Fellow Canuck band Hedley’s lead singer, Jacob Hoggard, was accused of sexual assault by a woman in February, and after a brief meeting in a Moose Jaw hotel room, the members of Neon Dreams chose to leave the tour.
Despite what it may have meant for them in terms of exposure, it wasn’t worth it, said band members Frank Kadillac, Matt Gats and Adrian Morris to Global News in Toronto.
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“In that situation, we felt that the victim’s voices were the most important thing,” said Morris. “We wanted to show our support by pulling out of the tour and no longer supporting the band across Canada.”
“We feel strong emotions about it too, it was hard,” agreed Kadillac. “When it all happened, it hit us very hard. At the end of the day, you go with your gut feeling. It was a tough decision, but also easy. [Laughs]”
Interestingly, the band thinks that with the advent and growing prominence of social media, music stars aren’t as “untouchable” as they once were. They’re accessible, and it’s tempting for both artists and fans to break that invisible barrier. Even 15 years ago, because musicians weren’t required to log onto Twitter or Facebook to personally engage with fans, they seemed almost godlike, feeding the frenzy some fans had upon seeing a band perform live, which in turn could cause die-hard fans to push even further.
“There’s a visibility now, in life, whether you’re a musician or not,” said Gats. “It changes everything — what goes on in the world and how people act.”
When it comes to interacting with fans in person and online, the Neon Dreams guys know when to draw a line.
“We understand that fans use music to escape, sometimes to get away from problems in their personal lives,” said Kadillac. “Their lives may not be that great, so you have to sympathize with that. You don’t have to answer every single [fan] message, but we try to be there to help when we can.”
“With great power comes great responsibility,” agreed Morris with a laugh, quoting Ben Parker of the Spider-Man comics.
After they made the call to leave the Hedley tour, the band left Moose Jaw and drove 4,000 kilometres straight home to Halifax, the place they consider home.
Kadillac, Gats and Morris have been playing together for 10 years since they were teenagers. Together, they have a discernible, tangible camaraderie, one that can only be formed after years of making music as a group. They consider each other family.
“These guys will always push me to be my best self,” said Gats. “We do that for each other, and that helps us progress. It’s gotten us to this point. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them.”
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Indeed, Neon Dreams makes dynamic music; impossible to define in terms of genre, their songs bounce from EDM to pop to rock to rap to funk, defying classification.
“We grew up playing in every type of band,” said Kadillac. “Metal, pop-rock, hip-hop, EDM, jazz, Latin … we draw from everything we enjoy. For us, we make the music that we feel, and that can come from many sources of inspiration.”
“One fan approached us and said — I’ll never forget it — ‘You’re not just a band, you’re not just in one genre. You’re an experience,'” he continued.
The guys first made an impact on Canadian radio in 2016 with their breakout single Marching Bands, featuring Toronto legend Kardinal Offishall. Certified gold, the smash hit brought Neon Dreams victory in the Best New Group or Solo Artist (Dance/Urban/Rhythmic) category at the 2017 Canadian Radio Music Awards, beating out prominent nominees Tory Lanez and PartyNextDoor. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau even included their music on his playlist.
They charted in the Top 30 twice more in 2017 with their followup singles Find A Way and Confessions. Their seven-song 2016 EP To You has enjoyed astonishing success, and to date, it has received over 10 million streams on Spotify and sold over 10,000 units in Canada.
“We sat down and wrote things in a book 10 years ago, and now we’re starting to be able to check things off in there,” laughed Gats.
Neon Dreams plans to have another album out within the next year and said their unreleased music is different (surprise, surprise) than anything else they’ve ever put out. They say it’s heavier and more rock-inspired.
With this group of guys, we’re just going to have to wait and listen.
Neon Dreams is performing on May 12 at the Rivoli in Toronto as part of Music Nova Scotia’s Canadian Music Week Tiki Lounge. The scheduled set time is midnight.
— With files from The Canadian PressFollow @CJancelewicz
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