The Flatliners x San Jose Sharks – The story of ‘Between Our Teeth,’ the NHL team’s 2023-24 season song

Words: Miljan Milekić

Punk rock and hockey seem to have a deep connection that spans through decades, whether it’s the Anaheim Ducks using Pennywise’s ‘Bro Hymn’ as their goal song for almost two decades now, the Boston Bruins staring overtime at their barn to the sounds of Dropkick Murphys’ ‘I’m Shipping Up to Boston,’ or a well-documented friendship between Good Ridance frontman – and hockey scout, mind you – Russ Rankin and legendary New Jersey Devils’ legendary defensemen, Norris Trophy winner, 4-times Stanley Cup champion and Hall of Famer Scott Niedermayer. Both, Green Day and Fallout Boy played NHL All-Star Games, while NHL Live video game soundtracks involved everyone from NOFX, Rancid, The Offspring, and Billy Talent to Gob, Sum 41, PUP, or SWMRS – in addition to every single band mentioned above.

And yet, somehow, it felt like out of nowhere when San Jose Sharks announced that their theme song for the 2023-2024 season would come from the Toronto punks The Flatliners. Totally! [It was a surprise] for us too! admits frontman Chris Cresswell when asked about it. “It was nothing we ever saw coming. It’s crazy because we’re not from the Bay Area. A couple of guys in the band are massive Leafs fans, Jon [Darbey] is also a big Chicago Blackhawks fan,” Chris shares, before adding jokingly – “So I didn’t know how would it go if I pitch the idea.” It was a surprise to their Toronto fans as well – “It’s funny ’cause people that know we’re from Toronto were like – ‘Why don’t you do this for the Leafs?’ And we’re like – ‘Well, they didn’t ask.’ The Sharks asked and we were down with it,” he laughs.

The Flatliners / Photo: Riley Taylor

However, what may have started off randomly, for sure wasn’t an accident – We have a friend who has been working with the Sharks for a long time, and there is this newer thing in the last five-ish years, with a lot of major league sports, where teams want a theme song for the season. A pump-up jam that each team uses at every home game. So, our friend is a punk dude, who toured with punk bands forever before he started working for the Sharks, and, he would tune the PA in SAP Center with The Flats song,Cresswell explains.

READ MORE: Check our interview with The Flatliners frontman Chris Cresswell about his new solo record ‘The Stubbornness of the Young’

He would play ‘Resuscitation of the Year,’ to test and tweak the PA, and by doing that, he brought all these punk and rock people out of the woodwork, who would be like – ‘Who’s this band?'” Chris continues. ”He unknowingly formed this group of punks in the Sharks organization, and, when the conversation got to the song for this season, everyone was like – ‘What about a punk song? A punk band doing it would be cool.’ And then they thought of us. Our friend hit us up, asking if we’d be interested in doing this, and of course, we were. And then, for the next month or two, he was running it up the chain of command.”

We were joking that he was lying to his boss and telling him we’re way bigger of a band than we are,” Cresswell laughs, before offering the clarification – “When you think of the bands that get those opportunities, they’re usually pretty big bands. And we’re not on that level.” It wasn’t, however, just a friendly connection that recommended the band for the job, as Chris recalls – “They loved that it’s a band from Hockey Town, which, I guess, is what everyone in the NHL calls Toronto, and also a band on Fat Wreck, the legendary punk label from the Bay Area.” 

The Flatliners / Photo: Riley Taylor

Eventually, the band received a teal light from the organization, but it came with a few special requests. “They needed it quickly,” Cresswell explains. “We wrote the song in July, recorded it in August, and it came out in October.” The timeline that reminded the band of their early days, as Chris recollects with a smile – “It took us two years to write our first record, but we didn’t make vinyl, it was just CDs. We finished it, got the master, and my older brother lent us the money to press 500 or however CDs. We had them a week later. This was the quickest turnaround since then – since 2004, and it was arguably one of the biggest things we’d done because it’s for an NHL team.”

READ MORE: Check out our interview with Californian ska reggae punk legends Mad Caddies

A tight deadline, however, wasn’t the only challenge the band faced. “It’s for a hockey team,” Chris explains.They wanted it to sound like us, but they also wanted it to be something the team and fans can rally behind. That informs certain decisions, but it was such a positive experience, and a fun challenge, that I’m glad we were able to rise to.” And by all means, they did, at least judging by the team’s reaction – “They invited us to play the home opener, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Cresswell starts the story with a huge smile. “It was so cool. We got to meet a bunch of the organization, tour the whole place, and stand on the center ice after the game. They made us jerseys!”

The whole Sharks organization, everyone was so cool and welcoming,” he continues. “They made us feel like the song we wrote was gonna be a really important thing, even if it’s just for a season. And that’s really hard to do in an industry where there’s so much going on. We got to see – for one night – firsthand. It’s television. It’s pro sports. There are so many moving pieces and so many people behind the scenes. But the fact that they took all this time and spent all this energy on making us feel welcome – they made a light projection onto the ice that matched up with the song, had our logo and some of the lyrics from the song. All these things they didn’t need to do, but did just made us feel like – “This is for us? Cool!” (laughs) It blew our minds.”

The Flatliners / Photo: Riley Taylor

“And it was such a fun night,” Cresswell adds. “We had some of the folks from Fat come out – Kenny from Dead to Me, Enemy You, and Western Addiction, he’s a great friend of ours. We actually got him to play a little guitar on the song because he’s a huge Sharks fan,” Chris laughs, “He sent us a DI track that we were able to re-amp and put on the song. So, he came out, the Lagwagon guys came out. It was a blast. It was a super fun night and an experience that we never thought we’d be able to have.”

READ MORE: Check out our interview with skate punk pioneers JFA

But despite all the fun, playing to 17,000 people at a hockey game is hardly just another day in the office for a band like The Flatliners. “It was incredible,” Cresswells says, before diving further into the experience. “Honestly, I think where we played in the arena really helped with the nerves. We were also there the day before rehearsing, and we’d been in the arena when no one else was in it – which was a pretty crazy experience in itself. Just being in an empty NHL arena, almost made it feel small in a weird way. But where we played, in that box, was great.”

“The room is the same size, maybe a little smaller than the room we jam in, in Toronto, so that was helpful,” Chris continues with a grin on his face. “It felt like it was us in a room – there was someone with a camera there, obviously, but it was cool. We had a great vantage point of the whole arena, aside from people above and below us in that one section, but we could see everything else.” He continued: “We played one song and then the game started. And then we played three more songs between the first and second periods. And our job was done! It just went by in a flash. I feel like, if we played on the ice, if we were more in the center of things, I would’ve fucking forgotten the words,” he added laughing. “Some disaster would’ve happened, I’m sure.”

The Flatliners / Photo: Riley Taylor

Luckily for everyone, especially the band, all disasters were avoided, helping Cresswell to lock up lifetime memories – in addition to unlocking some core ones. “One of my earliest memories of watching hockey on TV with my dad was the players skating out on the ice through the big shark mouth,” Chris remembers. “I was born in 87, and I think the Sharks started in ‘91. So, as a kid, it was so cool! I was so young, I hadn’t even seen ‘Jaws’ yet! I thought the sharks were so dangerous but so cool, and I remember that so vividly.”

And then, we got to see the shark’s mouth! It’s the same one – that they still use it! They spiff it up – fix it, paint it, but it’s the same metal piece they’ve used since then. It was so cool to see that in person,” Cresswell shared excitedly, before concluding through a laugh: “Then, I went home from that trip and three or four days later started the solo tour. So, it was a funny juxtaposition of The Flats playing this NHL game, and then, days later I’m playing at a little bar in Cleveland, with a hundred people. This is cool. This showbiz!

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