By Kyle Wells
Getting back to basics and doing what they love for all the right reasons has Canadian rockers The Headstones all fired up with renewed energy and focus.
So said frontman Hugh Dillon, speaking after a rehearsal session in Ontario, as the band best known for 1990s hits “Tweeter and the Monkey Man,” “When Something Stands for Nothing” and “Cubically Contained” get set to hit the road and introduce audiences to their new album, Little Army.
It can be easy to dismiss reunions of 1990s bands as nostalgia acts or greatest hits tours, but with the new album out, a track at the top of Canada’s Active Rock Radio charts and a rediscovered thirst for playing live, the Headstones are bucking the trend.
“Whatever it is when bands break up, and with us it was all sorts of drugs and alcohol things, we had to grow up ourselves,” said Dillon. “So when we got back together … we started playing the songs and realized, fuck, this is fun. … And because there is no pressure to sell out dates or make records or anything, we did it because we enjoy hanging out and we enjoy playing rock and roll.” The same spirit is why the band got together in the first place, when they were all just kids in Kingston who enjoyed getting a case of beer on the weekend, hanging out and banging out some songs. Dillon said they were all “hypercritical” of the music of the time, and simply wanted to see if they could do better, in search of “that authentic sound.”
Dillon feels they’ve found it with Little Army, released this past June. He’s enjoyed working on new songs, loves guitarist Trent Carr’s latest riffs, said bassist Tim White wrote a killer track with “Sunlight Kills the Stars,” and feels he himself has become a huge fan of the band all over again.
“With this record here there was no letup on the gas, it was just complete focus, completely intense, and we did it all ourselves,” Dillon said. “And that translates into the live gigs.”
After one show in Calgary, the Nov. 9 stop in Victoria at the Capital Ballroom (formerly Sugar Nightclub) kicks off a string of gigs in Western Canada, plus Ontario and a dip down into Buffalo, New York.
Dillion remembers playing in Victoria in 1993 at Harpo’s in Bastion Square, but said his fondest memories of the city primarily happened off stage, such as nearly falling off a balcony before Edwin of I Mother Earth pulled him back at the last moment. He also remembers renting mini-bikes.
“We were very young and just starting to tour and drunk all the time, and wiping out on the mini-bikes was a big thing,” said Dillon.
“You remember all sorts of things, just craziness.”
With sobriety and, presumably, maturity, the off-stage antics have relaxed, but the on-stage commitment to that Headstones sound and spirit hasn’t.
“First of all, you’ve got to love it,” Dillon said.
“If it’s just your vision, and it works, it’s fucking gratifying. There’s no compromise.” Visit ticketfly.com for tickets.