Throwback Feature: The Beginning of Dine Alone
FRESH OUT OF COLLEGE
I had been working in record stores for a while now and knew my path would be in music. To what extent – I had no clue, as there wasn’t necessarily a glowing path being from St. Catharines. From my days at Sam The Record Man I had met many great people who worked in the music industry in Toronto and were for the most part, very nice. One gentleman in particular, Andrew Lindsay, got along with me quite well. He invited me to a few events in Toronto and seemed to like how I carried myself and my over all sense of humour. This relationship spawned into an interview at Polygram Records in Toronto, where I landed my first behind the scenes gig.
I was a CSR, which meant Customer Service Rep. The job required me to cruise the QEW and pop into all the record stores and check stock, make displays, do lunches, talk music and organize release parties. It was an interesting gig with little direction but I enjoyed it, I had trunk full of music promo and no one in my ear telling me what to do. There were some artists you liked more than others but none of them fell into where my heart was at the time, it was just fun and new. It wasn’t until in 1998 when Deftones announced a show in Toronto with a reformed Quicksand and Snapcase. I was working at Polygram and one of my favourite bands who was signed to Polygram would play with two other of my favourite bands. My young self is thinking, “I am going to meet them, become friends with them and talk about stuff that is new to me and probably boring to them.”
The show arrived, and it was there I forged a new relationship with Greg Below, who I went on to promote shows across Canada with, as well as work on Distort and Alexisonfire together and form Dine Alone with him by my side. I had the best time in the Quicksand pit, but as fun as the night was, I unfortunately did not make new friends with any of my favourite bands. It was that night, however, that my brain started triggering new ideas and wanting more out of what I was doing.
Shortly after that I would travel the QEW doing my thing and eating breakfast, lunch and dinner often alone and listening to Quicksand and those bands on my Discman. I remember sitting in a packed food court in Mississauga listening to their track “Dine Alone” plotting my next few moves. That song took on a new life for me. There is this line in the first verse that hit me; “Alone, what are your aims, or do you have any?” Here I am with a new found drive after being at the show, meeting a few people and sitting alone plotting what was next to come. That band, that line, at that moment was truly serendipitous.
From that point on, ‘Dine Alone’ was going to be a name of something I started in the future. Did I know it would be a record label at that time? I don’t think so. I knew I wanted to be involved in one but Polygram was not for me. ‘Dine Alone‘ meant a lot to me and knew that it needed to be the name of something I worked on.
BEGINNING OF DINE ALONE
I had been building a bit of a business plan and toying around with the idea of starting a label for several months before this. (Well, several years as it was a long time dream of mine… but the reality of it was several months before this day.) At the time I had a large and influential cultural website, was managing several bands, working at a record store, DJ’ing a club, running a festival, and promoting shows across Canada. I was doing whatever I could to be involved in music on any level.
This specific day, Eagles of Death Metal were playing in Cleveland. A couple friends had planned to go for my birthday and I think I got in some kind of mood and was stressed out and was attempting to pull the chute. I was talking to Jesse Hughes of EODM at the time and he guestlisted me with who ever I wanted to bring along. I was trying to work with them on some level at the time. At the last minute a few friends called me out on my mood and so we drove to Cleveland. It turned into a perfect and memorable night. My friend Brent Jackson was with me and for some reason we spoke in some kind of Brooklyn accent the whole way up and I am sure it annoyed everyone else but we couldn’t get enough. We arrived in Cleveland and immediately did a couple of birthday shots and grabbed a tall can.
The first band was about to get on stage and as soon as I saw who the singer was, I froze and lost my mind. It was Walter Schreifels of Quicksand playing with his new band right in front of me. I could not have been more excited and thrilled to see one of my favourite songwriters playing in a new band on my birthday. I went over to the merch booth and asked the merch guy a few questions. It was a small show, so imagining meeting Walter and telling him everything I was doing with my musical career and how his music has been a soundtrack and influence for most of it, seemed like a reality. However, I saw him a couple times and fully blew it, as I was too nervous. The night continued, the drinks flowed and Eagles of Death Metal killed it. Jesse and the band brought me on stage and got a bunch of girls on stage and sang me happy birthday. It was really sweet and kind of awesome.
Fast forward to the end of the night and we are all near Jesse’s van out front talking about his new record and hearing sneak peeks. He grabs my jean jacket and writes “Rock-N-Rolla” in permanent marker on my jacket. A jacket of which I still wear and have to explain this story every time. As we are hanging out and talking shop, Tricia Ricciuto, Brett Jackson, Jennifer Anderson (friends we went with) come out with Walter to meet me. I get right into it telling him a Coles Notes of my timeline, and then ask him if he would mind if I called the record label I am starting next year ‘Dine Alone‘ (the other working title was El Camino Records, but I kicked it to the curb with Walter standing right in front of me).
He was flattered and loved it and then I offered to fly him to Toronto to see a few Alexisonfire shows, as they were influenced by him, and were doing really well at the time. I wanted him to see that his music made a huge impact on a lot of people – my way of giving back. Walter agreed and from there we became pals, and I now have a record label called Dine Alone, which has released his solo music, and best of all, re-released the Quicksand album with the track “Dine Alone” on vinyl.
– Joel Carriere
President, Dine Alone Records