For over twenty years, Tooth and Nail Records has been a staple in the Christian rock scene. To date, the label and its subsidiaries have signed over 275 artists, released over 600 albums, and sold over 20 million records. But, long before all of this massive success, Tooth and Nail experienced a humble and rocky beginning. The documentary, No New Kinda Story, skillfully portrays the meteroric rise, the controversies, and the joyous moments during the birth of this indie label.
The film opens with the childhood of President and Label Founder, Brandon Ebel. He personally shares about fights at school, relationships with his family, college dreams, and even his learning disabilities. This short, opening glimpse into the mind of Ebel serves to be a great starting point for the musical genius that is to come.
When Ebel finally decides to follow his dream of starting his own record company, everyone initially thinks he is crazy. A bank manager even laughs at him. In the end, the only person that believes in Ebel is his grandfather, who actually fronts him $60,000. The early minutes of the film powerfully illustrate the relationship between Ebel and his grandfather. The love, emotions, and tears can certainly be felt by the viewer and fan.
After this brief introduction into Ebel’s life, the rest of the documentary solely focuses on the early releases of the label. Fans of 90s Christian rock can easily remember the greatness of Tooth and Nail’s earliest acts. From the hard hitting Wish for Eden debut to the monster hits of MXPX, Tooth and Nail was very selective but wise in signing these talented groups. Even greater, No New Kinda Story also focuses a portion of time on some of the smaller signings, such as Plankeye, The Blamed, and Starflyer 59.
However, with every success story, there were still some losses to be felt. Early on in Tooth and Nail’s history, the label was struggling and quickly sinking. With massive legal battles between lawyers and MXPX, time and money were running short. The documentary concludes by highlighting the popularity of the OC Supertones, and how their sudden fame kept the label afloat.
From start to finish, the true beauty of this movie is how it expertly weaves together information and entertainment. No New Kinda Story is a gold mine of fascinating Christian rock trivia and nuggets of knowledge. From the early life of Brandon Ebel to playing live shows in a house to the massive MXPX record, Life in General, this documentary bares all in discussing the roots and history of the label.
Sprinkled in between this wealth of information are intimate interviews with band members and Tooth and Nail staff. The documentary also includes old footage of packed 90s concerts, vintage music videos, and promotional photo shoots. You literally see, firsthand, the humble and crazy stories of these artists.
Ultimately, No New Kinda Story is a fascinating journey into the life and head of Brandon Ebel. This hour long film will move your emotions and have you nostalgically rocking out to bands of the past. Truly, Ebel is to be commended for how he transformed a few obscure bands and catapulted them into the national spotlight. If nothing else, we all have Ebel’s grandfather to thank for believing in a young college kid, who had a huge dream of changing Christian rock forever.
4 ½ Stars