Leatherface never achieved the success they deserved. In the late '80s and early '90s, the UK punk band created a sound - marked by gravely vocals, killer riffs, and an underlining pop sensibility - that earned them a cult following in Britain. While the band never broke North America, they were a huge influence on groups like Hot Water Music and Dillinger Four, and whether it’s acknowledged or not their impact on the punk scene can still be felt today.
One of the bands that Leatherface impacted was Montreal’s The Sainte Catherines. Singer Hugo Mudie would frequently reference the group in interviews and shades of Leatherface can be heard across The Saint Catherines’ catalogue. A few years back Mudie, alongside bandmates Fred Jaques and Julien Blais were approached by Latherface’s Dickie Hammond and Graeme Philliskirk about a potential collaboration. Within months they began to jam, and soon there after Medictation was formed.
Despite spanning two continents and several generations, the band gelled quickly. They created songs with shorthand that comes from years of making music in loud bars and shitty clubs. Medictation had just finished recording their debut album Warm Places when Hammond was hospitalized with an undisclosed illness and passed away shortly thereafter. He was fifty years old.
For this installment of The Greatest Story Ever Told Medictation and Leatherface bassist Graeme Philliskirk speaks about the loss of his friend, and how Warm Places is a testament to his memory.
“When we formed Medictation, there was no specific thing we actually thought about. It wasn’t like we sat and planned anything out. I think the enthusiasm and drive was within every single one of us to make this work, support each other and do our best. I know Dickie and I were really excited to work with the younger guys. We had watched Fred and Hugo dozens of times with The Saint Catherines. We knew just how good they are. After the second incarnation of Leatherface dissolved, I knew I needed to make more music. Medictation was the next logical step."
"Prior to recording the album we had a couple of sessions to iron a few things out. It was done. No Fuss. Relaxed and easy. Everyone was really excited about it. We couldn’t wait to get it out into the world, and had a bunch of plans lined up. It was around that time the Dickie entered the hospital."
"The night it happened, I was watching Hugo’s other project, Powernap. It was their last song and Hugo pulled at something from around his neck and threw it out into the audience."
"I could see his pendant flying through the air. I caught it, looking up, and Hugo made a shape of a cross with his hands. I looked at the pendant and it was a small cross, then Davey Tiltwheel and Siobhan McCollum, who were standing at the front of the stage, both turned around looked at me. I knew by their look in their eyes that it had happened. Dickie, my friend, was gone. Powernap hit their last chord and walked from the stage."
"I’ve thought about that moment a lot. How couldn’t you? It was like a hole was opening up. I actually put this into lyrics in a song I wrote, when I got home. It was the first time I cried, when I recorded and put the idea down. Maybe someday I will put it out."
"Dickie had a strong relationship with alcohol. It was no secret. He has been battling it for some time, we really hoped he could have pulled out of the nosedive but, as you know, he didn’t. But Dickie also had a strong relationship with music, and I think the Medictation record is an excellent testament to that."
"It’s still very strange and raw, on one hand. On the other hand, it has to go ahead and get heard, because that’s what the intention was. It’s why we do it for. Dickie loved how the record turned out. It was his life. The whole record has twists and turns behind it. It was an honor to be a part of it, a memorial to him and his amazing back catalogue of music he created and was involved with."
"We want to promote it the best we can, we hope people like it. We decided we would talk soon about what to do next, but I know we will and want to play some shows. We want to remember our friend and this is the best way we know how.”
[Parts of this response have been reworked for flow and clarity.]