In 1993 Canadian rock group Headstones created an impressive debut album entitled Picture Of Health. The album, featuring “When Something Stands For Nothing,” “Cemetery” and a Traveling Wilburys cover, was certified platinum in 1999 and remains one of the band’s landmark efforts.
Now 25 years since that release the Headstones are back with a remastered reissue of Picture Of Health (out Oct. 26) and a Canadian tour celebrating it. It’s an album guitarist Trent Carr says the band poured a lot of love into back then and now with the reissue.
“When we got into it, because everything we do to be really great, it was a lot of work,” he says alongside bassist Tim White. “But there were a couple of factors that made it more fun. One is the reissue has all new photos and descriptions and cool little things in the jacket that aren’t in the original. We also did the album cover as a different version of the original. It looks a lot different and a lot more in keeping with the aesthetic that we have now.”
White says the band was extremely wet behind the ears when it came to the recording ins and outs while making Picture Of Health.
“We had no idea what we were doing,” he says. “When I look back on it I was like, ‘How did we even do that?’ We didn’t even know anything about what the knobs did (laughs). For us, it was just another location to have a party. There was no respect for them, ‘Oh my god, we’re spending so much money and making this record that a record company is paying for.’ It was like, ‘My god, we fooled all these people into making a record. It’s amazing.’”
Carr says the album sounds as fresh today as it did back then. It’s also a record that still resonates with the band’s loyal fan base.
“It’s a really cohesive record,” he says. “When you listen to it top to bottom thematically it’s all in the same world. The production is very solid, it’s really consistent, everything sounds the same from song to song. It’s a record that’s really easy to get drawn into. It holds up with a lot of great rock records in my opinion in that way. Like similar to something like (AC/DC’s) Back In Black.
“It has a sound to it. A lot of records at that time didn’t really have a sound to them. They were just kind of like song after song after song and each one was treated differently. So I think that’s why it is. You can listen to that record and lock onto it and it’ll stay with you.”
One of the surprises from the album was a cover of “Tweeter And The Monkey Man” by The Traveling Wilburys. White says the band started toying around with the song while in a Toronto area rehearsal space that also served as a quasi-apartment.
“I remember sitting around with Hugh (singer Hugh Dillon) and he’s like singing the song to me and I’m like, ‘I don’t know what song this is but it sounds cool.’ He goes yeah, it’s the Traveling Wilburys. I barely knew who the Traveling Wilburys were at the time.
“I didn’t really care but the lyrics were really cool and the way he was singing it sounded cool. So we just kind of went with it and I made the chords to what I thought they should be to the way he was singing it. It turned out to be a little bit raw. We just sort of created our own version of it through my own naivete and Hugh’s love for the song.”
The tour, which kicks off in Hamilton on Nov. 1 and visits Toronto’s Danforth Music Hall Dec. 22, will see the group play the album start to finish before tossing in a handful of signature tunes to cap off the night. Equally eager to tour behind the album is drummer Jesse Labovitz, who was a mere 10 years old when the album was first released.
“He plays it (the album) with this really youthful energy,” Carr says. “It’s almost like he’s really, really excited about it. He’s almost as excited now as when we first recorded it.”
The band are also spending the early portion of 2019 working on a new album entitled People Skills in Kingston at the studio owned by The Tragically Hip. It’s an album White says is “like the next chapter in the same book” compared to the band’s previous album Little Army.
Both White and Carr said the reissue brought back some fond and funny memories, including an agreement that unnerved everyone around them.
“We had this joke at the time that if you walked out of a room you should slam the door,” White says. “That it would make everybody else think that that person was mad at somebody. It got out of hand. I think we broke every single door in the studio. We found that hilarious.
“And Metalworks (studio) has a lot of doors,” Carr added. “God that was funny every time. We would do it dozens of times a day and we were there for a month.”
Finally, the band got high praise earlier this year when AC/DC’s lead singer Brian Johnson sent a video message to the band congratulating them on 25 years.
“It was pretty exciting,” White says. “We have a mutual friend and they were talking and he wanted to give us that congratulations so we took it. He’s an iconic man so you can’t get much more iconic than that.”