The top 5 bands from Tooth and Nail Records

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As it turns out, there’s no right answer when you decide to write a retrospective article on the top five bands from Tooth and Nail Records. Of course, on the other side of the coin, there’s not really a wrong answer, either.

There’s an extremely good chance that if you’re a fan of today’s punk and hardcore scene, you have close ties with a band that was signed to Tooth and Nail Records. If not, it’s a near certainty that some of your favorite bands were heavily influenced by Tooth and Nail bands. The Seattle punk label has churned out more than a few prominent and influential acts over the past two decades and, for much of that time, the label itself was a trailblazer in fostering the sounds that define today’s scene.

If you’re unsure of the label’s credibility or are too young to remember their heyday, consider that we just made a list that excludes the likes of Ghoti Hook, Dogwood, The Juliana Theory, Anberlin, Mae, Squad Five-O, Project 86, As Cities Burn, Stavesacre, Copeland and many others.

It’s perfectly understandable if you disagree with our list. The good news is that the point of this piece is more of a reflection on an influential label that’s turning 20 than a definitive record that we’re stamping in stone. Feel free to share your favorite bands in the replies or share your own list with us. Without further ado, here are our five favorite Tooth and Nail bands of all time.

1. MxPx

There’s really no way around this band not landing in the top spot. Not only are they the label’s first signing, they clearly paved the way for everything that the label was to become and are one of the most important bands in pop-punk history. MxPx is a direct influence to the likes of Yellowcard, Good Charlotte, Relient K and countless other bands that came in their wake.

Whether you’re a fan of the brash and raw Pokinatcha, the seminal Life in General or the polished Secret Weapon, there’s no shortage of styles and sounds to come from the Bremerton, Wa. trio. MxPx not only put Tooth and Nail Records on the map, they shaped the future of the pop-punk genre and released some of the most noteworthy and memorable work this scene has known.

2. Underoath

There’s no denying that some will argue this placing, but consider the impact that Underoath had on the scene in the mid-2000s. The band’s masterpiece, Define the Great Line, not only destroyed the post-hardcore rulebook with its forward-thinking display, but was a commercial success, charting at number two on the Billboard 200 the week of its release.

Underoath managed to grab a stranglehold on the scene spotlight without ever losing their identity or dumbing down their sound. Instead, they forged beyond the typical expectations of the post-hardcore genre with unique recording methods, odd time signatures and an unorthodox use of electronic programming. When considering today’s post-hardcore and metalcore scene, it’s hard to argue Underoath’s impact.

3. Slick Shoes

Slick Shoes never achieved the notoriety of many of their peers, but this was not for lack of talent or gusto. Slick Shoes was the secret you had between your close friends in high school; the cool band that belonged to you. They never seemed to mind. Instead, they churned out a collection of memorable albums, such as Burn Out, Wake Up Screaming and their 2002 self-titled.

Despite their lack of fame, you can bring up the name of the band in just about any punk circle to positive reactions and recollections. In truth, Slick Shoes managed to have just about as much influence on the scene as many of their more well-known peers and did it without the flashing lights and headliner status. Honestly, that’s about as punk as it gets.

4. mewithoutYou

It’s hard to put a label on mewithoutYou’s sound. Not only has the band dabbled in a multitude of genres and sounds, but they’ve done it by adding their unique touch and thoughtfulness to each endeavor. They’re a band fueled by passion and it comes across in everything the band has ever put their hands on. mewithoutYou is the band that this scene needed.

While their debut certainly caught ears, it wasn’t until their follow-up Catch For Us the Foxes that people began to really take notice. Indeed, the band would expand their repertoire with each subsequent release, building on their quirky post-hardcore sound, laced with artful imagery and the poetic lyrics of Aaron Weiss. mewithoutYou never fit a particular mold and certainly didn’t follow the beaten path, and we’re all the better for it.

5. Strongarm/Further Seems Forever

Yes, this is clearly a cop-out. However, when four members of an influential hardcore band go on to form an equally influential emo/indie rock band, it’s worth noting. In fact, Further Seems Forever held a place at many a hardcore festival simply based on the fact that the members were deeply rooted in that community. That being said, the addition of Chris Carrabba at vocalist was obviously a game changer that pushed Further Seems Forever over the top.

Even after the band made its mark on the scene with Carrabba behind the mic, the band managed to remain solid and relevant with two other lead singers (Jason Gleason, Jon Bunch) over their next two albums. Behind both bands lies the heart of its original members and their ability to craft music across different genres while maintaining credibility and focus. Because of this, you can’t really mention Further Seems Forever without Strongarm.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Comments

  1. Kiel, you raise excellent points and I applaud that you included Slick Shoes. However, I must retort with my main thought. Strong Arm/FSF before Squad Five-O? Have you never been to a live show?

  2. I love Squad Five-O. I think the best reason I can give for the inclusion of Strongarm/FSF is that both of those bands are deeply connected with the beginnings of the label and are more closely associated than Squad, who only released two albums on T&N. But again, when making a list such as this, you’re bound to cut out some amazing bands when limiting the number to five. Thanks for reading the article!

    -Kiel

  3. How can you bring up Tooth & Nail and NOT talk about The O. C. Supertones? I know that only their first album was technically on T&N while the rest were on BEC but come on! They were a groundbreaking band! That one album DEFINITELY played a role in getting T&N off the ground in the early years.

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