Edmonton, January 1994

Anything but R.I.P.

Hugh Dillon of the Headstones

Interview by Michele Martin

35-second excerpt from "Cemetary" (271 Kb .au file)

I caught up with Headstones vocalist Hugh Dillon recently at Foxfest '96. Looking like a camper gone bad in his khaki shorts, bush jacket and hiking boots, trademark hair on end, Hugh took a few minutes to come down from his performing high, waiting patiently, cigarette in hand, while I fumbled with the tape recorder from hell.

That fixed, I asked Hugh about their new tunes, some of which they played during their set. "It's a lot of work, actually. We've got a lot of songs and now it's the difficult part of paring down. Personally, if it were up to me, I'd release a double record, but we can't, so... There's gonna be 13 songs and they're all really good songs, like I'm just excited about playing them. I like the way they're written, they're the kind of thing you do, like after you write a piece, and you read it back and you can't believe you did it, it's that good. I don't know how I did it, I fluked out, but it's good. These songs just came out of nowhere and just flew in and we nailed 'em."

Foxfest, Vancouver, 1996 Hugh's excitement with the new material was visible as he spoke animatedly about the band's current recording: "Also, it's been good this time because a lot of bands, boom, right off the road into writing and they record immediately and I think that's a burnout because it's just a cycle, whereas we've been lucky because we've had time off and we've got a great record company and also I did that movie in October, so it fit our schedule and we still toured our asses off. It all just came in at the right time and it's really given us a new perspective on playing, and I'm dying for it to get out [in October]."

Having seen Hugh in his debut acting role as a small town villain in Bruce McDonald's Dance Me Outside, I was curious about his acting experiences: "It was great. Bruce approached me about it, I was interested. The money you make in movies compared to rock and roll is outstanding, but that wasn't the reason why. I kinda liked the part and he's been very good about letting me - because I'm a writer, singer/songwriter first -be part of the collaboration of writing things so I get to write dialogue and stuff like that, so there's a lot more involved than just, hey, I get to be on the screen, so it was just interesting... and it was really professional and so you kinda learn a lot of discipline from making movies."

Headstones press photo What about his starring role in Hard Core Logo, also by McDonald, due for release this October: "It's a piece of work. It's his best movie, and not because I'm in it either (lots of laughter here), but it's just fantastic."

What does the near future hold for Hugh's acting career? "It all revolves around the band and getting the okay from Trent [Carr, the band's guitarist]. Basically, we look at our schedule, we look at if the part's retarded or something or there's no interest and if the only reason you'd do it would be for money, we don't take it. Bruce is a friend of ours, so when he asked, in fact I turned it down at first. I felt bad about it and I'm going to Trent, 'Ah, I don't have the guts to tell him no, but...'"

I was beginning to wonder how I could reconcile the image of the swaggering, spitting, raucous wild-man on stage with this intelligent, articulate, relatively soft-spoken person sitting in front of me. "It's just like playing hockey because this music's fairly aggressive. When you come off, you're sweating and you really get into it, and I'm hyperactive anyway, so, fuck, hey, this is exciting, it's just like drinking beer.... It's great music and it's the music I wanted to play and it just evolved. I used to play a lot of hockey and it reminds me of playing hockey -the game's on, you want to play well, and you want to play..."

So, what's the most important thing in his life right now? Hugh shook his head, and paused for a few moments. "Man, that's a tough one." Hesitating briefly, he plunged right in: "Just dumping a lot of baggage. That's the most important thing to me right now... especially since we've got more successful, I've been afforded the luxury of just dumping shit that you carry around with you that just makes you a miserable motherfucker."

It seemed only natural to ask him where his music fit in with dumping that baggage: "Writing songs is great because it gets you off your ass and you have to do it. Like at our stage of the game we have to write songs and I've never had to write songs before, and I don't work very well that way either. I'm one of those guys who'll wait until the last... procrastination's a wild fucking thing."

First published in Drop-D Magazine on August 2, 1996

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