Headstones return with a different mindset
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.