The Starting Line is an American pop punk band based from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania that formed in 1999.
In 1999, the band that would become The Starting Line was initiated in Churchville, Pennsylvania via an e-mail from guitarist Matt Watts to vocalist/bassist Kenny Vasoli. It asked if the then fourteen-year-old Vasoli, who was at that time in a band called Smash Adams, was interested in "Jamming and shit", as the message title read. Only a few weeks later, Vasoli found himself rehearsing with his future bandmates Watts, guitarist Mike Golla and drummer Tom Gryskewicz. Soon, the band started touring under the name Sunday Drive, selling out home-made merchandise and a self-recorded demo cassette titled Four Songs. Their first official release was a three-way split with The Jimmy Tuesday Band and The Commercials contributing three songs each, released on KickStart Audio in 2000.
Sunday Drive was soon approached by We the People Records and asked to produce a recording session (the infamous We the People Records Sessions). Set for a release in December 2000, the twelve songs were initially planned to become the band's debut full-length With Hopes of Starting Over on We the People Records, but they ended up serving only as demos for tracks on future releases, as the band signed with Drive-Thru Records in April 2001. On Drive-Thru, they soon released their debut EP With Hopes of Starting Over. They later found out, the name Sunday Drive was already taken by a Christian rock band, so they changed their band name to The Starting Line. The band has said there is no significance behind the name, it was the only name they all could agree upon.
On July 16, 2002, almost exactly one year after the release of their EP, the full-length Say It Like You Mean It followed. The songs ranged from energetic and fast-paced to melancholy and calm, dealing with performing on stage ("Given the Chance"), feeling homesick ("Left Coast Envy") and getting even with Vasoli's ex-girlfriend Karina ("Up & Go", "Hello Houston", among others). The hit single "Best of Me" and its two music videos, as well as the second single "Leaving", received heavy radio and TV airplay, securing The Starting Line a spot on the Warped Tour. A clip of "Up & Go" was played during an episode of the short-lived television series from Fox, John Doe. The episode aired December 13th 2002, and was entitled 'The Mourner.'
Due to their desire to put out new material, the band decided to release an all-unplugged EP, recorded in three sessions over the following year. The first three songs (recorded in The Prize Fight's Bob Jones' bedroom in August 2002), the second session (recorded in Vasoli's basement in March 2003) and the last track (recorded on the band's touring bus in April 2003) became The Make Yourself at Home EP, released on November 25, 2003. The CD and the DVD version issued simultaneously, featuring an acoustic set performed live at Skate & Surf 2003 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, would be their last releases put out solely on Drive-Thru Records, as The Starting Line was signed by Geffen Records soon afterwards.
Their major label debut, Based on a True Story, came out in May 2005. Lyrically, the band dissociated themselves from the post-relationship formula that was predominant on their previous records. The otherwise very positive and cheerful album was overshadowed by several rather angry songs, written to spite the band's record label. Songs like "Inspired by the $" featured lyrics that are unmistakably directed at Geffen: "Get to the point/Get it across/To the boys at the top of the ladder I'm climbing up/I have my doubts". Another section of the song refers to a meeting the band had with the label's executives, where The Starting Line was asked to write more radio-friendly songs in the vein of New Found Glory's Catalyst (2004) and recreate "Best of Me" ("Just stay the same way/Do it like you did it before/Remain the same shape", followed by "If I did it again, then Lord stop me, then/God help me now, Lord help me out"). The album was far more successful than the band's 2002 effort and sold 42,000 copies within its first week, as opposed to its predecessor's 11,000. The release was followed by the semi-headlining Nintendo Fusion Tour with Fall Out Boy, kicking off in September 2005. The band brought with them a new addition to their live performances, keyboardist Brian Schmutz. A friend of Vasoli's, the two had short lived side-project called Statue in 2004. A few dates into the tour, The Starting Line were