The story of Against Me! began in Naples, FL back in 1997. Tom Gabel, who was playing in a local grind-core band at the time, started playing under the name as a solo project with no intentions of doing anything beyond making a demo tape, and overcoming stage fright by playing a show by himself. Shortly after these goals were realized, he started collaborating with his friend Kevin Mahon (now of the band forgetters), who accompanied him on a make-shift drum set built out of scavenged (dumpster) pickle buckets and whatever real drum parts they could round up. The two then recorded another 10 song demo tape entitled Vivida Vis on a four track tape recorder in Tom's bedroom at his mother's house. They self-released the album by dubbing copies on boom boxes and stealing photo copies for the covers and lyric booklet. Tom and Kevin moved to Gainesville in 1999 and released their first self-recorded, self-titled 5 song 12" EP on the Baltimore label Crasshole Records in 2000. This was followed by their first 7" EP, recorded by Rob Mcgregor at Goldentone studios, entitled Crime As Forgiven By… and released by Sabot Productions in 2001. Shortly after, they were joined by James Bowman on guitar, followed by Dustin Fridkin on bass. After the last show of their first full fledged tour as a 4-piece band, while driving south on I-75 from Bloomington, IN back to Gainesville, FL their van was struck by a semi truck. They rolled multiple times and landed upside down in a ditch, and while all of their equipment and van were destroyed, everyone walked away from the accident relatively unscathed. It was at this point Kevin Mahon left the band to pursue an interest in train hopping. After briefly considering quitting altogether, Tom and Dustin continued under the name as a 2-piece releasing another 7" EP on Sabot Productions, fan-titled The Acoustic EP. Unsatisfied with playing music as an acoustic duo, Tom and Dustin began playing music with Warren Oakes on drums and were rejoined by James Bowman on guitar.