The Honest Heart Collective
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The Honest Heart Collective

Thunder Bay, Canada | Established. Jan 01, 2013 | SELF | AFM

Thunder Bay, Canada | SELF | AFM
Established on Jan, 2013
Band Rock Alternative




"Indie88 Premiere: The Honest Heart Collective Share 'I've Got You'"

Thunder Bay rock group The Honest Heart Collective have been not-so-quietly making their mark on Ontario’s music scene over the last few years. With over 150 shows and countless tours under their belts, this Northern Ontario-based band are about to make even bigger waves.

The spirited rockers are readying their highly-anticipated sophomore album expected this spring, following up their debut Liar’s Club in 2015. In anticipation, the band shared their first taste of what’s to come, the anthemic “I’ve Got You”. Their new material was produced out of their self-built studio Lionheart Studios in Thunder Bay, Toronto’s Fox Sounds, and Union Sound Company with producer/engineers, Derek Hoffman, and Jay Ruston.

“I’ve Got You speaks to the unspoken feeling of growing up and losing those in your life that you care about most,” Ryan MacDonald told Indie88.

“This feeling continues to present itself as you get older, and it never gets any easier. Yet no matter how broken or beaten down you may feel, there will always be someone who can understand that loss, and say, ‘I’ve Got You.’" - Indie 88

"The Honest Heart Collective – I’ve Got You [Review]"

Some of the best music in the world is created through that unique bond of family. The Kinks, Arcade Fire, and Oasis are just some of the many iconic bands that have been anchored by that unbeatable connection. Canadian rock group The Honest Heart Collective, led by brothers Ryan and Nic MacDonald, follow in this tradition, and the result is a sound that is playful, yet distinctly unified.

‘I’ve Got You’ is a track pulsing with a wildly youthful heart. The Honest Heart Collective will take you back to bittersweet summer evenings, lost love, and great friends. In fact, ‘I’ve Got You’ is essentially a beautiful homage to friendship, and all the complications that come with it. Against the backdrop of powerful, energetic rock instrumentation, the poignant lyricism is breath-taking: ‘You might be emotionally spent / But I’ve got you. I’ve always had you.’

The Honest Heart Collective take obvious influence from indie and punk-rock groups like The Gaslight Anthem, as well as from the showmanship and classic song-writing of Bruce Springsteen. Overall however, The Honest Heart Collective, alongside producer Derek Hoffman, have created a sound on ‘I’ve Got You’ that is distinctly individual, and full of heart. With a new LP arriving in the spring, this group is definitely one to keep an ear out for. - XuneMag

"Video Premiere : "I've Got You" By The Honest Heart Collective"

From The Artist : “We wanted to show that feelings of grief and loss don’t go away when you walk out of the door. Those anxious thoughts can make doing simple, everyday tasks seem daunting and insurmountable. But I’ve realized that there’s always a way to get through that darkness, because someone will always be there to pull you through it.” – Ryan MacDonald

Music Video directed by Travis Didluck

Anchored by brothers Ryan and Nic MacDonald, The Honest Heart Collective was born out of a moment at a Bruce Springsteen concert and a rotating cast of musicians made permanent. Buoyed by the backdrop of their Northern Ontario roots, the band’s debut LP tells a story of longing, deceit, and new beginnings. Liar’s Club encapsulates The Honest Heart Collective’s old soul take of heart-on-sleeves storytelling through music. Armed with the self-built Lionheart Studios, a blue-collar mentality, and 150+ shows later, The Honest Heart Collective has become four best friends raring to put out new music and get back on the road. The Thunder Bay natives are wrapping up a new collection of songs with Producer/Engineer Derek Hoffman at Fox Sounds. - Live In Limbo

"Four Incredible Takes on the Rock Genre"

This Canadian act has perfected the sound of American rock. Their sound transcends borders and will connect with a diverse population of listeners. We have a bias towards bands that sound like The Gaslight Anthem, and this is a perfect example. It is difficult to make a head on rock song that plays to heartstrings and leaves you feeling nostalgic, but this act is close to perfecting the craft. Their big wall of sound is something fun and intriguing. Be on the look out for a new LP in the spring. - Ear To The Ground

"The Honest Heart Collective - Liar's Club (Album Stream)"

Thunder Bay, ON-based four-piece the Honest Heart Collective are set to release their debut LP Liar's Club next week, but Exclaim! is streaming the album in its entirety right now.

Described as having a folk-infused sound and a punk mentality, the rock'n'rollers have had music on the mind from a young age. As evident on Liar's Club, they've come a long way from "jamming on hockey sticks and toy microphones."

The new album was recorded at Lionheart Studios, with mixing and mastering courtesy of Gregory Dunn of Moving Mountains. The songs were inspired by the time singer Ryan MacDonald recently spent in Ottawa.

"This record is about learning to be honest with yourself when you're still not sure what to believe," he said in a statement. "You could say these songs have done some travelling."

Channelling themes of missing loved ones, deceit, betrayal and, eventually, new beginnings, it's a highly charged collection of guitar-driven rock, backed by the honest, sentimental songwriting style of a folk record.

Following a hometown release show on April 25, the group will be taking the new material out on the road throughout May. You can see the full list of upcoming shows below, and scroll past those to give Liar's Club an early listen.

Tour dates:

04/25 Thunder Bay, ON – Black Pirates Club
04/29 Sudbury, ON – Verve
05/05 Toronto, ON – Smiling Buddha (CMW)
05/12 Montreal, QC – Barfly
05/14 Ottawa, ON – House of Targ
05/15 Oshawa, ON – the Hub
05/16 Toronto, ON – the Rivoli
05/17 Guelph, ON – DSTRCT - Exclaim!

"Exclusive Premiere: The Honest Heart Collective, 'Haymaker'"

Self-described as “folk-infused rock with a punk mentality,” it’s no surprise we here at Diffuser quickly fell in love with the Honest Heart Collective and their debut album, Liar’s Club. Hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, the Honest Heart Collective are incomparable performers, undoubtedly sinking their entire beings into every second of the music they create. That energy is perfectly captured in their new music video for “Haymaker,” and today (July 27), we are ecstatic to team up with the rockers for its premiere — check it out above.

“‘Haymaker’ was an especially difficult song to write,” frontman Ryan MacDonald admits. “The song revolves around me saying something awful to someone that I love … lyrically, it’s a really heavy tune.”
And now visually, that heaviness is on full-display thanks to the direction of the Trenches Media. “We’re really excited to release our new video on Diffuser,” MacDonald says. “There was a ton of work put in by everyone involved so we hope you like it!”

Liar’s Club is packed with 10 tracks of authentically intense rock from this group of independent musicians; you can grab more details on the disc at the Honest Heart Collective’s Bandcamp. The band recently wrapped up their summer tour across Canada, so make sure to stay up-to-date with everything in their world — and grab a free download of “Haymaker” — at their official website. - Diffuser

"PREMIERE: Stream The Honest Heart Collective's Johnny Cash Tribute EP"

Like any good music historian, Canadian rockers The Honest Heart Collective are fans of Johnny Cash. With today being what would be the Man in Black's birthday, you can stream the band's Cash EP. Featuring four fiery Cash songs, the band does their to bring their own interpretation, while remaining true to the original material. If you're a fan of Cash, you'll appreciate the band's take on the iconic singer.

“We have an immense respect for Cash and we wanted to do something special to honor his legacy," singer Ryan MacDonald says. "Hopefully, we would’ve made him proud.”

The Honest Heart Collective's Cash will be released on March 4. - PureVolume

"Video Premiere: The Honest Heart Collective ‘149’"

If you haven’t already climbed aboard the bandwagon, now’s the time to do so. The Honest Heart Collective have had an absolutely incredible year in 2015, and they are showing no signs of slowing down for 2016; with a hometown show coming up on the 19th with Poor Young Things, plus an upcoming EP of Johnny Cash covers (stay tuned for more details on that one), these boys have a lot on their plate.

The boys from Thunder Bay made the finals for the 102.1 The Edge Next Big Thing contest this past summer, and spent the day with The Trenches Media leading up to the performance (interviewed by none other than Yours Truly right here), before performing one of the most incredible sets I’ve ever seen for a super amped up crowd. We played a little game with the band where we found out who takes the most selfies, and who is the most likely to stink up the van (hint: it’s the same person).

Their latest music video ‘149’ compiles footage from that day, along with footage of their killer performance. Addicted Magazine is proud to premiere their video, so check it out below! - Addicted Magazine

"First Taste @ CMW: The Honest Heart Collective"

[Video] Luke met up with The Honest Heart Collective to chat about their #CMW2017 performance at Adelaide Hall! - 102.1 The Edge

"CMW 2017 Interview: The Honest Heart Collective"

Early in the week, we had a chance to chat with The Honest Heart Collective before their Canadian Music Week opening night showcase. Thanks to Kevin Heerema and Ryan MacDonald for taking time between sound checks and all that other stuff bands do before a show, to talk to us.

It was a busy time and we were briefly and happily interrupted by the arrival of 3/4 of Silver Love Club, hugs and hand shaking commenced. Next, sound check proved too loud for us to hear over so we headed outside into the sunshine to continue. Let me just say, I love this stuff.
The Honest Heart Collective - Adelaide Hall - Canadian Music Week 2017We started out with an icebreaker question, pulled straight from their bio which claims they guys have an affinity for Irish Whiskey. Let’s get started!

Q1: What’s your favourite whiskey?

KH: Highland Park
RM: Select Reserve Jameson

Q2: What artist/band would you most love to have on a dream bill with you?

RM: Silver Love Club
KH: Catfish and the Bottleman
RM: The Killers
KH: Against Me, this almost happened, and City and Colour.

There are definitely some great choices here. And the guys kinda gushed about Silver Love Club. We get it, we love them too. We’re definitely going to have to follow up on this, almost happened, story!

At this point, the conversation went totally off the rails and the guys went to …Ariana Grande and Taylor Swift, of course.

Q3: What’s your favourite thing about CMW?

RM: 4:00 am last call and Sneaky Dee’s after the show.

What’s not to love about late night Sneaky Dee’s nachos?

Q4: What are you listening to right now?

KH: The Maine‘s New Record
RM: The New Flatliners

We talked about finding new music and playing it on repeat. These albums fit in this category. You can check out Lovely Little Lonely by The Maines and Inviting Light by The Flatliners by following the links.The Honest Heart Collective - Adelaide Hall - Canadian Music Week 2017Q5: What Artist/band do you think we should be paying more attention to?

RM: Texas King
KH: I was just going to say
RM: Someone local, Emily Kohne . “She has a great voice, she’s a great songwriter, and she plays better guitar than me.”

Texas King has been on our radar for about a year and we have to agree that they’re one you should pay attention to. Emily Kohne is new to us so we looked her up, listened to some songs, and we love her voice and her guitar skills.

Q6: Have you had one of those breakthrough or aha moments?

RM: No
KH: Not Yet

The long answer, they’ve had a few things happen where it’s starting to feel like something. A show last year at Rivoli sprang to mind but they’re still waiting for that big “moment” to happen.

They talked about how hard and convoluted the process is for bands. “There’s so many bands out there trying to do this. You have to work really hard. I kinda feel like us being from Thunder Bay means we have to work harder. I mean we live 17 hours away from here. We haven’t had an aha moment but we’ve been grinding the whole time.”

Q7: What’s the first concert you remember going to?

RH: “Great Big Sea, they played at the Thunder Bay Community Auditorium. My dad took me and it was, it pretty much changed my life. It was sold out, there were 1,500 people singing along. But that wasn’t the one that changed my life. It was the second concert I ever went to. It was Colin James and watching that guy play guitar, made me wanna play guitar. I mean, I Just Came Back to Say Goodbye.”

Kevin prefaced his answer with a “My answer sucks.” We disagree, we think his answer is awesome!

KH: “My first actual, big production concert was N’Sync. It sucked! I got dragged at 7 years old. I was already into punk and rock music and everything but I had to. And then the next shows, I got my mom to take me to Sam Roberts. I was probably like 10. He played on my birthday. That really got me into, that looks really cool up there, that would be fun. And my very first show at a bar in the music scene, listening to hardcore punk was Protest The Hero and a couple of other metal bands and that got me thinking, this is where I want to be.”The Honest Heart Collective - Adelaide Hall - Canadian Music Week 2017Q8: What’s up next for the rest of 2017?

They’re working on a new record. There’s no working title, that they can tell us yet. They’re in the demo stage, with two more demos to cut and then they’re ready to move forward. The guys are hoping to get into the studio in the early summer and get a new release out by fall.

Additionally, they’ll be finishing up this tour, then it’s home to work on the album. There will be lots of time tracking in the studio. They’ve also got some smaller festival shows coming up. So watch for those!

Thanks to Kevin and Ryan for the chat. We’re anticipating that “aha moment” is coming soon! - The Reviews Are In

"So long, and thanks for all the fish: a farewell to Zaphod Beeblebrox"

Ryan MacDonald could feel the weight of the moment, the spirits of legends and lesser-lights alike who had graced the stage at Zaphod’s. That beer-soaked, sweat-stained stage at the legendary “nightclub at the edge of the universe.”

His band, the Thunder Bay-based Honest Heart Collective, would perform the final rock show at the venue on May 6, following the abrupt announcement from the club’s new owners, who had only recently assumed ownership from longtime impresario Eugene Haslam, that the ByWard Market club’s final curtain would come down on Sunday.

“You could feel the energy in the room,” MacDonald said. “It was incredible. We almost treated it like an Irish wake. We all wore black. We treated it like we had to put on the best show we’ve ever put on. The venue deserved it.”

MacDonald had a special connection to Zaphod Beeblebrox as a college student, following a move to Ottawa from Thunder Bay to study at Algonquin.

“I really didn’t have any sense of home, and it felt weird and strange, and when I finally went to Zaphod’s it just felt like home. For me, there’s something about the energy in that place.

“The atmosphere, the room, the music, the bar, that floor you’d stick to if you stayed still too long — it just seemed like this place for misfit kids to go and be themselves.”

Tom Stewart was one of those misfit kids who fit right in with Zaphod’s through each era, since Haslam first settled into the York Street location in March 1992.

The frontman for iconic local rockers Furnaceface cut his teeth there in all his musical incarnations, from his metal outfit Manpower to his Slo’ Tom and the Handsome Devils.

“One of the things I loved about it was I always felt for a club of that size — 250 capacity — you really got a show. It had the high stage, the real lights, the good sound,” said Stewart. “Comparing it to a million other clubs across North America that I’ve played at or seen bands at … it was more than just seeing a band. It always felt like a big show.”

Zaphod’s became known, largely through Haslam’s efforts and his ear firmly pressed to the ground, as a place to catch the acts on the cutting edge — “Heard before the herd,” became its slogan. (Haslam has declined interviews during a tumultuous time for the club.)

This was the first place bands like Junkhouse or Our Lady Peace would play long before they had hit singles, where Yo La Tengo and Meat Puppets and The Dandy Warhols and Ben Harper would pay their first, and in some cases only visit to the nation’s capital.

“Some of my favourite moments came from local acts that just blew my mind,” said Stewart. “I would see a singer-songwriter acoustic guy just about every night, then I saw Brock Zeman for the first time and it was on a completely different level. This was like the Ottawa Valley gold. And I had seen dozens of guys like him.

“The Sheepdogs were one of those bands, and I’ll never forget it. They always played these Monday nights, which were showcase nights, and the first time they played there was like three people in the crowd. And the second time there was about six people, so it was like, ‘All right, they’re making progress.’ And then the third time it was back to two people.

“But they were one of those bands where you could see they had their stuff together, they sounded so good, and you could just tell these guys were totally cool.”

Stewart, like many in the city’s community of musicians and music lovers, will lament the passing of Zaphod Beeblebrox.

“It’s too bad, but 26 years is a long time for anybody to do that job. And when it came time for Eugene to move on, it was very difficult for anybody else to pick that up,” said Stewart.

“People always say, ‘How can this place go down?’ But really, it’s such an exception that a rock bar has stayed open this long. So rather than despairing over it closing, it’s really time to celebrate the fact it lasted this long and that Ottawa audiences were able to support something like this, and were treated to some great music along the way. That’s the exception, not the rule.”


Sandy Sharkey, The Rolling Stones’ Streets of Love video shoot, Aug. 29, 2005:

“It was kind of Ottawa’s worst-kept secret that something was up at Zaphod’s.

“I had been working at the radio station (BOB-FM) on the morning show, and just on a lark I told my boss, ‘I’m going to try to get in.’ I got onto the patio next door and it was really fortuitous, because the next thing we knew barricades were going up and people were being denied access.

“Then I noticed all these beautiful people started showing up – these 20-something model-types being shepherded into the back alley, and so I just got up and went with them. Nobody seemed to know each other, so I figured nobody would know that I’m not supposed to be there. Then a woman with a clipboard started calling names for wardrobe, so I was just acting like I should be there, and at the end, she just said, ‘The rest of you, if you haven’t seen wardrobe, let’s go!’ Then I knew I was in.

“So I got dressed, got in the bar and the floor director grabs me a puts me right on the floor. And then all of a sudden The Stones come in and they walked by, like, four inches from me. They got up on stage and played Streets of Love for six or seven takes, and then there was a technical delay, so they just started to jam. That was honestly one of the musical highlights of my life.”

Mary Jelley, Warner Music Canada, Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill release, June 20, 1995:

“When I was looking for a venue to do a release party, with Eugene it didn’t matter who the artist was, he was willing to take a chance. Alanis had her earlier (dance-pop) albums, and we had our work cut out for us trying to work around the stigma. I would go around to radio stations and play Jagged without telling them who it was.

“Once she hit stage, there were definitely a few jaws dropped. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they were witnessing something special. You just felt it, you knew this was going to be a big moment.

“Alanis was so thrilled and excited to unleash what she had been working on for all those months. She also knew that she felt that this was it. It was very special. It’s one of those moments you get shivers, your hair stands on end. The fury on stage, the passion. It was intensely, amazingly good.” - Ottawa Citizen

"The Honest Heart Collective And Friends Deliver Zaphod's Last Live Show"

Thank you Zaphod Beeblebrox, for all the years of amazing live music. - Soundcheck Entertainment

"Help Fans Say So Long To Zaphod's"

The rumours had been swirling for some time, but on May 3rd the official announcement we were all dreading was finally made – Zaphod Beeblebrox was going to be closing its doors as of May 14th. Zaphod’s is a club any music lover in Ottawa in the last 26 years is well aware of as they have played host to thousands of bands, many in the infancy of their careers and some with international notoriety like The Rolling Stones (see the video here).

Checking the schedule after the announcement, it was quickly noticed that The Honest Heart Collective would be hosting the venue’s final concert. Having just seen them at Canadian Music Week, I knew how great they are, so combining that with an opportunity for a final hurrah for Zaphod’s and the evening of music was a no-brainer.

I arrived in time to catch Texas King of London, ON. The band wasted no time getting the party started with their stage savvy. Hamilton’s New Love maintained the party atmosphere, as members of Texas King and the Honest Heart Collective were seen enjoying the show from the crowd.

The Honest Heart Collective ended the night, toasting Zaphod’s before tearing into their set. The band was fantastic and left nothing on the table, as they poured their souls into their performance. Members of New Love and Texas King would eventually join them on Zaphod’s small stage for a raucous rendition of a couple of covers of The Killers. Thank you to the bands who made Zaphod’s final concert a memorable one!

You still have time to say your own adieu to Zaphod’s. They are open until May 14th, don’t delay!

Though unfortunately, we arrived too late to see them, Sounds of Stories opened the night. - The Revue

"CTV Morning Live: Morning Jam With The Honest Heart Collective Band"

[Video] - "Truthteller" Live at CTV Ottawa - CTV

"Getting Cozy With The Honest Heart Collective"

We are The Honest Heart Collective, from Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Thunder Bay is a small city of just over 100,000 people smack in the middle of Canada. We love our hometown and the support it’s given us right from day one. There’s something about our local music scene that helps produce great bands. We’ve been fortunate to learn from some phenomenal local and touring musicians, sound guys, bar owners, and music lovers to help develop our work ethic.

We spend most of our time in a 2003 Chevrolet Astro named Big Burg. That mean, burgundy machine takes us on the 17-hour drive to Toronto and all our tour dates. We take care of Big Burg as well as we can but we’re not perfect; I mean, we’re only human right? One time after a night of drinking there was a miscommunication as to who was going to move Big Burg in the morning. Everyone slept in late so when we went to go check on the van (and how big of a ticket we got), it was gone. Turns out poor Big Burg got towed for being parked in a rush hour traffic zone. $450 later we got Burg back from the impound and drove to the next show.

It’s not always pretty, but touring is always interesting with this band. Whether it’s Jay’s deathly flatulence, or Kevin’s insane laugh attacks, there’s never a lull in the fun. We have our own motto: “You can’t win ‘em all, and we never win any”, because everything that can go wrong always seems to do so, but we always say it with a smile. Even the time Jay typed in “Rd” instead of “St” in the GPS and we ended up at a Korean market instead of the venue (See proof here:, still smiling.

This past April we released our first full length LP, titled Liar’s Club, and we couldn’t be more proud of it. We built a studio on top of a bar and recorded it ourselves. Then, we sent the record to Greg Dunn (Moving Mountains, Prawn, Gates) to have it mixed and mastered. After working on it for months, it was pretty incredible to finally hear the finished product. Liar’s Club is an album about becoming a better person than who you were the day before. We made a point to make the record feel like a journey with highs and lows, good times and bad, through honest storytelling. We’ve been touring pretty hard these past few months and have no plans to stop. Hopefully we’ll see you in your city soon!

Much love,

– The Collective - A Music Blog, Yea?

"Next Big Thing Final 6: The Honest Heart Collective"

The Honest Heart Collective is a soulful, folk-rock 4-piece band with a punk mentality. They hail all the way from Thunder Bay, Ontario and on August 21st at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, they will compete to become the Edge Next Big Thing.

The band was created by brothers Ryan and Nick MacDonald who have come a long way since their days of being in separate bands. “My brother and I used to be in different hard-core bands and once we split, all we really did was play music together,” said lead singer Ryan MacDonald. “We weren’t sure of any of genre to play at the time, so that’s when I started to write folk music.”

They consider Gaslight Anthem and the Boss himself, Bruce Springsteen, as inspiration for their music. In fact, attending a Springsteen concert a few years ago is what got the brothers motivated to make their own music.

“After that Springsteen concert and seeing the different musicians up on stage, that’s what really inspired us to play the music we play now. Reassuring the idea that music, and writing impactful music, would inspire us and our fans as we grow as a band,” says MacDonald.

Since then, Ryan focused on folk songs that featured a punk-rock attitude. “Once we started playing, everything became more of an electric rock sound with a folk feeling to it.”

With almost 40 shows and multiple tours under their belt, they released their first full-length record Liars Club back in April which includes the hit single “Haymaker”. “You can tell by our hard-core, punk feel, that our music is telling a story. A journey of ups and downs. To me that’s where our inspiration comes from and we incorporated that into our album,” said MacDonald.

Lead singer Ryan MacDonald also said that he and his bandmates are extremely grateful to make it to the final six of the Next Big Thing. “The support we’ve had on this adventure has been unreal. Our fans, friends, and family have been encouraging and supportive that we take that on stage with us. For us, being so far away, we had to work so much harder to get to where are now. A lot of hard was put into this and we know we have a lot more work to do regardless of the outcome,”

A strong work ethic and motivation are significant reasons why the band believes they have what it takes to win the Next Big Thing.

For more information and to listen to the full-length record, go to: - 102.1 The Edge

"The Honest Heart Collective "We're Only Human" (video)"

Hailing from Thunder Bay, ON, folk-punk outfit the Honest Heart Collective dropped their debut LP Liar's Club earlier this year. Now, they're ready to unleash a brand new video for album track "We're Only Human," and Exclaim! has got your exclusive first look at it.

Since releasing the aforementioned record, the band hit the road for some live shows, including a stop at the Vans Warped Tour. It's here that the new clip was shot, and it's rammed with fun, fast-paced footage from the festival. Performance shots are mixed with a behind-the-scenes look at the scenic drive down, parading around the event grounds and meeting fans.

"Playing Vans Warped Tour was an incredible experience for us," said singer Ryan Macdonald in a statement. "We grew up listening and talking about all the great bands that they'd announce every year. There was this overwhelming sense of camaraderie that made us feel right at home."

If you want to catch the band live for yourself, take a look at their upcoming shows listed below. Scroll past the upcoming gigs and hit play to get the first glimpse at the video for "We're Only Human." - Exclaim!

"Walleye TV - Curling and Chinese Food"

[Video] Ryan and Nic from the Thunder Bay rock band The Honest Heart Collective try and find out Thunder Bay's mysterious connection between Curling and Chinese Food. - The Walleye

"Your New Favourite Band"

If you’re looking for a new band to get excited about, I’m going to direct your attention to The Honest Heart Collective. These crazy cats hail all the way from Thunder Bay, and any band that’s willing to make the 17 hour trek to Southern Ontario for their fans is alright by me. Oh, and their music just so happens to kill. Check it out here!

If you’ve ever wondered what a folk rock band with a dash of punk would sound like (and who hasn’t), wonder no more! These guys aren’t your average, run of the mill indie band that the market is beyond over-saturated with; they’ve created a sound that’s all their own, which is an excellent idea in today’s indie scene. They manage to make music that appeals to listeners across all genres, making them playfully accessible, yet charmingly unique.

Not only do The Honest Heart Collective make incredible music, but they’ve been working their asses off. Fresh off their tour of Southern Ontario with Aukland, these boys are used to being far from home. I also had the pleasure of interviewing these guys while they played the Toronto date of Warped Tour, and they’re as rad as they are talented. Their new album Liar’s Club is available now, so you should go listen and purchase right this very moment. Also be sure to check out their latest music video for their song “Haymaker“.

To top off all of their recent success, The Honest Heart Collective is currently among the top 6 bands in The Edge Next Big Thing contest after snagging the top spot with the popular votes! This is the same contest that yielded serious success to last year’s winners JJ and The Pillars, a band that you can now hear on mainstream radio pretty much on the daily. Not too shabby boys!

Not to mention, any band with a name that is a reference to the Fallout video game series is golden in my books. - Addicted Magazine

"The Honest Heart Collective "Truthteller" on Exclaim! TV"

The Honest Heart Collective fuse folksy instrumentation with punk spirit and sentiment to make tracks that are both earnest and edgy. The Thunder Bay, ON outfit supported their recently released debut LP, Liar's Club, with a series of shows and a video for the cut "We're Only Human," which was filmed on the Vans Warped Tour. To add to their collection of live performance videos, the Honest Heart Collective swung by to record a session with Exclaim! TV.

This clip features vocalist/guitarist Ryan MacDonald and bassist/vocalist Nic MacDonald performing "Truthteller" on behalf of the collective. Their rendition of the Liar's Club track is a sweet take on the original album cut, with a lulling acoustic melody and vocals that break into full-bodied crooning. Watch the performance in the player below. - Exclaim!

"102.1 The Edge Next Big Thing Top 20"

Feature - 102.1 The Edge NBT Top 20 on July 3, 2015 with Wade MacNeil & Adam Ricard - 102.1 The Edge

"CBC Thunder Bay: Superior Now"

Interview - CBC Thunder Bay: Superior Now on Aug 5, 2015 with Lisa Lacco - CBC

"The Honest Heart Collective aims to be the 'Next Big Thing'"

A Thunder Bay indie band might just come out with a big win in a southern Ontario band competition.

The Honest Heart Collective is the first band to make it to the finals for the "Next Big Thing" contest, thrown by Toronto radio station 102.1, known as The Edge. The Thunder Bay group had the most votes of any band in the competition.

Lead singer Ryan MacDonald said he and his bandmembers are extremely grateful to make it this far.

"It's actually kind of mind boggling," he said.

"Almost 600 bands applied for this thing and they narrowed it down to the top 20. We're fortunate just to be named in the top 20."

Once they got into the top 20, The Honest Heart Collective garnered the most votes of all the competing bands to push them into the final six. Those groups will play a battle of the bands event at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in downtown Toronto on August 21. The winner walks away with $25,000 in cash and other prizes.

MacDonald said he couldn't be more excited to play before their largest audience later this month.

"It's going to be pretty surreal to look out and see a sea of people in this big venue," he said.

"We try to have as much fun with it as possible ... it's just been a great time."

The band is proud to be from Thunder Bay, MacDonald said.

"Thunder Bay has always been really supportive of us."

The winner will be announced on Aug. 24. - CBC

"3 new Ontario songs you need to hear this week, Oct. 9 edition"

This Thanksgiving weekend, you're going to need some new tunes to keep you company as you make the trek to visit family — or alternatively, some music to drown out your family once you get sick of listening to them.

Either way, we have you covered. Check out these new tracks from Young Rival, Matt Monoogian and Honest Heart Collective as part of reporter Adam Carter's weekly spot from In the Key of C on CBC Radio 1.

You can listen to Adam and host Craig Norris talk these picks in the player above, and listen to the tracks right here. - CBC

"Liar's Club: The Honest Heart Collective"

Debut albums tend to be those which we measure an artist by throughout their entire career. Those songs are an introduction to the listener and hold a certain amount of nostalgia as time passes, sketching the blueprint for sound and artistic direction. For Thunder Bay band The Honest Heart Collective, Liar’s Club is that foundational album. Liar’s Club was penned as a result of singer Ryan MacDonald’s time spent in Ottawa. The thought-provoking songs hit home and have survived some travelling. The record reads like a diary—private entries put to music. Take “Truthteller,” which proves MacDonald’s vast vocal range. Themes of deceit, betrayal, missing loved ones, and new beginnings are all out on the table. Straight up. THHC are Canada’s answer to The Gaslight Anthem with their folk-infused, punk-tinged, guitar-driven rock. This is best shown on tunes like “Peace for the Weary Soul” and “Honest Hearts.” This record sets the bar high for local artist recordings.

-Angie Valente

4/5 - The Walleye Magazine

"The Honest Heart Collective turns over a new leaf"

It might seem ironic that a band with a name like The Honest Heart Collective would call their album "Liar's Club," but the full-length debut album from the up-and-coming Thunder Bay five-piece band is based on a true story.

As the band's guitarist and vocalist Ryan MacDonald explained over the phone the night before the band left for a quick tour of southern Ontario that brings them to Dstrct in Guelph tonight, the record's lyrical themes involve overcoming regrets and becoming a better person.

"I guess the general theme is about turning over that new leaf, acknowledging that you've made mistakes before and just trying your best to be better at it," said MacDonald, who also recorded the album at the group's self-built Lionheart Studios.

Specifically, the songs on the album stem from a time when MacDonald moved to Ottawa to study audio engineering at Algonquin College, where he soon found himself adrift.

"When I was living in Ottawa, I kind of disconnected with a lot of things, I disconnected with my girlfriend, and her and I at the time we sort of grew apart," he said. "I wasn't really talking to my brother as much as I should've, my mom, my family, and I was becoming somebody I didn't really like when I lived there. So that's kind of what the record's about."

Recorded between Boxing Day last year and mid-March of this year, "Liar's Club" is the followup to the group's 2013 debut EP, and is a showcase for the band's heart-on-sleeve hoodies-and-denim rock anthems that recall the man whose legendary live show inspired MacDonald and his bassist brother, Nic, to form the group a couple of years ago.

"Me and my brother went and saw (Bruce) Springsteen in Ottawa, and I just decided, 'That's what I want,'" said MacDonald. "I want to go up on stage and play music with every single friend I have, and so now we're in the process of trying to make that happen. And obviously it's a little far-fetched of an idea to think of, but you gotta have goals so we're aiming high."

Joining the brothers in the band are the pair's childhood pals Kevin Heerema (guitar) and Jay Savage (drums) along with recent addition Conner Harris (keyboards), a lineup that will soon be bolstered by the addition of a third guitarist. MacDonald said the band has no plans to move from Thunder Bay any time soon, even though that sometimes means epic drives, such as the 1,400 kilometres they drove to play a single show at the North by Northeast festival in Toronto last summer.

"That was kind of crazy, but we're a hard-working band and maybe we put a little more stress on ourselves being from so far away, but everybody's got to come from somewhere, right, and this is just where we choose to hang our hats for the time being," he said.

The band's hard work appears to be paying off, as the group's appearance in the finals of Toronto radio station 102.1 The Edge's Next Big Thing competition in August will attest. MacDonald said the band was originally envisioned as a rotating cast for he and his brother to tour with, though the core lineup came together surprisingly quickly.

"I thought in my head when I started it, it was going to be myself and my brother and that it would be stupid for me to think that I'd be able to find five or six dudes who'd be able to tour with me full time, you know, put their lives on hold to that extent. So the plan was to get as many of my friends who could play with me as possible, and whoever could go on tour at that time would just go," he said. "But it ended up, we got the lineup together and the only really rotating member when we first started was our lead guitar player."

Though their lineup may continue to evolve, MacDonald said the group will always be most comfortable on stage.

"If I could be on the road eight months a year, I would be. Playing live, that's where we're in our element. Recording the album was a little bit of a struggle because it's always hard to capture that live performance, that live energy and that live feel, but when we play live that's just how it is. We put on a pretty energetic show that we're proud of," he said.

"It's sort of just this organic combustion of energy and tension and being in a van for four hours, so when you get that four-hit count-in, it just explodes," he said. "Nothing else matters but that." - Waterloo Region Record

"Interview: Cash EP"

Interview: CILU 102.7 FM on March 21, 2016 - CILU 102.7 FM

"The Honest Heart Collective - Album Review (Page 8)"

The Honest Heart Collective, a group that has been said to "perform with the intensity and passion of a band trying to save rock and roll itself, one song at a time," released their debut full-length album Liar's Club via Free Mind Operations. They keep true to their name and give the listener nothing but their hearts-and-souls in all ten tracks. The album, based on personal experiences from singer/guitarist Ryan MacDonald's life, is said to be "learning to be honest with yourself when you're not sure what to believe". Tracks like "Haymaker" and "Ghosts and Graves" give off a Gaslight Anthem vibe, while tracks like "Broken Hands Pt. II" and "Truthteller" give off more of an alternative-country vibe, but still allows the album to flow perfectly. The stand-out track is "Peace For The Weary Soul", which speaks of the life of a musician and all the strife that they go through. From beginning to end this album has it all, thoughtful lyrics, one of the most moving guitar solos I've heard in years, playful drums, and soulful vocals: this is honest rock and roll.

10/10 - Flesh And Bone

"The CMW Questionnaire: The Honest Heart Collective"

As Canadian Music Week (CMW) takes over Toronto this week, we catch up with a number of the festival performers. Here is, Kevin Heerema of indie rock band, The Honest Heart Collective, participating in the CMW questionnaire. Click here to find out when the band is playing.

RY: An event like Canadian Music Week for my band is all about…

“The perfect mix of work and play. Since we live so far away from the music industry hotspot that is Toronto, we don’t take our time at Canadian Music Week for granted. We go to the panels and seminars during the day, and try to meet with industry professionals and artists we haven’t met before, while at the same time, we try to promote our own music and upcoming shows. So we work pretty hard during the week, but we also treat it as a bit of a vacation and go to Sneaky Dee’s pretty much every night to eat and drink with friends till 4am. Then we get up and get to work all over again.”

RY: When someone in the audience sees your band for the first time, what do you hope their reaction will be?

“I hope that people in the audience want to see us live again. We all take a lot of pride in our live show, and we all giver’ on stage because that’s what we admired when we were younger watching hardcore bands in Thunder Bay, so I feel like we all value our live show about as much as the music itself. Its always amazing when people say they loved the music and they buy CD’s, but when people think ‘Wow, I need to see this band again.’”

RY: What, when and where was the best show you’ve ever played? What made it so awesome?

“Hands down, our album release show for Liar’s Club last April at Black Pirate’s Pub in Thunder Bay is still my favourite show we’ve played. The turnout blew me away and the crowd was having a blast. Since then we’ve performed in front of a few bigger audiences, but seeing the support we had at home felt amazing. There was even a point in the show where everyone was screaming so loud that we had to actually stop, soak it all in and let it happen. You can’t top that.”

RY: What, when and where was the worst/weirdest show you’ve ever played? What made it terrible?

“In September ’14 we made our way out to New Brunswick and picked up a last minute show after one we had booked fell through. The venue had pretty much everything on the list of ‘things that make a venue bad.’ There was no stage, the bar was in the middle of nowhere, the PA system was set up terribly, there was no good beer, and no crowd except for a couple older people playing slots in the corner who left as soon as the music was going to start. There was also one very drunk guy, who turned out to be the owner of the venue, who started screwing around with the bass amp while the last band was playing, which lead to the bass player kicking the dude in the nuts, turning off his amp and saying ‘fuck this I’m done.’ It was all just really awkward, but we ended up making some good pals in a Toronto hardcore act called Partycat, so at least there was still some positivity.”

RY: What is the coolest thing fans will be able to find on your merch table?

“It’s a little basic, but I’d have to say our t-shirts. Our guitarist Keenan is a killer graphic designer and he created all of our t-shirt designs. He’s done a really good job of capturing the image we want to go for. Our back patches are pretty cool too. They look sick stitched to the back of a denim jacket.”

RY: When on tour, which do you crave the most? (And why?) Your own bed, your own shower, or a homemade meal?

“A homemade meal. I can pretty much fall asleep anywhere just fine, and sometimes I actually prefer a floor to a bed so I never miss my bed too much. As for showering, I kind of like being dirty, smelly and gross because it makes me feel like I’m living the tour life properly, so that’s not a big deal to me either.”

RY: What is your worst on-tour habit?

“I’ll wear the same pair of socks for way too long and my feet get smelly. I don’t even think it’s that bad, but the guys all yell at me for it because apparently whenever I take my shoes off in the van the whole thing turns into ‘a flying pop can of rancid death.’”

RY: What is the nerdiest thing about your band that you usually try to keep secret?

“Nic loves his fantasy novels, Ryan’s been reading the same book about Bruce Springsteen for I think a year now and I’ve recently picked up the hobby myself because I figured it might make me smarter (I don’t think it has.)

RY: Which song would you love to cover on-stage, but don’t think you’d be able to pull off?

“I have been begging the rest of the guys to try to cover ‘La La La’ by Sam Smith ever since I got to see him at WayHome 2015. I personally think a raw, kind of punky version of the song would sound awesome and be tons of fun, but nobody else shares my vision with that one at all. That, and A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton, because I would love to hear Conner rip that song on piano, but yet again, I stand alone.”

RY: What makes you most proud of your band?

“I am proud not only of the progress we’ve made as a band and the fan base we’ve gained, but I’m also proud of how hard we’ve been grinding behind the scenes to pursue this project. We’ve all made sacrifices for this band, we’ve done A LOT of driving and slumming around on tour, and we practice and write like crazy while we’re at home. Despite all the grueling hard work and situations we’ve had to endure, we all still love the band life and I’m proud that we’re not showing any signs of slowing down any time soon.” - RiffYou

"CMW 2016 Preview: The Honest Heart Collective"

The Honest Heart Collective is a six-piece Thunder Bay band getting ready to take Canadian Music Week by storm.

The band is made up of Ryan MacDonald on vocals and guitar, Nic MacDonald on bass and vocals, Jay Savage on drums, Kevin Heerema on guitar, Conner Harris on keyboards and vocals, and Keenan Kosolowski on guitar.

We caught up with Nic from The Honest Heart Collective to ask some questions about the band, CMW and more.

Let’s dive into the questions!

Q. Can you tell us how the band came together?

A. I wish there was an easier way to explain the conception of The Honest Heart Collective but there really isn’t – I’ll try to keep this as short and sweet as possible. The band started out as my brother Ryan’s solo project while he was living in Ottawa. The original name of the band was actually RM & The Honest Heart Collective, the idea was that he would write all of the music and then enlist myself, along with a revolving door of friends and musicians to back us once he moved home to Thunder Bay. The only problem was that the “friends and musicians” Ryan recruited had no intention of ever leaving. These people were all of our best friends, we’d been in bands with them before and they were willing to drop everything to dive headfirst into this band. Their commitment was palpable. For that reason, we collectively decided to drop the “RM &” from the beginning of our name upon the release our debut album Liar’s Club. Unfortunately, since then a few members have come and gone but the inspiration behind the band has stayed the same.

Q. You describe your music as “Folk-infused rock with a punk mentality”, can you elaborate a little for us?

A. We chose the words “Folk-infused rock” because way before there were six guys in this band, there was only one, one guy with an acoustic guitar writing folk songs. As the band grew our sound evolved. It became mainly comprised of guitar driven rock but we like to think that it’s still backed by the same honest, sentimental lyrics and songwriting that make good folk music. But we all grew up listening to punk and hardcore bands and they have majorly influenced the way we play our instruments. If you come out and see our live shows it will all make perfect sense.

Q. Was there a “moment” where you knew music was your future?

A. Was there a “moment”? I can’t say that it’s happened quite yet. I remember getting my first guitar when I was ten years old and thinking that it would be a miracle if I could make a future for myself by playing it. A few years later I attempted to start my first band with my best friend Kevin (who now plays guitar in The Honest Heart Collective) – that never even got off the ground. There were a few more bands throughout the years but none ever went anywhere. I guess you could say that the guys in The Collective have been breaking our backs our whole lives trying to earn that “moment”. In truth, I’m still not one hundred percent sure that music is my future, but I’ll never stop trying my hardest to make sure that it’s always a major part of it.

Q. We love CMW for a lot of reasons, what’s your favourite thing about this festival?

A. My favourite thing about CMW would have to be the 4am last call! Not because of the booze (maybe a little because of the booze), but because of the music! The extension keeps the music going well into the night and makes for some pretty excellent late night finds. You never know who you’ll find playing at 2:35AM on a Saturday night at the Rivoli or any other bar for that matter. Could be your new favourite band. I love CMW.

Q. Do you have any advice for bands just getting started?

A. That’s a tough question for me to answer since I myself consider The Honest Heart Collective a band that’s “just getting started”. However, we have had a few small successes in the short time that we’ve been a band. All I can say is never stop having fun with it, or at least trying to have fun with it. I know it can be disheartening to show up to a city you’ve never been to before and play to no one but the sound guy and two drunken idiots who spray beer all over your band (true story). But who knows? Maybe those drunken idiots will try to fistfight a bunch of cops on the sidewalk during your load out (also true). I guess what I’m trying to say is enjoy yourself, enjoy your band and enjoy every show to the fullest. Or else what’s the point?

Q. If we got a peek at your playlists right now, what artists would we find?

A. Oh dear *laughs*. My musical taste is everywhere. In any given playlist you’ll find songs from bands like Arkells and The Gaslight Anthem all the way to Counterparts and Every Time I Die. Right now I’m absolutely hooked on this band called Have Mercy, it’s just really good indie rock with semblances of the emo/post-hardcore music that I loved when I was a little kid. They’re seriously cool in my books.

Q. In 50 words or less, can you describe for our readers what to expect from a The Honest Heart Collective live show?

A. Energy. (I just saved you 49 words) See us live during Canadian Music Week, check out our schedule here! - The Reviews Are In

"INTERVIEW: The Honest Heart Collective"

Ryan MacDonald is the lead singer and guitarist of anthemic rock band, The Honest Heart Collective. When he isn’t listening to old Springsteen cassette tapes, he spends his time at local bowling alleys & collecting Fender Telecasters.

Q: Hi Ryan, welcome to VENTS! How have you been?

A: The weather is looking a lot more like spring here in Thunder Bay, so needless to say I’m doing pretty good.

Q: Can you talk to us more about your latest Single “Liar’s Club“?

A: It tells a story of someone becoming something they’re not and how they progress down this new path they’ve stumbled onto. Eventually that person comes to the realization that they’re hurting the people they care the most about and tries to become the person they were always meant to be.

Q: Did any event in particular inspired you to write this song?

A: After I dropped out of university, I found myself going through a ton of dead-end jobs, and being more miserable as time went on. It was a slow progression but the tipping point was when I moved away to college a few years later. I became that person in the song. I wasn’t being true to myself, or the people around me. I was cutting ties with people I loved back home, I’m not quite sure what the exact moment was but I managed to get back on track.

Q: Why naming the record after this track in particular?

A: To me, “Liar’s Club” represented this period of time in my life perfectly. It was the fall, the comeback, and the sentiment wrapped all together. I just couldn’t get the phrase out of my head, so it just made sense to name the record after it.

Q: How was the recording and writing process?

A: Grueling. Haha. I had gone to Algonquin College for audio engineering so we built our own recording studio above a bar in our hometown. We really tried our best at making a record. We’d write songs, scrap lyrics, rewrite parts, then we’d repeat. The first half of the record came easier than the second that’s for sure. There’s a bunch of ideas that we shelved or did nothing with. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to make this record the best it could be. It was our “this is who we are” moment, and we were desperate to make a great first impression.

Q: How did the experience you went through the record get to inspire the songs and lyrics?

A: It felt relentless, it was this day in day out process at the studio, and none of us had ever made a real record before, so as much as I thought I knew about recording, I realized how little I knew about making a record. But that’s what songs like “Peace for the Weary Soul” mean to me. Longing for rest and never getting it because of the dream you’re chasing. Coming to the studio every day and feeling like the thought of not being good enough to finish the record had punched me in the face. Looking back there’s these key moments in the studio that really reflect lyrics in the songs. In general I believe the process made the dark parts sound darker, but it made the light parts sound hopeful.

Q: I see you are covering lots of Johnny Cash songs (pretty awesome btw!) – what role does he plays in your music or you randomly choose to cover him?

A: Thank you! We really didn’t start to dive into Mr. Cash’s music until a few years ago, but it all started by choosing Folsom Prison Blues as the first song we’d cover live. That got me hooked. He just had this way of telling stories that very few songwriters had at the time. It’s made me become a better writer, to him a song told a story, and I’ve adapted to that way of thinking when I write songs. I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to quite do his songs justice, but I just can’t help but try. I have a vinyl copy of “Live from Folsom Prison” hanging on my wall. It was a gift my parents found when they were in Memphis. They go for $34 on ebay, but it’s priceless to me.

Q: Any plans to hit the road?

A: We’re heading down to Toronto for Canadian Music Week in a few days to play some pretty cool showcases, and then we’re hoping to get on a few summer festivals. There might even be a cross Canada tour this fall before heading back into the studio to record our next album. You can follow our Facebook page for the latest updates.

Q: What else is happening next in The Honest Heart Collective’s world?

A: We just bought a new tour van and it’s pretty rad. I think we’re going to hold a twitter contest to name it soon, so keep an eye on @honestheartco for that. Van Wilder, Vandalf the Grey, & Vanny McVanface are all in the running, tweet your ideas to us! - Vents Magazine

"The Honest Heart Collective - Cash"

The Honest Heart Collective gave us a sneak peek at their Johnny Cash Covers EP titled “Cash.” Their latest EP, set to release February 26th to commemorate the country legend’s birthday, brings Cash‘s classics back to life with a modern rock touch.

Not only did we like what blasted through our speakers here at RM; we loved it! Check it out!

You may have heard of The Honest Heart Collective for their debut full-length album released last year, The Liar’s Club, and if you haven’t…where have you been?

This six-piece Thunder Bay rock outfit is taking Canada by storm, and they deserve some serious credit. They are currently on their fifth self-navigated tour within the last twelve months and their hard work and dedication is really paying off. Make sure to keep your eyes on the ever-growing ‘folk-infused rock band’.

The Honest Heart Collective, founded in 2013, give us the roots of rock music with their own unique mix of folk and punk. In their “Cash” EP, they’ve incorporated their own unique style to the originals of Johnny Cash.

The band describe Johnny Cash as one of their biggest musical inspirations, along with icons like Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and Frank Turner.

The four-track tribute collection was recorded and mixed at singer Ryan MacDonald‘s Lionheart Studios. The raw and real sound that this EP emits is recognizable and will be very appreciated by its listeners. It’s easy to connect to the music and groove along with the flow of the songs.

The Honest Heart Collective could not have done better with their renditions of Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues, God’s Gonna Cut You Down, Jackson, and Hurt.

The upbeat tempo of Folsom Prison Blues gives the EP a strong and powerful start. It’s the hook that reels you in, leaving you wanting more. Immediately, you know that these covers are not your average cover band attempts at exposure. But a true revolution in music.

God’s Gonna Cut You Down continues the flow of the EP, and is the affirmation that The Honest Heart Collective really know how to pull together a successful and unique set of covers.

The third track, Jackson, features guest vocals from Maddy Loroff. Her voice compliments Ryan MacDonald‘s vocals perfectly in the reimagined version of the song.

Before we reach the end, Hurt ties together the entire EP with a profound, heartfelt rendition of the song. There is no way for this EP to disappoint.

You can stream the EP today, and we strongly recommend that you do.

Don’t forget to check out The Honest Heart Collective‘s website for tour dates!

Which Cash cover is your favourite? Let us know! We love them all! - Remember MEdia

"Album Review: 'Liar's Club' by The Honest Heart Collective"

The Honest Heart Collective's full-length debut is a folk and punk inspired collection of rock 'n' roll anthems. Mixing big hooks with heartfelt lyrics, Liar's Club is an enthralling record. Hailing from Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada, the band cranks out tight riffs and strong melodies over personal and honest lyrics that tackle life, love, and the road. At times The Honest Heart Collective's music is reminiscent of mid '90s alternative rock (Third Eye Blind), early '90s power pop (Gin Blossoms), and 2000s punk inspired anthem rock (The Gaslight Anthem) but more often than not it sounds like an amalgam of all three. Liar's Club is a solid debut from a band that shows a great deal of potential. - Oklahoma Lefty

"CBC Searchlight 2014"

Passionate, spirited, feel-good, anthemic rock music. Much like Treelines, Yukon Blonde, and The Get Up Kids. - CBC

"Top 10 Rock Songs of 2015"

Haymaker - The Honest Heart Collective - ReverbNation

"The Honest Heart Collective @ Adelaide Hall"

This weekend I headed to Adelaide Hall to photograph an amazing band from Northern Ontario, The Honest Heart Collective. More specifically they're from Thunder Bay...which means they have a 14 hour drive anytime they want to play a show in Southern Ontario. That is some serious commitment to play a show, and it's so nice to see such a big crowd show up to Adelaide to see them play. I took some photos of this super talented band which you can check out below.

PS. If you haven't listened to them already do that now, and go like their Facebook page to stay up to date on what they're doing! - Amy Buck Photography

"Show Review - The Honest Heart Collective"

The Honest Heart Collective closed the show with a heartfelt, lively set full of powerful folk rock tunes and good vibes. The venue was packed with enthusiastic fans that started singing and head banging along to the music as soon as the band began their set. The Honest Heart Collective always put on powerful, captivating shows, and this one was no different. Throughout the whole set the band played with an unbelievable amount of energy and lots of crowd engagement that kept the audience involved and excited. Along with their stage presence, the group writes soulful music with earnest lyrics, explosive instrumental tracks, and melodic hooks that are sure to keep the listener coming back for more. The band played an array of tunes featuring music from their album Liar’s Club as well as a cover of the Johnny Cash classic “Hurt” from their tribute EP Cash. This band is definitely worth checking out live, as they’ve proven they pretty much can do no wrong. - Canadian Beats

"Getting to Know: RM & The Honest Heart Collective"

In today’s Getting to Know, we meet folk-infused rock n’ rollers, RM & The Honest Heart Collective, a band that would like to be famous enough to have a hot tub backstage. If you are in an up and coming band that would like to partake in a Getting to Know feature, contact to receive the questionnaire and instructions. Thanks!

Band Name: RM & The Honest Heart Collective
Band Members: Nic MacDonald (bass, vocals), Jay Savage (drums), Kevin Heerema (lead guitar), and Ryan MacDonald (vocals, guitar).
Years Active: 2013 – Present
City of Origin: Thunder Bay, ON.
Latest Release: “Honest Hearts” single.

Who are you and what do you do?
“My name’s Ryan. I sing and play guitar in RM & the Honest Heart Collective.”

In 20 words or less, how would you describe your band?
“Folk-infused rock n’ roll with a punk mentality.”

Why should people care about your band?
“People gravitate to great, hardworking bands. Bands who’ll put on an amazing live show at your favourite venue, but afterwards are just friendly, relatable people. I know I care about bands that care about me. We strive to be one of those bands.”

What is the most hilarious, frightening, or weird thing you have seen from the stage or while on the road?
“We played some dive bar in Saint John, NB, on our fall tour last year. Six people showed up and the bar owner got super hammered. During the local band’s set, the bar owner went on stage and started screwing with the settings on the bass amp. The bassist then proceeded to hoof the bar owner in the nuts. It was hilarious.”

If you become a band that eventually fills stadiums or arenas, what would be the most ridiculous thing you’d require backstage?
“A hot tub.”

Which band could your band defeat in a street fight? What methods would you use to ensure victory?
“5 Seconds of Summer, by force-feeding them American apparel underwear until they die.” - RiffYou

"RM & The Honest Heart Collective on tour in support of Movember"

RM & The Honest Heart Collective hail from Thunder Bay, ON, and they play ‘folk-infused rock with a punk mentality.’ They sure did a great job at pinpointing their genre, because I can’t think of a better way to describe them after listening to their latest single “Honest Hearts.” The song was recorded and mixed at Lionheart Studios and mastered by Rob Nickerson. They’ve just announced their upcoming tour this month in support of The Movember Foundation, a men’s health organization that runs the famed annual moustache growing event. The band will be collecting donations at every show and donating 10% of all merch sales to the cause. Vocalist Ryan MacDonald states, “We’re really looking forward to this tour. We’re excited that Movember is supporting us; it’s a great cause that we’re passionate about. We can’t wait to start growing gnarly ‘staches.’” Well, you better start soon, Mo Bro, because it’s already the 5th of November! - BestFan

"Local band finalist in Toronto radio station's Next Big Thing (VIDEO)"

THUNDER BAY -- A local band could be the next big thing.

The Honest Heart Collective is one of six finalists in 102.1 The Edge's The Next Big Thing, earning a spot on the Toronto radio station's finale concert at the Phoenix Concert Theatre.

It's the latest in a string of good news for the Thunder Bay band, which features Ryan MacDonald on vocals and guitar, Nic MacDonald on vocals and bass, guitarist Kevin Heerema, drummer Jay Savage and Conner Harris on keys.

The band earned a spot on the Vans' Warped Tour this summer and were recently named "Your New Favourite Band" by Addicted Magazine.

They've also released a video for 'Haymaker' from their debut album Liar's Club. -

"CBC 88.1FM Voyager North"

Interview - CBC 88.1FM Voyage North - April 9, 2015 with Cathy Alex - CBC

"91.5 CKPR"

Interview - 91.5 CKPR on Aug 5, 2015 - CKPR

"Wild Rumpus"

Interview: CILU 102.7 FM - Wild Rumpus on August 10 2015 - CILU 102.7 FM

"Interview - The Honest Heart Collective"

The Honest Heart Collective creates passionate, uplifting folk rock that gets listeners dancing and singing along, with lyrics that anyone can relate to. Their first full-length album, Liar’s Club is one of the best albums I’ve ever listened to. The music is raw and honest, and the story of every song complements the others. The album‘s inclusion of both uplifting and more serious thought-provoking songs, along with the story-telling nature of the album, creates a liberating journey for the listener.

The group has travelled far –all the way from Thunder Bay-to make it to The Edge’s Next Big Thing Top 6 and to perform at the Phoenix Concert Theatre, where they are competing for $25, 000 cash, gear from Long and McQuade, expertise consulting from Dine Alone Records, recording time at Metal Works, and much more! I sat down with Ryan MacDonald, vocalist and guitarist of The Honest Heart Collective to speak with him before their set to discuss the competition, their music, and touring.

The Honest Heart Collective was founded in 2013, for such a young band, you’re well on your way to success especially with the Edge Next Big Thing. What have been some of the biggest or most memorable stepping-stones in your careers? What led you there?

Ryan: The first big stepping stone was jut getting to go out on our first tour in the spring of 2014. It was that first stepping stone that made us realize we can actually do this with this band. And then when we released our first full length album Liar’s Club in April 2015 that was our biggest accomplishment to date, just being able to put out a record that we were really proud of especially because we built the recording studio ourselves, we recorded it ourselves in Thunder Bay and sent it to get mixed and mastered in New York City. We also got to play the Vans Warped Tour this summer, which was a really fun experience. We got to be around so many bands, and it was kind of like being in this Warped culture and experiencing the camaraderie of a bunch of touring bands. And that brings us to today, The Edge Next Big Thing, making the top 6 out of 600 bands. It’s been pretty cool.

How have you been preparing for your performance at The Edge Next Big Thing?

Ryan: We’ve been practicing everyday. We basically just practice as much as possible, even on our own and together. We also go out and see other bands, we got to see The Arkells at Ottawa Blues Fest, we got to see how those guys do it, and we got to see The Gaslight Anthem. So we’ve been seeing how other bigger bands that are already successful put on shows, and instead of just being five guys up there playing songs, we’ve learned about how to be a band and how to put on a performance.

The Honest Heart Collective is one of the most professional-sounding bands that I have heard, compared to other smaller bands. Sometimes you come across a lot of bands that don’t really have their sound together or don’t know what they’re doing. You’ve only been a band for about two years and usually bands are still finding themselves at that point, but I find that your album is very well put together, as well as your live performances. Was it a challenge to achieve this caliber of performance and songwriting in such a short time? How did your sound develop or change throughout your time together as a band?

Ryan: When the band started, and I first started songwriting, it was just by myself and everything was a lot more acoustic and folk based. When we put the band together everything just evolved into a more electric sound. The record was interesting because we did it ourselves and built Lionheart Studios in Thunder Bay, which my brother Nic and myself operate and we just spent a lot of time experimenting. I went to school to learn how to record and he spent three or four months going to the studio everyday and laying down tracks. We thought about what we can do different and how we can get this sound. I think we took three weeks just to do Kevin’s guitar part because we were so meticulous with what we were doing and wanted to put something out there that was really great and something that we were really proud of. And we did just that.

Our mixing engineer Greg, he’s from a band called Moving Mountains, he’s mixed a ton of bands and he’s just phenomenal at what he does, so it’s all about working with the right people. Songwriting wise I had about half a record written before we started demoing and before the band really got together. And then we put it together, two of the songs were written during studio time because we had some songs that we just thought weren’t good enough so we tried some other riffs and other parts that we could work with and we got We’re Only Human and 149 out of those sessions. And those are some of my favourite songs on the record. We’re really happy with how the record turned out; I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.

Were there any numbers during the songwriting process that were your favourite to create? Do you have any songs off of the album that are your favourite to perform live?

Ryan: I would say my favourite one to play live is Liar’s Club; it’s really fun right now the way we’re doing it with a little surprise during the middle part. Haymaker is always a good time. But Beautiful Things is probably my favouriite one to play live because the crowd gets really involved and there’s that trade-off vocal part between the crowd and myself. Peace for the Weary Soul is always a good one to play with because of that a cappella piece at the end with the three harmonies. It’s definitely really tough but I’d have to say Liar’s Club is probably my favourite overall right now.

Did you ever have any disagreements during writing the album together and how did you overcome them?

Ryan: Kevin and I butted heads on the record a lot. We kept talking about what we were going to do with the guitar and lead guitar parts. Kevin came in on a record that was kind of half written, and we had another guitar player before who wrote the leads so I wanted them to sound the way they were before but Kevin really wanted to add more of a twist. I’m more of a simple guy when it comes to music, the more simple the better. Sometimes songs require a little bit more technical stuff but I just want to write what the song calls for. That was a big learning curve for the two of us because Kevin comes from a very technical guitar background and I don’t. I can’t play half the things he can play on guitar; he’s one of the best guitar players I’ve ever known. There’s one lead in Beautiful Things where the intro turns into the verse and Kevin does this run down and before it was even more simple and the part that Kevin had originally wrote was just insane, so we compromised and it all worked out for the best. Kevin and I were definitely the hardest ones to work with but it all made for the record to turn out better. If it weren’t for this group of guys we wouldn’t have had the record we have now.

You recently went on tour with Aukland. Did you find any differences between the music scenes in the cities you toured in compared to Thunder Bay?

Ryan: Thunder Bay’s got only 100,000 people, but it’s got a ton of music. For us, in Thunder Bay we can go out and play at a bar and bring out 300 people to see us play because we have a lot of friends and family but more and more recently I’m noticing in Thunder Bay, half or more of the crowds are people I don’t know. And that’s where it’s awesome back home. We’ve been down to Toronto maybe seven times and it keeps growing. The first time we played Toronto we played for 50 people, the second time was 70, third time we reached over 100, and last time we played in Toronto we had 200 people. And it just keeps growing, and it’s definitely different because in Toronto there’s a lot more noise going on. It’s harder to connect with people because there are so many great bands. Today we’re playing with five other bands that are some of the best bands in Ontario and its pretty special to be a part of a time where there’s a lot of emerging music. So it’s definitely different down here because there is so much going on, it’s really surreal to go to places like Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and it’s interesting to see how music scenes work. They each have their own set of rules, and Thunder Bay’s rules are a lot different than the rules down here.

The Honest Heart Collective definitely did not disappoint when it finally came time for them to leave everything on stage and perform at the Edge Next Big Thing. It’s safe to say that their performance at the Phoenix Concert Theatre was one of the most passionate and energetic sets I have witnessed performed live. The crowd went wild for them as the band exited after their final number among a flurry of excited shouts of support from the audience. Keep your eyes peeled for The Edge’s winning announcement on August 25th, 2015. - Canadian Beats

"Big Music Preview: 5 Breaking Bands We're Excited About"

“Folk-infused rock with a punk mentality”. Now who can’t get down to that? In the days of multi-genre blends, the Honest Heart Collective are off to a good start. Hailing from Thunder Bay, these Northern boys just finished up an Ontario-wide tour (with one stop in Montreal, to be fair!), gaining passionate supporters as they went. I was lucky enough to catch them at DSTRCT in Guelph recently, and was thoroughly impressed by their live act. Recently releasing their LP Liar’s Club, the Collective is establishing themselves all over the province as a force to be getting behind, or be reckoning with. Backed up by an excellent branding and marketing campaign, Honest Heart is poised to turn their music into a movement. - The Indie Blender

"Honest Hearts Are Hard To Come By"

Have you heard of RM & The Honest Heart Collective? No? Then do yourself a favour and check out this link. I’ll wait.

Done? Have you been converted? Perfect.

I had heard a lot about these guys for quite sometime, Ryan MacDonald (the titular RM) and I have known each other for a long time, and being that Thunder Bay isn’t exactly a big town, quality bands don’t tend to stay hidden for long. I knew a little about what to expect going into the show. Numerous friends had told me how similar they are to The Gaslight Anthem, and seeing how that is my favourite band my expectations were pretty high.

I’m happy to report that not only were my expectations met, they were blown away. While it was clear after the first song that Ryan MacDonald is quite familiar with the gospel of Brian Fallon, to call this band a Gaslight Anthem clone would be a huge disservice to the musicians and the sound they’re creating. The music is melodic and folksy a perfect fit for the bluesy vocal style.

Ryan’s lyrics are the typical fare for an emerging street poet. Tales of lost loves, mistakes and regrets all set to the steady groove provided by the Honest Heart Collective. They’re the kind of lyrics one turns to after their heart’s been broken, the ones that can really resonate and connect to an audience. It’s the music you expect to hear at the local dive bar 2 hours past last call.

While Ryan’s lyrics set the stage for these songs, it’s in the music of the Honest Heart Collective that really give the songs life. A great backing band is almost impossible to find, but with the right group of musicians one can truly make magic. Think of Bruce Springsteen without the E Street Band, Tom Petty without the Heart Breakers, Selena Gomez without The Scene (ok that last one may not be serious). They’re a group that performs with all the intensity and passion of a band that’s trying to save the very soul of Rock N’ Roll itself. One song at a time. The groups cover of Johnny Cash’s Folsom Prison Blues is the Collective at their best. Playing with an excitement that would make the Man in Black himself proud.

So if you find yourself wondering through Toronto on a lonely night and see a bar advertising “RM & The Honest Heart Collective live tonight!” do yourself a favour and go inside. I’ll be there with my camera in hand. - Naked On Bloor Street

"Band looks to focus on self-expression and connection"

Life can be a convoluted mess of lies and emotions. That’s where artistic expression comes in—be it through music, writing, or a combination of the two. “So take it day by day, minute by minute” are lyrics to the chorus of “A Little Time,” the first track on the EP released August 2013 by RM & the Honest Heart Collective, through Lionheart Studios. Ryan MacDonald, a 22-year-old graduate of the music industry arts program at Algonquin College is a member of RM & the Honest Heart Collective. The band was started quite a few years ago, and was MacDonald’s brainchild. “It was my idea, I had been working on a solo project for a few years but I couldn’t write anything worth putting out,” he said. “As soon as I wrote “A Little Time,” I knew I had something to share.” MacDonald said grassroots groups like RM & the Honest Heart Collective aim to bring music back to its primary focus—self-expression and connection with the audience. MacDonald is also responsible for the band’s name. “It had been a name that had just been ringing in my head for a long time. The ‘RM’ is just my name abbreviated to shorten the title. It also put less focus on myself, and more to the band as a whole,” he said. “To us the Honest Heart Collective means making music that is truthful and means something to people.” The band, originally based in Ottawa, has been relocated to Thunder Bay to work with all of its members. “We usually play at a bar called the Black Pirates Pub here in Thunder Bay,” MacDonald said. “It has the best sound guy and bartenders I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with.” The band released its first EP in August 2013—a release MacDonald said he could trace back to his family. “I had been struggling with writing and recording because I was going to school during the summer, the thought of releasing an EP moved to the back burner,” he said. “One day my dad told me if I had an EP and recorded it that he and Linda would finance the release.” Creating lyrics that capture a snapshot of time and emotion was a long process for MacDonald, who writes all of the band’s music. “For this record, my main inspiration was being homesick and away from the people I love,” he said. The future appears to hold good things for RM & the Honest Heart Collective, according to MacDonald. “We’re writing our follow-up record right now, and are going to start recording in March. We’re also planning our first tour for the beginning of April.” RM & the Honest Heart Collective’s music is pure and real, created with blood, sweat, and tears just like most other works of art. - The Charlatan

"Honest Heart Collective's Thunder Bay Road"

The Honest Heart Collective’s ‘Liars Club’ has a built in contradiction. The album is the debut from the Thunder Bay rockers who combine some good ol’ Yankee heartland rock (Springsteen, Mellencamp) with some northern most tip of the Canadian country sound (The Band); Thunder Bay to Thunder Road.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Ryan MacDonald says the Liars Club is for good people who do bad things, “every person has two sides, it’s about making mistakes and making up for them. Just because you've done some bad things doesn't make you a bad person,” he says.
MacDonald and his brother, bassist, Nic, form the heart of the Collective. They shared music tastes when they were young and a taste for the devil’s water as they got older.
“My brother and I have been playing in bands since we were kids. In 2012, I moved to Ottawa for school and somewhere along the line I developed a love for Irish whiskey and started writing/recording songs. I'd send the Pro Tools sessions to Nic and he'd write all the bass parts for me and send them back. Those songs eventually became The Honest Heart Collective and we've had that brotherly, whiskey loving attitude ever since,” says MacDonald.
Other members of the band are Kevin Heerema on guitar, Jay Savage on drums and keyboardist Conner Harris.
MacDonald says musically they have been compared to the Boss and while he says Thunder Bay has no direct influence on the music they make he adds “lots of people have said we have a Springsteen-esqe sound and I think that comes with growing up in a small blue collar city just like he did.”
The T-Bay is a working class town and as such its glory days may be behind it now. There have been a lot of changes in The Lakehead however as the area transitions. MacDonald says the music scene is thriving and the city is an open and intense place to learn and earn your chops. It is after all where Neil Young met Steven Stills.
“There's so many great musicians in Thunder Bay so everyone feeds off each other, it’s a friendly competition but it's extremely supportive at the same time,” he says.
Aukland (Mississauga) are supporting the Honest Heart Collective on their current south Ontario tour. - SlowCity

""Thanking The Rock and Breathing" The Honest Heart Collective After The Big Performance"

The Honest Heart Collective came on stage and played their best show, which was also deemed the most nerve-wracking. With their fate yet to be determined and the success behind them, a sweaty, dazed and happy Ryan MacDonald talked about how a certain wrestler helped him out before playing as a part of the top six at The Edge’s Next Big Thing.

“It was awesome. As soon as the drums kicked in all my fear just went away. It was perfect. I don’t think we could have played any better.”

Still enthralled from show, and now relaxing with a beer in the media lounge, it was clear the performance high was still bright in the singer’s eyes. Not one to normally let his emotions claim a show, MacDonald felt the pressure with the contest on the line.

“I have anxiety. This is the first time playing a show with so much on the line. I could feel it in my arms. I could feel this tension building and it was nerve wracking to move forward. I was sitting on the steps backstage before the show just thinking, ‘okay, you know, you’re gonna have to do this. Make it work.’”

Normally the singer calms himself by breathing and focusing on vocal health, but with five other bands to beat he needed something a little more intense to keep him focused. Something which came from an unexpected source: a video of a speech Dwanye “The Rock” Johnson gave to the US Women’s Soccer Team, that he admits he watched over and over before the show.

“It was like ‘you guys are rock stars,’ and ‘you guys are perfect,’ the only thing that was off was instead of of saying 5 he said twenty-three.”

Laughing at the silliness now, MacDonald stands by his unofficial support system.

“I put him on our guest list, I don’t know if he’s coming,” he joked. “All I know if that, if The Rock shows up I wouldn’t want him to be paying cover. - Jesus' Sister

"Show Review - Summer Bash"

All the way from Thunder Bay, The Honest Heart Collective graced the stage at the Masonic Lodge next. There was another shift in genre and atmosphere once this band began to play as they brought a mature sound that set them apart from others which was reminiscent of classic alternative and folk rock. Their opening number, Peace for the Weary Soul, had me hooked right away, reminding of the same musical structures that Rise Against uses in some of their songs. This song was well put together, soulful, and performed with an energy that was ripe with power and a chorus that is sure to get stuck in your mind, and pull at your heartstrings. It moves into an instrumental interlude that starts simple, yet effective and builds into a passionate guitar solo. The song ends with an instrumental rest; the chorus is repeated among silence and subtle harmonies. Considering that harmonies are the way to my heart, I was very pleased. The rest of the set followed in a similar manner, with each song engaging the crowd and sending out positive vibes, and special guest appearances from excited members of Aukland joining on stage to sing and dance along. - Canadian Beats


Grief Rights (2018)

Track Listing:

1. North American Dream
2. I've Got You
3. Separate Ways
4. Debts
5. Strike Sound
6. Lonely Bones
7. Eleanor
8. When Her & I Began

Cash (2016)

Track Listing:

1. Folsom Prison Blues
2. God's Gonna Cut You Down
3. Jackson (feat. Maddy Loroff)
4. Hurt

Liar's Club (2015)

Track Listing:

1. Liar's Club
2. Haymaker
3. We're Only Human
4. Broken Hands Pt. II
5. Beautiful Things
6. Peace For The Weary Soul
7. Ghosts & Graves
8. 149
9. Truthteller
10. Honest Hearts

Honest Hearts (Acoustic) (2015)

Track Listing:

1. Honest Hearts (Acoustic)

Folsom Hearts EP (2014)

Track Listing:

1. Honest Hearts
2. Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash cover)

RM & the Honest Heart Collective EP (2013)

Track Listing:

1. A Little Time
2. Lives
3. For Her
4. Crutches
5. To The People I've Wronged
6. Broken Hands



Anchored by four lifelong friends, The Honest Heart Collective was born from brothers Ryan and Nic MacDonald, a moment at a Springsteen concert, and a rotating cast of musicians made permanent. Buoyed by the backdrop of their Northern Ontario roots, the band embodies an old soul take of heart-on-sleeves storytelling through music. Armed with the self-built Lionheart Studios, a blue-collar mentality, and a new collection of songs, THHC recorded their LP Grief Rights with producer Derek Hoffman.

"These songs capture that everyday fight you have with who you are and who you want to be. A year and a half ago, I was an anxious mess. I started to see a therapist who really made me dig deeper into myself. After a few sessions, he told me that the root of my anxiety was that I wasn't allowing myself my grief rights. It's a period of time when it was okay to not be okay. It was a strange concept to me and not knowing what to do, I dove into books about my idols and revisited some of my favourite records. The phrase "Grief Rights" has stuck with me since that session, and honestly, it changed my life." — Ryan MacDonald

Band Members