Originally from Auburn, AL, Hot Rod Circuit comprised Andy Jackson (vocal, rhythm guitar), Casey Prestwood (lead guitar, vocals), Jay Russel (bass, vocals), and Wes Cross (drums), and could be compared to other post-grunge emo rock bands such as Jawbox and the Get Up Kids. In their earlier days, Hot Rod Circuit was known as Antidote, under which name they released the album Mr. Glenbowski. The album earned the group a 1998 Best Unsigned Band Award from Musician magazine. Shortly after the award, they named themselves Hot Rod Circuit, and with the change in name came a change in scenery, as the band relocated to Connecticut. There they released their debut album, 1999's If I Knew Now What I Knew Then, through New York-based Triple Crown under their new moniker. To promote the album the group toured with the Get Up Kids, Jazz June, and At the Drive-In before following up with If It's Cool with You It's Cool with Me in fall 2000. In spring 2002, Hot Rod Circuit released Sorry About Tomorrow, their first for Vagrant, while that fall Triple Crown issued Been There, Smoked That, a compilation of sorts that contained an out of print self-titled EP from 1999 along with other previously unreleased early material. Tours with acts like Dashboard Confessional and Saves the Day supported their records on the road, as the guys began writing new material inspired by the college rock they grew up on, like the Pixies, Dinosaur Jr., and the Lemonheads. Their resulting more matured Vagrant follow-up, Reality's Coming Through, was produced by Tim O'Heir and surfaced in August 2004. Tour dates with Straylight Run, Piebald, and the Snake the Cross the Crown followed, along with a spot on 2005's Bamboozle Festival. Russel exited the band that June, forcing the guys to drop off the Get Up Kids' farewell tour. By fall 2006, Hot Rod Circuit had found a new label home at Immortal Records and released The Underground Is a Dying Breed in March 2007. By then, the quartet comprised Jackson and Prestwood alongside bassist Joe Balaro and drummer Dan Duggins.