Punk rock fans Bobby Darling and Nic Newsham weaned themselves on melodic punk revivalists like Lagwagon and Propagandhi until they decided to start a band together. Drafting bassist Kirk Huffman and drummer Dustin McGhie, the band christened themselves Gatsbys American Dream and attempted to start a rock band. Teaming with producer Aaron Sprinkle, the group recorded Why We Fight in the spring of 2002 for a summer release on Rocketstar. Next progressing past simply playing fast punk, GAD returned in July 2003 with the more multifaceted and indie rock-leaning Ribbons and Sugar, a concept album inspired by George Orwell's Animal Farm. Drummer McGhie left during those sessions and was replaced by Rudy Gajadhar (ex-Waxwing). The EP In the Land of Lost Monsters followed in 2004 on Chicago's LLR Records. The Gatsbys jumped to Fearless for the April 2005 effort Volcano; another concept album, this one was based loosely around the prideful Roman city of Pompeii that was destroyed twice by volcanic activity. Fans loved the album, and much touring ensued after the release, including early 2006 dates with the Starting Line, Copeland, and Cartel and a full U.S. headlining tour that spring. Keyboardist Kyle O'Quin was also officially added to Gatsbys' lineup while on the road. Opting out of the Warped Tour, the band took some needed time off during the summer before their searing self-titled follow-up appeared in early August.