BioBen Nichols and Brian Venable decided to start a country band with the idea of "country" being somewhere between the Pogues, Johnny Cash, Gram Parsons and Tom Waits. Brian said early on he wanted to be in a pretty country band that could play hardcore shows and piss off the punk rockers. However, much to his surprise, most of them liked it. Having no formal musical training and very little band experience, Ben and Brian were forced to keep the songs simple and straightforward. Most of the early songs were very slow, taking cues from bands like Ida and Calexico, which were big influences at the time.