Formed in Kingston, Ontario, Headstones were centred around frontman Hugh Dillon, guitarist Trent Carr, Tim White on bass, and drummer Mark Gibson. They began playing the local area in the late 1980s, moving up to the Toronto scene.
From this point their road and stage antics were growing the ire of many fans and other industry professionals, A potty-mouthed Hugh Dillon got in the habit of spitting on the audiences and hurling lit cigarettes into most pits, and coupled with their backstage behaviour, they were often not booked and disliked by other bands.
Nonetheless, one thing led to another in 1993, when they befriended a Toronto club owner, who in turn set them up with MCA Records rep Cam Carpenter. He signed them to a deal and set them up with producer Mark Berry, releasing their debut album, PICTURE OF HEALTH later that year. The lead-off single, “When Something Stands for Nothing” and its follow-up “It’s All Over” both made the top 40. But it was the third single, the cover of The Traveling Wilburys’ “Tweeter and the Monkey Man” that gave them their first top 3 Canadian hit. “Cemetery,” and “Three Angels” followed, and the record was certified platinum (100,000 units).
The band embarked on an ambitious tour that kept them on the road until the fall of 1994, after which Gibson packed up his drumsticks and left. Dillon meanwhile was pursuing an acting career on the side, and landed roles in the low budget flicks “Hard Core Logo” and “Dance With Me,” both which coincidentally used “Cemetary” for their soundtracks.
Dale Harrison was hired as the new drummer, and while working on their sophomore album, they recruited new producer Glen Robinson. But unhappy with the way recording was going, they brought Mark Berry back to re-work the songs, and TEETH AND TISSUE was finally on the shelves in the fall of 1995. The first single was the heavy handed “Unsound,” which fell short of label and management’s expectations, despite making the top 40. “Heart Love and Honour” fared slightly better while the band was again on the road, but made no dent whatsoever south of the border. Other noteable cuts included “Dripping Dime Sized Drops,” and “Swinging,” more tales of a rock star, as told by Dillon. The album was certified gold (50,000 copies), and the band was nominated for a pair of JUNOs in ’96, for Best Group and Best Rock Album, although they failed to capture either.
Brad Nelson was brought in behind the controls when they released SMILE AND WAVE later that year, their most critically acclaimed record. All three singles, “Cubically Contained,” the title track, and “And” all spent time on the charts, all peaking in the top 20 on the alternative rock charts.
They returned for NICKELS FOR YOUR NIGHTMARES in the spring of 2000. The band was older, Carr and Harrison had both become fathers, and Dillon was out of rehab and was clean, and the music was more mature. With Paul Northfield producing, “Settle” and “Blonde and Blue” reached #4 and #8 on the Canadian chart. Label reps had big aspirations for both singles south of the border, but American fame still eluded the band, prompting MCA to drop the band a year later.
Contemplating things, members went off to do their own things for the next few years again. MCA released the compilation GREATEST FITS in ’01, which featured “Come On” and the previously unreleased “Blowtorch” and “Come On,” which was also featured on the videogame Triple Play 2002.
They returned with a new deal with Maple Music and BMG in ’02 with THE ORACLE OF HI FI. “Reframed,” the only single, was released to little fanfare, due in part to label’s apparent lack of interest. A critics’ rave, the album also contained the balls-out riffs of the lead-off “Whatchagonnado,” “Nothing Changes,” and “Devil’s Road.” But no push, coupled with Dillon’s acting aspirations and others’ outside projects, the album killed the band, and they disbanded after a few Canadian dates later that year.
After their breakup, Dillon formed THE HUGH DILLON REDEMPTION CHOIR, which was good for one album, THE HIGH COST OF LOW LIVING in ’05. He’s also appeared on both the small and big screens, in The Trailer Park Boys’ movie, “Assault on Precinct 13,” and “The Prince & The Pizza Boy,” and “Durham County,” “Degrassi: The Next Generation,” “Liberty Street,” and “Flashpoint.” White went on to become a music producer and composer for both television and big screen projects.
The band reunited in 2011, playing a series of dates around southern Ontario that February, and then extending that to Edmonton and Niagara Falls, NY that December.