totheteeth/tothehilt was a trio composed of Stefan Duret, Mario Giguere and Kevin Stebner that formed in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. They focused on the unconventional aspects of punk and indie-rock while staying true to the do-it-yourself ethic. They actively played shows and recorded albums from Fall 2001 until Spring 2007. The members went on to form St. Blackbird, Praying Hands, Draft Dodgers, GreyScreen, Secret Fires and Slates.
totheteeth/tothehilt was initially arranged with two electric guitars and a drummer. Notably absent was the rhythm of a bass guitar or the vocal prominence of a lead singer, which were standard among most bands at the time. Many of their live shows were performed instrumentally, and the concerts were small enough for the members to sing over their instruments without vocal microphones and power amplification. They released a cassette tape entitled Sometimes I Wonder what the Real World is Like in 2002. It was limited to 38 copies and was distributed by the band members themselves. 13 of the bands' earliest songs were compiled and recorded from either the band's jam space or live concerts. In 2004, Spell Aviation, Spell Hope was the first professionally-recorded compact disc to be released and many of the songs from the previous cassette were re-recorded to document some of their earlier work. The band realized that some bass guitar work would be necessary to do a studio recording, so they asked Rosaleen Kulba to record some of her bass-lines on a few tracks. This collaboration burgeoned into a longstanding relationship, as Kulba lended her bass and vocal talents on each of the band's subsequent recordings and also appeared a couple of times on stage as an invited guest.. A significant amount of new material was included, and the album was limited to 200 copies.
While remaining true to their roots, totheteeth/tothehilt took up new directions with the release of the Sound Logic EP in 2005. Liz Frost of Exclaim! Magazine claimed the album "has an epic quality to it" and where "each track carries with it a sense of adventure, an ambition that dives into the dramatic and the driven." The band swapped a guitar for a bass and focused more heavily on each of the members' vocal talents and lyrics. The EP received broad distribution as it was picked up by Reluctant Recordings, which was famous for producing the records of many of Western Canada's top independent acts of without the formality of a record contract. In result, James Stewart of Edmonton's See Magazine awarded it the "top local album of 2005."
The fourth and final album released by the band was the 12" vinyl/CD EP combo Headfirst. À pleine tête., which was released once more on Reluctant Recordings. Conceptually, the album explored post-modernist themes of tension, incongruency and meaning. It was the first and only album to feature material in French and it was noticed as far as France by the respected zine Pertes et Fracas. The album's gatefold featured two covers designed by two professional artists: Andrea Zariwny with "Tightened and Released Again" and Roger C. Miller's "11/20/06: 43F," alternately "Headfirst." Roger C. Miller is best known as the guitarist from the legendary Bostonian post-punk band Mission of Burma.
Since their formation in 2001, totheteeth/tothehilt promoted several local all-ages shows in an effort to promote punk rock at the grassroots level. One way to encourage the local youth to participate in the burgeoning local scene was to expose them to like-minded bands that promoted their music through underground networks. Some of these bands include Department of Homeland Security from South Carolina, North of America and the Holy Shroud from Halifax, Buried Inside from Ottawa, Kitchens & Bathrooms from Hamilton, The Frenetics from Montreal, American Geography from Victoria, as well as The Wolfnote, The Vertical Struts and the All Purpose Voltage Heroes from Edmonton. However, when the individual members relocated to other distant Canadian cities, the band was forced to break up. totheteeth/tothehilt made its final tour during the 2006-2007 holiday season, with a special Edmonton farewell on 12 May 2007.
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