BioIt's natural that most bands are generally made up of people that were in bands before their present one, and probably had bands before their last band. It doesn't necessarily give any more merit to the new act (unless you were really successful in your last band and then the question stands as to why you would start a new band if indeed your last band was huge and you made a boatload of money...), but it does provide a point of reference. So, it only stands to reason that the members of The Life and Times did have bands prior to joining forces; it's just that none of the bands were that rich and successful.
Singer/guitarist Allen Epley's band Shiner (DeSoto) developed a small but fiercely loyal following for what many believe to have been a higher level of song-craft and rockin'-ship than what one might expect from a band that played so fucking loud. But after ten years; four full-lengths; a live EP; many 7"s including one of the SubPop Singles Club variety; many successful tours of the US, Europe, and Japan; Shiner made a decision to stop while they were ahead and individually proceed into uncharted waters.
Bassist/synth-ist Eric Abert played for St. Louis' proggers Ring, Cicada; who recorded a brilliant full-length with Steve Albini in 2002 and toured the US in support of Good Morning Mr. Good (54o40' or Fight!) before calling it a day. They were mostly instrumental, slightly vocal, two parts prog - one part pop, with endless attention to detail. That same songwriting ethos could be applied to drummer Chris Metcalf’s other main unit The Stella Link. Mystic Jaguar... Attack!!!! (Ascetic), released in 2004 and mixed by the band over more than a year's time, proves they are easily the best torch carriers of what was known to many as the "Kansas City Sound".
However, The Life and Times formed in January of 2003 with Epley at the helm, and crazy as it might seem, Abert and Metcalf had yet to enter the scope of things. Bassist John Meredith and drummer Mike Myers recorded the Flat End of the Earth EP (54o40' or Fight!) with Epley and spent more than a year's time with the band before deciding to opt out; Meredith's muse called him to Brooklyn and Myers found a high-paying day job he couldn't refuse.
Eric Abert joined right before Myers departed in early 2004. But what Abert hadn't anticipated was how long they would wander the desert in search of the right drummer -- one very skinny Chris Metcalf. Finally, in July 2004, Metcalf and Epley spoke a little, then rocked a lot, prompting Abert's move from St. Louis to Kansas City. The dogs barked and the angels sighed...
Immediately, writing with this line-up was very easy. Songs came very quickly, seemingly from nothing. They kept only three songs from the Myers/Meredith era, as they did not want to miss an opportunity to showcase all this new material, and apparently neither did the recently exhumed DeSoto Records' Kim Coletta and Bill Barbot.
By November 2004, The Life and Times found themselves at Matt Talbott’s Great Western Record Recorders studio just south of Champaign, IL, with former Shiner bassist Paul Malinowski twisting knobs, so to speak. Great performances were put to tape in this time, but after more than three weeks recording, working and mixing with Malinowski, the songs still required more fine tuning.
So, on January 1st, 2005, Abert and Epley flew from Kansas City to Baltimore to mix with Epley's personal Obi-Wan -- J.Robbins (Jawbox, Burning Airlines, Channels) -- with a hard-drive chock full o' songs. Five sweaty and feverish days later, Suburban Hymns had finally, magically come together.