cool thing to do, although I’m sure survivors and victims of assault would strongly disagree.

Many of Hedley’s defenders are supporters of the #MeToo movement and at least one is a survivor of assault. So what, if anything, makes these specific allegations different? Every case is different – whether it’s the multitude of bizarre sex antics levelled against movie producer Harvey Weinstein, or a single allegation as is the case with actor George Takei and journalist Steve Paikin. Certainly, any sort of emotional connection will play a role, but at what point does fandom become irrelevant? Musicians and rock stars are, to certain a degree, often held in higher stature than actors or sports figures, and often have a seeming greater amount of infallibility than there famous counterparts. But is there something in the Vancouver music scene and pop punk culture in particular that make it a breeding ground for inappropriate behaviour? I spoke with a few avid concert goers and pop punk aficionados to try gain some insight.

Lydia Bader says although she was never assaulted by any members of the band, she had a rude encounter with them years ago, which included lead-singer Jacob Hoggard cursing at her when she asked for a photo. She was about 14 at the time. While her experience wasn’t as bad as some of the allegations, Bader points out the type of behaviour that is pervasive in the Vancouver music scene; on her Tumblr page she goes into great detail about how she was assaulted by Sheldon Stenning, lead singer of another Vancouver-based pop-punk band – Sharks! On! Fire! (Although these allegations have also yet to be proven, as of Sunday night, it is now an active and ongoing police investigation). She stresses however, that it’s not limited to just this one type of music. Fans of all genres are vulnerable to the exposure of certain “rock and roll cliches” – the type alluded to in Hedley’s facebook statement.

For fan Lizzie, although she found Jacob to be “quite attractive”, she says pop punk appeals to her because of the “sense of community” it brings. When pressed if similar stories of behaviour were ever to be alleged against her all-time favourite band, Lizzie flatly states that she would be “extremely heartbroken” and may have “to let them go”, as much as she would try to see all points-of-view. She is also quick to note that the whole Hedley situation has been a “lesson” for her as they were one of her favourite bands.

Many fans are still fervent supporters however. On twitter, many users lament that it’s no longer innocent until proven guilty, or point to the lack of real, tangible evidence, as reasons for why they are sticking by their favourite musicians. Many of them try to place the burden of proof with the alleged victims, which can be a difficult thing to ask, as something that happened years in the past and often leaves no physical evidence can be a tough sell. But that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. To point to a real-world example where this happened, one can look at the trial of U.S Gymnastics coach Larry Nassar, sentenced to over 60 years in prison after upwards of 30 victims testified. Now it may never come to that with Hedley, but in many cases, the court of public opinion ends up in the right corner.

With supporter Charlie however, the relationship with Hedley goes beyond simple fandom. She worked for them as a merch girl in their early days. On why she is still supporting them even after they have been dropped by the Junos, their management, radio stations and their openers, she believes that it’s important to acknowledge that there are two sides to every story, especially since some of the allegations took place over a decade ago. But she doesn’t necessarily think that the accusers are all lying. “ These are their stories and this is how they felt at the time and still do” she laments. “To them, this is how the meetings took place.” It’s not my place to say they’re untrue” but she is to point out that if the band is proven innocent, “I definitely think an apology” would be in order.

Given that all the accusers are female, and that Hedley and to a larger extent pop-punk’s fanbase is mainly comprised of teenage girls and young adult women, does that aspect of fan culture play into certain “rock and roll cliches”?

For Bader, this is absolutely true, especially in Vancouver. “Fan culture in Vancouver is a mess. There’s no boundaries or respect from either side”. For her, there can be a lack of maturity on the part of the fans. “The problem is that the mainly female fan base is so young that they put themselves in horrible situations not truly knowing the [potential] outcome.” For Lizzie, she says that while the fanbase can be problematic in terms of drama, she hasn’t experienced anything too negative, but knows that a lot of other fans have. For her, “concerts should be definitely treated as a safe zone. Everyone goes to concerts to run away from their own issues and to be happy.” Bader however, is skeptical that “safe spaces” will make much of a difference stating “If people want to lie about their age, they will. If musicians want to believe these girls are old enough despite clearly being 16, they will.”

As a survivor of assault, Charlie sees things a little differently. “I personally wouldn’t explain my story as a hashtag on the internet. What happened to me is private and if I want my story spoken I tell those I trust. If that’s someone’s choice to tell their story then that’s their prerogative.” A key objective of the #MeToo movement is giving victims a voice and a supportive community. The challenge for anyone accused is that they now have to contend with the court of public opinion more than ever before. Charlie feels the fan base will ultimately make their own decision although “parents with younger children will have something to say about it.” She then harkens back to a situation with British band Lostprophets when their lead singer, Ian Watkins, was charged – and ultimately convicted – of numerous sexual offences against children and possession of child pornography. “You don’t hear from them anymore” says Charlie. (In June 2014, a year and a half after the allegations first came to light, and roughly months after Watkins pleaded guilty, the remaining members created No Devotion with new lead singer Geoff Rickly.)

Fans on the both sides of the debate though do seem to be in agreement about one thing: Hedley’s apology could have been better. Bader called it “disappointing” and claimed it did nothing to save their image, while Charlie was a bit more nuanced in her criticism “It’s as sincere as their PR wanted it to be. I think they’re stepping around the issue and could have been more personal about it. It got turned around onto them instead of about the victims. But that’s just a “ rock and roll clichè” right?”

While all three agreed to be interviewed for this piece, only Lydia Bader consented to have her name published in full.

Update: Since this story was first published, the police investigation against Sheldon Stenning has been closed without charges being filed. Vancouver police are not pursuing the matter any further.

Best of Endeavours – Henry Rollins, Marc Maron, Neil Degrasse Tyson

Episode 056 – Kate Micucci, Natalie Brown, TJ Lockwood

 

Kate Micucci is a comedy superstar. She first got exposure as Stephanie Gooch in the series Scrubs, before later appearing as Shelley in the sitcom Raising Hope. In addition to her live action roles, she is also an accomplished voice actress, voicing such characters as Sadie in the fandom favourite Steven Universe, Velma Dinkley in the latest Scooby Doo direct-to-DVD films, and Webby Vanderquack in the new version of DuckTales, co-starring David Tenant. She is also one-half of Garfunkel and Oates, a musical comedy duo she created with Riki Lindhome. She recently completed her first lead role in a movie, Unleashed, co-starring Sean Astin, Justin Chatwin and Steve Howey.

Natalie Brown is an actress who has made a career out of the sci-fi/horror genre appearing in such shows as XX, The Strain, Dark Matter, iZombie, Being Human, Bitten, and The Listener, as well as Republic of Doyle. She has appeared in the films Dawn of the Dead, and How To Lose A Guy in Ten Days, and her new movie Blood Honey, co-starring Shenae Grimes-Beech, Gil Bellows and Don McKellar, hits theatres September 1st.

TJ Lockwood is an author and writer from Vancouver. Her debut novel Violent Skies comes out September 9th.

 

Episode 055 – Catherine Bainbridge, Rob Howatson

Catherine Bainbridge is a documentary filmmaker for Rezolution Pictures and found previous success with the film Reel Injun. She has also been a producer on several shows including Mohawk Girls, Down the Mighty River, and The Oka Legacy. Her newest film is Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World, which looks at the history of Native Americans’ contribution to modern music including Link Wray, Mildred Bailey, Jimi Hendrix, Peter LaFarge, Stevie Salas and Randy Castillo.

Rob Howatson is a Vancouver historian who recently uncovered a story about a Vancouver neighbourhood’s connection to country music superstar Loretta Lynn. And where does a chicken coop come into everything. Ron explains all this and how it lead to the Coal Miner’s Daughter’s first single I’m A Honky Tonk Girl. This story is featured as part of the Museum of Vancouver’s Unbelievable exhibit.

MUSIC

Going Home – Ulali,.
Rumble – Link Wray & His Wray Men
I’m A Honky Tonk Girl – Loretta Lynn

Episode 054 – Malachy McCourt, Matthew White, Mickey Lemle

It’s the M show!!!

Malachy McCourt is an actor, writer, a former green Party candidate for Governor of New York. He is also the younger brother of Pulitzer Prize Winning memorist Frank McCourt (Angela’s Ashes, Tis). He has appeared on many daytime soap operas including Ryan’s Hope, Search For Tomorrow, All My Children,  and One Life To Live, as well as in the critically acclaimed series Oz, and films such as Gods and Generals. He has also written A Couple of Blaguards, which was co-authored and performed with his brother Frank. He was also a long time public radio host and gained fame as an NYC bar owner. He has written two memoirs – A Monk Swimming, and Singing Him My Song. His “final” book is Death Need Not be Fatal.

Matthew White is a music administrator and the artistic and executive director of Early Music Vancouver. He talks about Vancouver’s long-standing tradition of Classical music and their affiliation with the Vancouver Bach Festival.

Mickey Lemle is a documentary filmmaker whose latest project is The Last Dalai Lama? which focuses on the 80th birthday celebration of number 14 as well as whether or not he thinks he will reincarnate.

MUSIC

Wild Mountain Thyme – The McPeake Family

Episode 053 – The Pride Spectacular

Happy Pride 2017! This special features new interviews and previously recorded chats that celebrate diversity and the Queer community!

From Vancouver’s Queer Community, Alex talks about what pride means to them, being many letters of the acronym, the politics of pride (has it been overtaken by corporate culture), and representation in the media.

From the vault:

Dan Savage is sex and relationship advice columnist for The Stranger newspaper in Seattle. In addition, he has a podcast version of writings Savage Love and is the founder of Hump: The Amateur Porn Festival. Recorded in 2012

Jasika Nicole is an actress is known as the narrator of the hit fiction podcast Alice Isn’t Dead, from Welcome To Nightvale Productions. She has also appeared on the small screen on shows such as Fringe and Scandal. Recorded in 2016

Episode 052 – Kory Stamper & Ryan Suffern

Bit of a shorter show today as it one of two this week!

Kory Stamper is a lexicographer for Miriam-Webster and has been editing dictionaries since 1998. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times and slate.com. Her first book is Word By Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries. You can visit her at www.korystamper.com

Ryan Suffern is the head of documentaries for The Kennedy/Marshall Company and has worked closely with renowned producers Frank Marshall and Kathleen Kennedy as well as legendary director Steven Spielberg. In addition to short and feature-length documentaries, Suffern has also worked on the features Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Munich and War of the Worlds. His latest documentary is Finding Oscar, which chronicles the decades-long search for a survivor of the Guatemalan genocide.

Episode 051 – Sam Kean, Midnight Shine, Stephanie Bennett

It’s a hot one out today

Sam Kean is a Washington, DC-based science writer whose latest book is Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of The Air Around Us. He has also contributed to the New York Times and Slate

Midnight Shine is a band from the Attawapiskat First Nation. They are currently recording their third album.

Stephanie Bennett stars at Christy Cook on the new CBC Soccer drama 21 Thunder.

MUSIC

From Midnight Shine
Sister Love

Episode 050 – Aaron Schroeder & Kelly McCormack, Emily Rowed, Gregory Driecer

 

Aaron Schroeder and Kelly McCormack are two of the stars on the CBC fake documentary series The Neddeaus of Duqesne Island, a 70’s-style faux-doc about an odd family living on a deserted Canadian Island.

Emily Rowed is a singer-songwriter, whose new EP is Electric Heart.

Gregory Driecer is the director of curatorial and engagement at the Museum of Vancouver. He talks about the new exhibit, Unbelievable, which deals with the stories we tell and how the inspire and affect us.

MUSIC
From Emily Rowed’s Electric Heart
Burn
Swords
Arrows

Episode 049 – Come From Away, Rio By Night, Shawn McDonald

 

David Hein and Irene Sankoff are the creators of the Tony-winning musical Come From Away. It tells the true story of the town of Gander, Newfoundland which, after 9/11, took in thousands of stranded air travelers, essentially doubling the population of their town. Every actor plays several characters. The show won best director – musical, while the creators themselves were nominated for best musical.

Rio By Night is Britt MacLeod’s labour of love. After toying with a solo career and undergoing many line-up changes, Rio By Night’s new album Yet The World will be released on July 20th. Britt talks about the artistic process.

Shawn McDonald is a long time Vancouver actor who will be in Theatre Under the Stars production of The Drowsy Chaperone, playing the Man in the Chair, who, essentially functions as the tale’s narrator. It runs from July 12 through til the end of August.

MUSIC
From Rio By Night’s Yet The World
A Line To Draw
Half The Time

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