ROCK LABEL OF THE WEEK: Dine Alone Records

Dine Alone Records

Rock Label of the Week is focused on highlighting some of the biggest – or most obscure- labels that you may – or may not – have ever heard of.

  • Name Of Label: Dine Alone Records
  • Founded: 2005.
  • Location: Toronto, Canada.
  • Label Type: Independent.
  • Distributors: Fontana North
  • Genre of Focus: Everything from Indie Rock-Hardcore.
  • Current Roster: At The Drive-In, City And Colour, Jimmy Eat World, Kate Nash, The Jezabels, The Lumineers, We Are Scientists, Yukon Blonde.
  • Inactive Roster: Alexisonfire, Attack In Black, Children Collide, Hot Hot Heat, Deer Tick, Johnny Truant, Songs From A Room, The End.
  • Website: http://www.dinealonerecords.com

Dine Alone Records all began with Joel Carriere in 2005. Carriere, one of the more ambitious dudes in the industry, was managing Canadian hardcore band Alexisonfire under Bedlam Music Management when the realization hit that the management company could also take care of label duties. Dallas Green (City and Colour, formerly of Alexisonfire) was looking to release some of his solo work, and Carriere took initiative, creating Dine Alone Records and releasing cd’s. The first release would be Dallas Green’s album Sometimes with the moniker City And Colour.

The fact of the matter: Carriere is a man of music. Having been a child in the hardcore music scene, he knew at an early age he wanted to work in music. Before Bedlam Music Management, he worked for PolyGram, and after leaving there founded Bedlam Society, a website dedicated to music exposure in Canada. This is where he would meet lots of bands, including Alexisonfire (arguably one of their biggest successes on the label). Alexisonfire would go on to release 5 successful studio albums before their separation in 2011, leaving their legacy on the label. Alexisonfire (and Dallas Green) would give Bedlam Music the push into the creation of Dine Alone Records.

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Alexisonfire.

Because Bedlam Music Management was already established at the inception of Dine Alone Records, Carriere was able to utilize his contacts to build his roster for the label. Bands that were already signed to Bedlam Music Society were being signed to the new label, giving Dine Alone creative and financial control over the artists (this also meant less interference with other labels). But when it comes to A&R, Carriere explains what’s important when signing a band:

“On the label side, it’s obviously all about the music and that’s something my employees have to love. There have definitely been times where not all of them are feeling a certain artist, and I don’t think it would be fair for me to sign a band that I just love. If they don’t like the bands they work with on a day-to-day basis, then it will seem like I’m putting them into that major label kind of world. I don’t want them to have to work on stuff they don’t like, at least not at this point.” [Blare Magazine Interview]

However, Carriere makes a point to acknowledge that you cannot sign everyone you like:

“There’s always that art-versus-commerce thing you have to play with and being such a big music fan it’s tough. I sign everything because I’m a huge fan of it, I can’t sign everything I’d like to sign because I’d go bankrupt.” [City News Interview] 

Dine Alone has gone on to sign some big, yet diverse, acts. While Alexisonfire was a strictly hardcore act, Dine Alone also signed Jimmy Eat World under the same merit (considered to be more on the rock/alt rock genre). Then there are the super successes, like the Lumineers, who are signed to the label. The folk group has released one self-titled album, which has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and two Billboard awards. Their single, “Ho Hey” would reach platinum in the United States, and is featured in numerous television series.

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The Lumineers.

With the success of Dine Alone, Carriere created a new label this year called New Damage Records (named after a song by Soundgarden). The new label focuses on music in the hardcore/metal realm, with their roster boasting the likes of Architects, Cunter, Hawk Eyes, and Misery Signals. Due to this roster and Carriere’s legacy, the label has gotten the attention of others in the industry, and the outlook for the future of the label is positive. In a statement about the inception of New Damage, Carriere shares his positive outlook:

“Come watch us succeed or fail at building a new brand from the ground up. One thing is we are going to have a ton of fun doing it.” [Sonic More Music] 

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New Damage Records Logo.

Further, what better venture to get into than food? Dine Alone Records has gone on to create a food line too, called Dine Alone Foods. Run by Carriere and Jordan Hastings from Alexisonfire, the food line is made up of sauces, from hot sauce to BBQ. In conjunction with the food line, Dine Alone Records created a game titled Dine Alone Iphone Game in which you fatten up your avatar in order to get access to downloads from City and Colour and Yukon Blonde. On why the conjunction seemed right, as explained by John Higney:

“MuchMusic, MTV, they realized 20 years ago that what they’re involved in is lifestyle marketing, So many people that are into indie music are into food. It becomes one of these ancillary lifestyle things that go along with indie music—like craft beers.” [Canada Interview]

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Dine Alone Iphone Game.

In all, the ventures all add up, and Dine Alone Records has blossomed into one of the youngest success stories in the record label industry. Carriere has his head on straight, and in an end to the article (and my time in artist management class!) Carriere explains the recipe for success:

“I think every company has a different recipe that works for them. Our recipe has always to learn from our mistakes and grow as a company each year. We started with one artist and two staff members and did a great job and continued to develop from there. Every time we saw an honest opportunity to further our collective careers, we went for it. I think we are pretty fearless, ethical and honest. We are a group of people who are massive music nerds and get to live out our dream job, but we’re also aware of the business side of it all – making sure we notice which musicians are actually focused on music and are willing to put their head down, hustle and work really hard. Not taking any of this for granted is very key. The quick ego inflation in this industry is something we see and we don’t want to be a part of. Some bands or peers like how we roll and some don’t.” [Blare Magazine Interview]

 

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ROCK LABEL OF THE WEEK: Wichita Recordings

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Rock Label of the Week is focused on highlighting some of the biggest – or most obscure- labels that you may – or may not – have ever heard of.

  • Name Of Label: Wichita Recordings
  • Founded: 2000
  • Location: London, United Kingdom
  • Label Type: Independent
  • Distributors: V2/Cooperative Music
  • Genre of Focus: Indie Rock/Post-Punk
  • Current Roster: Best Coast, The Dodos, First Aid Kit, Conor Oberst, Bloc Party, Wild Flag, The Cribs.
  • Inactive Roster: Peter Bjorn and John, The Blood Brothers, Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket, Northern State, Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
  • Website: http://www.wichita-recordings.com/

Wichita Recordings was founded in 2000 by friends Mark Bowen and Dick Green. Originally, the duo had both met while they were both working for Creation Recordings in London (Creation’s roster included Oasis, My Bloody Valentine, and The Jesus and Mary Train). When Creation dissolved in 1999, that became the beginning to Wichita, and in an interview with Bowen, he discusses the moment when Creation owner Alan McGee approached him about the idea of starting his own label:

 “When Alan and Dick stopped doing Creation, Alan took me to one side and told me to do my own label. I had never had any intentions of doing it, I was only thirty and thought I was too young. But a couple of weeks later me and Dick sat down for a drink and he said he wanted to do a label but he wasn’t ready to do one on the scale of Creation by the end. He wanted to do something which only involved us, something smaller but we would be really into. He wanted to build something slowly, and not be in any rush. So I thought, that sounds more like it, more my kind of scene! Starting a record company to sell a million records sounded like hard work, this sounded more like a sensible way to find my way back into life after Creation ended.” [Clash Music Interview] 

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Where it all began.

The first album to release under Wichita would be one to envy; Bright Eyes album Fevers and Mirrors. The story goes that Bowen stumbled upon Bright Eye’s music on the Saddle Creek website, and was compelled to buy an EP and check it out. Bowen was impressed, and the Bright Eyes were signed. However, Wichita Recordings had been under the impression that the band was already a huge success in the USA, when the band, in actuality, had only sold around 900 copies of their music. Apparently, they signed the band for a pretty good sum, but as it’s known, Bright Eyes would make that money back, becoming one of the bigger indie darlings of the decade. Today, Wichita Recordings still works with Conor Oberst (lead singer of Bright Eyes) in producing and distributing his solo music.

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Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes.

A few years down the line, Wichita had gone through some bouts of upset. Two of their biggest acts, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and My Morning Jacket had moved to major labels after blooming success under Wichita. However, the guys at Wichita would accidently stumble upon a band that would change it all for the label. That band is Bloc Party:

“It was the Saturday before Christmas and I was meant to be home in Wales, but I missed my train and thought I’d wait and see this band. Went to the ICA and it was completely empty. I fell in love with them. It was really odd – my touchstones were The Smiths and for Dick it was New Order, and Bloc Party seemed to sound like both. Kele struck me as a Morrissey heir; his words were fantastic. He was a reticent star, but magnetic nonetheless.” [Time Out Bahrain Interview] 

Bloc Party would be asked to sign to Wichita Recordings, and their album, Silent Alarm, became a huge success for the band and the label. Silent Alarm (features songs Banquet, Helicopter, and So Here We Are) would sell approx. 61,000 albums in its first week in the UK, and in the USA the album reached #7 on Billboard Top Independent Albums in 2005. The album would eventually go to sell over a million copies, and Silent Alarm was certified platinum.

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First Aid Kit doing Karaoke.

It is typical for labels to be caught in controversy (Victory Records, Rise Records), but Wichita has seemingly avoided any problems within the label. The label’s focus: “no wankers”. Wichita has remained very focused on the quality of the bands they sign, and has refused the idea of selling out. Bowen highlights this in our close to this weeks Rock Label of the Week:

“To this day we look for something different, and if you look back over the ten years most of the records still stand up. Most of the bands still have careers. Starting with Bright Eyes and Conor Oberst, I mean they’re still going ten years later and probably will be making music in another ten years. But that was always the case at Creation – look at Teenage Fanclub, Primal Scream. That was the culture I was introduced into, that they could break through with their fourth record. If you look for the next big thing it becomes quite ephemeral.” [Clash Music Interview]

! On a side-note, did you know Wichita was responsible for the “whistling song that conquered the world?!

 

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ROCK LABEL OF THE WEEK: Basick Records*

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Rock Label of the Week is focused on highlighting some of the biggest – or most obscure- labels that you may – or may not – have ever heard of.

  • Name Of Label: Basick Records
  • Founded: 2005.
  • Location: London, UK.
  • Label Type: Independent.
  • Distributors: Prosthetic/RED Distribution/Warner
  • Genre of Focus: Progressive Metal
  • Current Roster: 7 Horns 7 Eyes, Alaya, Chimp Spanner, Glass Cloud, Misery Signals, The Algorithm.
  • Inactive Roster: Between The Screams, Fellsilent, Monuments, Shy Of The Depth, The Escape, Visions.
  • Website: http://www.basickrecords.com/

In Rock Label’s first trip overseas, we will be taking a look at Basick Records. Still young to the label world, Basick was founded in 2005 by brothers Nathan Barley Phillips and Jake Smith. When it came to Basick, neither of the brothers had any extensive backgrounds in working in the music industry. Nathan had worked at AiRecords (electronica label) for three years before co-founding Basick, but the brothers relied on doing tons of research on the biz before Basick was created. The first album the label ever produced was titled “Do You Feel This?” featuring a compilation of bands (some of them who would eventually sign with the label). Shortly after the release of the compilation, Basick would sign their first band, Fellsilent (the band broke up in 2010) and also be the first label to release material from the band Enter Shikari.

One thing that Basick has prided itself on is the fact that they focus on progressive metal as a genre. Standard metal is too boring, but they won’t necessarily avoid any band that proves themselves talented and worthy. While this niche has sometimes proved to limit the labels opportunities (in 2010 Mammouthfest, three of Basick’s bands were pulled from the lineup unceremoniously), it has found its successes in focusing on a genre the crew at Basick really loves. Nathan describes their choice to focus on progressive metal in an interview with One Metal:

“I think its borne from a necessity to stand out from the pack. Also, from a musical perspective, I wanted to make sure that we were not only working with credible music, but music that would actually take things forward. There are hundreds of other labels that are all working with mainstream rock and metal and no doubt they’re shifting more units than BASICK. And that’s fine, fair play to them, that’s their prerogative. But that’s not what BASICK is about. We’re committed to working with a broad range of music, but it must be intelligent and forward thinking.” [One Metal]

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The Algorithm Nomination for the Golden Gods Award.

While the label is only eight years old, the plan is to expand within the next few years into North America, Asia and Australia. Having made progress in the UK/European markets, it seemed like a natural “next step” for the guys at Basick. One step taken in that direction is when Basick a partnership with distribution company Prosthetic Records in 2012. Prosthetic is located in the United States, and through the partnership a selection of Basick’s back stocked catalog and all future releases would be distributed in the United States thanks to Prosthetic. That same year, Basick would also sign into a deal with Warner ADA. This deal would mean that all future releases from Basick would be distributed globally based on different markets around the world.

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Demo from Alaya

An advantage Basick has over so many other labels worldwide is that because they were created in 2005, they came about within the new age of cyber piracy. This meant that instead of having to adapt to piracy, the label developed itself with piracy in mind from day one. In another interview with Nathan, he explains how the label has worked through this issue, turning it into part of the business model of the label:

“We’ve had to deal with all this current shit like torrents and downloads etc pretty much from day one, so we’ve factored it in to our business plans. Labels that have been going for 25+ years are generally now having to downsize, which is a shitter. But that’s the world we live in. We’re never going to stop it, so all we can do is work with it as best we can and rely on the great relationships and morals of the listeners and community we’ve been building over the years. I think most open minded people know that for true talent to create music, there’s a cost involved. For that talent to then go on creating more music for you to enjoy, also bears a cost. For instance, I get sent records all week long, but that didn’t stop me spending 8 dollars on the new Cloudkicker album this week.” [Got Djent]

Now, the other labels I have reviewed on this blog are older, have crazy stories, and have internationally known acts listed for them. I am here to tell you to give Basick a look. From day one, their eyes have always been on social media, coming from a generation where social media is pivitol to the progression of your label and the music coming from it. On social media:

“It’s played a massive role. I would say that 65% or more of our current marketing strategy now consist of maximizing the benefits of all of the aforementioned services. One of the major factors which gave us the green light when starting the label, was the emergence of sites like PureVolume and MySpace. We could see how things were going to unfold and knew even then that they would play a crucial role in the development of the label.” [One Metal]

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Basick Merch Store Offers

You can find them on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, etc. Especially worth checking out is that Tumblr page, where they are constantly having sales and deals on music and merch (they run their own merch store, no big). So here’s your chance! Check out the current roster sampler and go find your new love of progressive metal!

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*Special shout out to Jad El Alam for his recommendation of this record label! You can check out one of his blog posts here!