TORONTO — Pop-rock collective the Strumbellas say they’ve found a new lead vocalist as their long-time frontman Simon Ward exits the public face of the band.

The Canadian group behind the 2015 hit single “Spirits” shared the details on Tuesday, calling it a decision they thought “long and hard about” before telling fans.

Jimmy Chauveau, former lead singer of Toronto rock quintet Ascot Royals, will now head the Strumbellas, while Ward assumes a more behind-the-scenes role, continuing his contributions as a songwriter.

Addressing his decision in a statement on Tuesday, Ward called the Strumbellas one of his “greatest passions.”

“I am just not cut out to tour to the same extent anymore,” he said.

“And as much as I love the band, I have decided I would like to put my focus on my first loves: songwriting and being at home with my family.”

The Strumbellas called Ward their brother and say they “fully support” his new role in the group.

“We’re writing new songs together and working to get new Strumbellas songs to our fans as soon as we can,” they added.

Tuesday’s announcement comes after the two-time Juno winners say Ward approached them about “taking a step back from touring.”

Ward acknowledged in a 2021 interview with The Canadian Press that his mental health worsened while on the road and became especially dire in the midst of a 2019 European tour. The fallout caused the Strumbellas to sideline a run of 14 Canadian dates in early 2020.

Last winter, the band released the single “Greatest Enemy,” penned by Ward about his struggles with depression and anxiety.

He followed it up with his debut solo album last November under the name Simon and the Island. Ward described the project at the time as “being in a dark place but seeing the sliver of hope shine in.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2022.

David Friend, The Canadian Press