The Comas formed in Chapel Hill, NC, in March 1998 as a joke country band, a sort of counterweight to the hyped No Depression movement. Before long, however, both the "joke" and the "country" parts of the concept were eliminated, thus allowing the band to develop into a quirky alternative rock outfit. The Comas' respectable 1999 debut, Wave to Make Friends, was comprised of sleepy (but not lethargic) indie pop and off-kilter boy-and-girl vocal harmonies, courtesy of co-founders Andrew Herod and Nicole Gehweiler. The band's instrumental canvas proved to be larger and more eclectic than that of the typical indie group, buoying the usual guitars and rhythm section with violin, organ, and creative non-rap samples. Faced with the challenge of labeling such music, the Comas' label billed deemed the sound "stoner pop."
The Comas issued Def Needle in Tomorrow during the fall of 2000; however, it was the 2004 release of Conductor that finally put the band on the map. Recorded after the collapsed relationship of frontman Andrew Herod and actress Michelle Williams, Conductor proved to be a fine breakup album, gathering accolades from major music magazines while also expanding the band's fan base. Riding on that success, the Comas signed with Vagrant in December 2005, and the ever-evolving band -- which at this point was comprised of Herod, Gehweiler, keyboardist Matt Sumrow, bassist Jason Caperton, and drummer Nic Gonzales -- released Spells in the spring of 2007. Two years later, Herod shifted his focus to Electric Owls, a side project whose music incorporated aspects of folk and psychedelia.