I stood in front of the home of Ryan Dennis (Serial Joe’s front man). At this point, I wasn’t sure whether to expect down to earth 16 year olds – or complete egomaniacs.
Sure, I had heard a lot about Serial Joe. As winners of the Best Independent Video at the 1998 Much Music Awards (for their independent release ‘Skidrow’), winners of the 1999 YTV Achievement Award for best band and performers at Woodstock and Edgefest – it would be nearly impossible to miss hearing about them. Not only that, but with a Juno nomination for Best New Group and a new VH1 movie, “Out of Sync”, the band is clearly moving on up.
A van pulled into the driveway and out came Debbie Dennis, (Ryan’s mother and manager to the band), bassist Jon Davidson and guitarist Ryan Steever (a.k.a. “Stever”, to distinguish between the two Ryans in the group). We were led into the house where drummer Dan Stadnicki was tinkering with a guitar and Ryan Dennis was experimenting with music on his computer.
Maya (far right) grills the band in their home
Serial Joe has come a long way from the release of their first independent album, Kicked. The follow-up CD, Face Down, achieved gold status. With a well meshed palette of cutting edge rock sounds, and hits like ‘Deep’ and ‘Mistake’ – Serial Joe are preparing to hit the US markets, to test out the southern waters and make a big splash. Having overcome initial skepticism, Serial Joe have found their spot in the CD players of teens.
With their new album, Dot, Dot, Dot, and another Edgefest show completed, these road warriors will be ready for anything.
“I’ve always gone to Edgefest – and to be playing it is cool…we started on the side stage and now we’re on the main stage,” grins Ryan. With fond memories of Edgefest last year, the guys reminisced – retelling how they washed their hair out the window of the tour bus and in the middle of the street.
Dan ready to hit Ryan in the head with a bottlecap
The band, having released a new album this summer will also do some touring across Canada.
“We’ve got some heavier songs, and some lighter, upbeat songs,” Ryan explains.
“Yeah – it helps to keep the listener interested,” chimes in Dan.
Having evolved as performers, the guys are not as freaked out with stage presentation and are coming out of their shells – helped by practicing at least twice a week and their love of performing live. One thing that makes Serial Joe unique is the fact that they write their own music – and obviously play it too (which is a nice change from the sometimes over-the-top pop invasion).
Citing influences such as Rage Against the Machine and Silverchair, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that those who lump Serial Joe with the bubble gum pop artists actually haven’t listened to the CD. Their album packs driving bass parts, out of this world guitars, intense drums and powerful vocals – combining them with great lyrics and displaying unparalleled style. The album speaks for itself.
Lead vocalist and guitarist, Ryan Dennis
With legions of fans and loads of websites dedicated to them, the band is grateful for the support, although they are amazed that some fans hitch hike to see them almost anywhere. However, they’ve had their share of experiences with “fake” people.
They have developed their ‘radar’
“I can tell in 5 seconds that they’re just using me,” exclaims Stever of the fake people that try to suck up to him.
“Yeah, if people come up to me and start screamin’ at my face…,” starts Ryan, “it’s like – get lost”
Stever adds. “It centers me out and makes me feel uncomfortable,” Ryan says. “The girls are the ones that scream, the guys are like…hey how’s it going,” Dan adds.
The guys seem to get along great, however, with such a successful band, it would be far from ordinary to be conflict-free. “Normally it ends with bloodshed,” jokes Ryan, “…but there’s never anything too serious.” “Disputes for us are more like ‘did you steal my Pepsi – don’t touch my Pepsi’, stupid stuff,” Dan laughs.
The band and their copy of Faze Mag
As we discussed technology and the changes it brings to the music industry, I conclude that these guys are the real deal. It felt like I was literally sitting there and talking to my friends. With such grounded attitudes, Serial Joe seems ready for anything.
As far as the future…the guys are intent on sticking with the music industry, so touring and promoting the new album are on their agenda.
We wish them luck!
Drummer Dan Stadnicki
“Stever”–SJ’s Lead Guitarist