Meet Scott Carle: The rock star manning the counter at Bseisu Coffee Bar

<p>Scott surrounded by his drum kits.</p>

Scott surrounded by his drum kits.

Ever met a rock star?

You may have without even realizing it. The man behind the counter at Bseisu Coffee Bar in the Wilkinson Building is none other than Scott Carle: drummer of indie rock band Dillon Fence.

Scott reflected in his La Marzocco Group 3 machine

A native of Durham, Carle spent 13 years with the band, touring the U.S. and Europe, releasing three studio albums and opening for rock bands such as The Black Crowes and Hootie and the Blowfish. Dillon Fence and its members maintain a loyal following in the Carolinas.

Carle has been at Duke since 2008, working at Bella Union before Bseisu opened in September 2021. Although Dillon Fence has broken up since, Carle occasionally performs with his former bandmates and plays their music at Bseisu. He is currently a member of five bands, including ones with other Duke students. One of his bands, JFK Jr., recently performed at Engineering Student Government’s E-Picnic. 

The creation of a rock star

Born in High Point and raised in Durham, Carle’s interest in music began in the first grade. He started playing drums at 15, teaching himself before taking lessons and joining his first band, Oasis, in high school.

The 1970s were a turning point for Carle. Musicians ranging from Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie to Queen and The Who captivated his mind. 

“The concerts that were coming through the Greensboro Coliseum at the time were epic,” Carle said. “I still have the flyers from the radio station.”

The cafe is filled with bright artwork. The film poster is from the film 'Clay Pigeons', a 1998 dark comedy whose title track is a song by Scott's band Collapsis. 

Carle began a career in engineering, working in the semiconductor industry after graduating from college. However, the call of music proved too strong for him.

Carle joined Dillon Fence after stints in two other bands when the band was “three UNC students and one Wake [Forest] student,” he said. “... Then we got signed to Mammoth Records, and that’s when everything changed.”

He quit his job to focus on Dillon Fence’s first studio album.

“Once that record was released, we had to hit the road. We played regionally, nationally, and eventually, internationally,” Carle said. The band toured the US and Europe, sometimes to open for other rock bands. According to Carle, Dillon Fence’s fan base expanded from college students to “all kinds of people,” recalling how some fans would follow the band on tour. 

After his touring career ended in 2003, Carle worked professionally with other bands until 2008. He works semi-professionally with multiple bands, continuing work with Dillon Fence and another former band, Collapsis. He enjoys playing for fun instead of being a full-time musician now, noting that musicians on tour often miss chances to spend time with loved ones or rest.

Dillon Fence will record a live album at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh this summer. According to Carle, the band is also “thinking about” a new studio album.

An unmistakable campus presence

Bseisu is unique among Duke’s coffee locations. The coffee shop features posters, photographs and other memorabilia of Dillon Fence and other indie rock bands. Carle spends much of his time interacting with students who frequent the bar and playing their music recommendations along with his personal favorites.  

“What I really love is meeting you guys,” Carle said of his job at Bseisu. “New people and old friends and just making people happy with coffee and lattes … that’s what kind of gets me up in the morning.”

A feedback sheet at Bseisu noted praise for Carle, pointing out the “amazing community” he has created, his “legendary music taste,” the conversations people have had with him and his staff and his “immaculate vibes.”

Konrad Slaman, Trinity ‘23 and a current master’s student, said Carle “opened up a whole new world” for him after they had met before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was incredible,” he said. "He provided a place for me to rant about things in my life, he provided me a place to feel comfort.”

Slaman now works part-time at Bseisu and brings food on Fridays for Carle and regular customers. Slaman picked up the tradition from Carle after he began working at Bseisu. 

“There's no difference between being a co-worker with Scott and being a friend of Scott’s. I think everyone feels like they're part of a big family,” said Slaman, who described how Carle introduced him to the local music scene and became his close friend and confidant.

Morning. Scott and a student barista are readying Bseisu Coffee Bar for a busy day.

Many faculty, staff and students stop by Bseisu — some daily — for a coffee, which sometimes comes with a friendly conversation.

“Scott really cares about the customers and their stories and how their days are going, which I think just adds to the experience [of getting Coffee at Bseisu],” said junior Laney Chang, who also works at Bseisu and was introduced to Carle by a mutual friend.

Carter Boyle, Trinity ‘11 and Fuqua ‘15, reminisced about his memories of Carle’s friendship as an undergraduate.

“He’s kind of like Bruce Springsteen,” he said.

Boyle first met Carle at Bella Union as a sophomore. Like many of Carle’s other friends, their relationship began after they had multiple conversations. In Boyle’s case, it was their mutual ties to New England that sparked their relationship. 

Calling Carle “the man,” Boyle compared Carle’s authenticity, energy and humility to Springsteen and John Keating in the “Dead Poets Society” film. 

“You'd be amazed at how many cities or towns … you go into with Scott and someone there knows him, or you go to a concert with him and the manager for some big band or their sound guy knows them because they used to tour together or something,” Boyle said. He praised Carle’s ability to connect him and his friends with the local cultural scene and help them have fun during their college years. 

Boyle remembers how Carle surprised him and his friends by bringing them food in the early morning when the group was tenting for a basketball game against Clemson. The night before, Carle had said he would do so despite staying up late with Boyle and his friends.

The two have remained close since Boyle graduated from Duke. Scott delivered a speech at Boyle’s wedding rehearsal dinner, hosted a bachelor party for Boyle and drove for over nine hours overnight to comfort him after Boyle’s mother passed away in 2018. 

“He’s one of my favorite people on Earth,” Boyle said.

Samanyu Gangappa | Local/National News Editor

Samanyu Gangappa is a Trinity first-year and local/national news editor for the news department.       


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