Fans of a certain age in the Greater Toronto Area, and perhaps other parts of Canada, will have certain memories and nostalgia when I mention this band: Serial Joe.
The band received the reaction that a lot of young, teenage male rock bands that rise to prominence typically receive – girls loved them, some guys cautiously liked them, and most guys loved to bash them. Although they initially tried the hard rock-rap angle, what ultimately found them some years of success in the late 1990s in Canada were poppy rock songs.
This piece is about the rise and fall of Serial Joe, my connection and experiences with the band, and what singer Ryan Dennis is up to now.
Ryan Dennis was first seen by the music world as an actor in the Our Lady Peace video for Superman’s Dead. Since Serial Joe and Dennis weren’t known, no one thought much of this at the time, and were floored once the revelation came out years later. This was especially true when it was discovered that he played both a boy AND a girl in the video.
Like Australian band Silverchair before them, Serial Joe were a band of young teenagers trying to capitalize on the post-grudge void filled by Kurt Cobain’s death. The band launched the video for their track Skid Row, a song that was sort of Rage Against The Machine lite. The video won the 1998 Much Music Video award for best independent video, an award that would also be awarded to Alexisonfire, Cancer Bats, and Metric in the future.
The band then released a follow up album containing tunes of a more mainstream, female-attracting type. The track that got repeatedly played on Much Music was Mistake, with a catchy pop chorus that helped them get some attention in the United States. This video earned them a nomination for the 1999 Much Music Video Award for Best Rock Video, losing out to former I Mother Earth singer (and Tattoo Rock Parlour bartender) Edwin.