Interview with Darby Mills from The Headpins

The Headpins were formed in the early 80's by Ab Bryant and Brian MacLeod as a sort of 'side project' away from their other band Chilliwack. However after the release of the debut CD, Turn it Loud, the group took off on their own merit. Fronted by powerhouse vocalist Darby Mills they released three successful albums and toured Canada cost-to-coast throughout the early to mid 80's. Sadly, Brian MacLeod passed away from cancer in 1992. Currently original band members Darby Mills, Ab Bryant (bass), Bernie Aubin (drums), along with Alfie Galpin (guitar) and Tony Dellacroce (guitar) still tour regularly, entertaining fans of all ages with their upbeat hard edge rock n' roll. I recently had a chance to catch up with Darby during a stop over in Saint John, New Brunswick for this interview.

GB- Its great to see the band back here on the east coast as it has been a while.

DM- Yes, I think we were here five years ago when we did a show with Lynyrd Skynyrd and Heart just outside of Moncton. Your always ready to party and have a good time out here (laughs).

GB- Do you tour all year round now or just in the summer time?

DM - No, we work all year round We are pretty consistent now. We've slowed down a little bit in the last couple of years. I have a family at home and obligations I have to fulfill for my kids. Actually pretty much all of us now have kids so we try to plan it so that we play two weeks out of every twelve or fourteen, get out and get back home and try to pick up the pieces. We work fairly steady. Everybody in the band went off after the band broke up the first time and did projects. Abner, our bass player, went off and worked with Jimmy Barnes for a couple of years in Australia and toured though the states with ZZ Top. Our new guitar player worked with Jerry Doucette and numerous blues bands out of Vancouver. And our original drummer Bernie has turned himself into a Canadian classic rock agent, so he books just about every classic rock sct in Canada. I had the opportunity to do a solo album back in 1991 which is a lifetime ago. I worked that for two years, but the amount of time and energy I put into that I just don't find it fair to do that to my kids right now. When they don't need mom at home anymore maybe that will change.

GB - How old are your kids?

DM - They are 10 and 5, just little guys.

GB- It's great your first two albums are now out on cd as it was a long time coming. Any chance of seeing a live album some day or some new material getting released.

DM- Well miracles never cease (laughs) but I don't know, maybe. We will have to see. We're pretty busy with a life right now and just living. Maybe if the right moment comes up or the opportunity comes up and the right financing and all those kind of things. Its not a priority right now for us but once everybody's life kind of calms down, like you know that's going to happen (laughs), maybe it will happen, who knows. We'll play it by ear. We fond out there were albums called "Greatest Hits" coming out and they have nothing to do with us we don't get payed for them. Just record companies who have money to go purchase our property without our consent. So we have three albums out and three greatest hits out so I find that fairly ironic. But whatever, they will get theirs one day as we will get ours.

GB - Do you often think of Brian when your out on stage?

DM - Yes, I mention him just about every night. Its shame he is gone and not here with us anymore.

GB - I notice your now using crutches, what happened to your foot?

DM - Tae Kwon Do. I was testing for a belt, a pre to your first black and I had do a flying side kick to break a board. I broke a board but in landing I broke the foot of the gentleman holding the board and snapped my ankle. Its unfortunate because I like to do a lot of moving on stage. I still rock as much as I can and get out there and put on as much of a show as I can. I got a little stool set up, so sometimes you don't even know I was on crutches if you didn't see me hobble onto the stage. You might not notice if you weren't paying attention.

GB - Do you find more people coming out to see classic rock bands these days thanks to the popularity of classic rock radio?

DM - Perhaps. We haven't been out to eastern Canada for a long time but we never really stopped with the exception the five year hiatus. We have been on tour from Vancouver to Thunder Bay steady for that last twelve years. We are old hat out there. We got our regulars that come out to the shows all the time so I couldn't tell you what's going on out here. I'm hoping people are starting to come back as we would like to come out to the east more often and get a chance to branch out. A couple of years back we fell into a New Years gig across the American line in Idaho I think it was. We discovered there was a hole culture down there that knew of Canadian classic rock and we have spent that last four of five summers going down there which is incredible. They listen to Alberta radio stations and stuff. It was like WOW we never toured here when we were in our heyday and now we are right back in the swing of things. We did tour down in Texas and we did incredibly well but the band broke up and we didn't have a chance to cultivate that but I'm sure if we get the opportunity we will run into some old fans.

GB- What caused the band to break up back then?

DM - Lots of things. You don't want to know (laughs). It was messy and ugly and was for many years but such is life. You get over it and move on and we we are lucky to be one of those bands who had a big enough following that its been eighteen years since our last release and we are still out working relatively solid. There is a good fan base across the country that has been supportive and we are very appreciative of that. Hopefully we still deliver a decent show and people will come back.

GB- What does the future hold for the band?

DM - Who knows. We will just keep playing the cards as they come to us. I will let you know when I know (laughs).

Interview conducted in July of 2004