Head­stones re­turn with a dif­fer­ent mind­set

Times Colonist - - Go - MIKE DEVLIN mde­[email protected]­colonist.com

What: Head­stones with the Stock­ers When: Tonight, 8 p.m. Where: Distrikt Night­club, 919 Dou­glas St. Tick­ets: $28 at tick­et­zone.com and at the Strath­cona Ho­tel

For singer Hugh Dil­lon, the era of tours that run for months on end is of­fi­cially over.

Dil­lon and his re­united group of rab­ble-rousers, the Head­stones, have switched gears in their sec­ond chap­ter. In place of ex­haust­ing and ex­pen­sive na­tional tours are se­lect dates aimed at sa­ti­at­ing long­time fans in se­lect mar­kets.

“I think that’s why th­ese shows now are more ex­plo­sive,” Dil­lon said. “Each show counts. [Fans] are see­ing a band that gives a s--t.”

Dur­ing their ini­tial run as a group, Hugh Dil­lon and the Head­stones had some mem­o­rable nights in Vic­to­ria — on stage and off. The Hamil­ton­bred group is set to pay back the city that sup­ported it with a rare con­cert tonight at Distrikt, one of just two B.C. ap­pear­ances on the band’s tour itin­er­ary and one of just six Canada-wide dates.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent mind­set from: ‘Hey, we’re com­ing to your town, I hope peo­ple buy our records and show up at our gig.’ We’re go­ing be­cause we love th­ese towns.”

Dil­lon and his group haven’t played on Van­cou­ver Is­land since 2002, so their re­turn is long over­due. There was no bad blood be­tween the group and its front­man fol­low­ing their 2003 split, though the Head­stones did al­most ruin what was once a very promis­ing ca­reer. To wit, the band’s un­of­fi­cial slo­gan now reads: “Making bad life choices since 1989.”

“We al­ways slipped be­tween the cracks on ev­ery­thing,” said Dil­lon, 52. “Be­cause of our love of al­co­hol and drugs, we couldn’t get our s--t to­gether. Our pri­or­i­ties have changed. Now, we’re go­ing back to ba­sics.”

The quar­tet has earned four Juno Award nom­i­na­tions, with help from a se­ries of hit sin­gles. De­spite its pop­u­lar­ity in the mid-1990s — which came cour­tesy of the hits When Some­thing Stands for Noth­ing, Tweeter and the Mon­key Man, Smile and Wave and Un­sound — Dil­lon feels the group never of­fi­cially got its due.

Dil­lon en­joyed a solid act­ing ca­reer af­ter the band broke up, with key roles on TV shows Durham County and Flash­point. He had less to jug­gle when the Head­stones were apart, film­ing a hand­ful of film and TV roles each year.

But now that Dil­lon, guitarist Trent Carr, bassist Tim White, and drum­mer Dale Har­ri­son are back to­gether for at least a dozen shows an­nu­ally, the fa­mously iras­ci­ble singer has had to be­come more or­derly.

That’s a good thing, Dil­lon ad­mit­ted. “What helped most was get­ting off the road and out of the tour cy­cle,” he said. “The old way of do­ing it was to grind it into the ground. Once you fig­ure out where to go and a vi­able way to get there, and do it with some kind of in­tel­li­gence, you do it be­cause you love it. You go places you want to go, and it sur­vives on its own merit.”

Dil­lon said he is clean, sober and able to bet­ter enjoy what he has earned thanks to his ca­reer with the Head­stones. The best part is that ev­ery show since their 2011 re­union has been bet­ter than the one that came be­fore it, he said.

“As op­posed to say­ing: ‘We’re so hun­gover and f----d up, let’s hope tonight goes well,’ we’re now like a hockey team ready for a fight. We’re say­ing some­thing. We’re not just go­ing through the mo­tions.”

Hugh Dil­lon, sec­ond from left, and the Head­stones.

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