Following the 1995 dissolution of the quirky art-pop band Heavy Vegetable, guitarist/singer/songwriter Rob Crow and lead singer Eléa Tenuta regrouped in Thingy, which turned into one of the restless and prolific Crow's main creative outlets. Both natives of the San Diego area, Crow and Tenuta added bassist Jason Soares (formerly of Loader, Rice, and Stacatto Reads) and quickly cut a seven-song EP, Staring Contest, which was released on Heavy Vegetable's old label Headhunter/Cargo in 1996. Its drummerless, mostly acoustic approach was a marked departure from Heavy Vegetable's short, fractured, progressive compositions and punk roots. It was only temporary, though, as drummer Mario Rubalcaba -- also of the Black Heart Procession and formerly of cult emo faves Clikatat Ikatowi -- subsequently came on board. The band plugged their instruments back in for their first full-length effort, 1997's Songs About Angels, Evil, and Running Around on Fire, which bore a stronger resemblance to Heavy Vegetable's work. Meanwhile, Crow and Soares both moonlighted as part of synth minimalists Physics; Crow also made some solo recordings, both under his own name and as Snotnose, and worked with punkers Fantasy Mission Force and indie popsters Optiganally Yours.
With all the side projects going on, it took Thingy awhile to craft its second album. The same quartet lineup finally released To the Innocent in 2000, this time on the Absolutely Kosher label. Rubalcaba subsequently left the band to move to Chicago, while Soares also departed to focus on Physics and its posthumous offshoot, Aspects of Physics. Rubalcaba's replacement was Brent Asbury, while Soares was replaced at first by Physics bandmate Cameron Jones, who also doubled as the drummer for Crow's other main band of the time, Pinback. Jones moved to Portland in 2001, where he founded Two Guys with his brother Ryan; he was replaced in Thingy by Kenseth Thibideau. Crow concentrated mainly on Pinback for the next several years, but continued to work on new material with Thingy, with a third album slated for some indefinite future date.