In the summer of 2011, singer and songwriter Michael Ian Cummings met English guitarist Josh Hubbard at a party in Los Angeles. Several months later, Cummings received a call from Hubbard announcing that he would be arriving in New York City the following day from the UK. Cummings stated that he would like to play a gig, so the pair recruited drummer Noah Rubin and bassist Dan Burke, booked three shows, learned some songs Cummings and Rubin had been working on (and a handful of Pixies covers), and the band was formed.
Their debut record, Manhattan, contains stories of the city where they met. "We were all bartenders, so the songs are tales of experiences we had or saw, and other people who were characters in our life during the first year we were in this band," Cummings said. The album was recorded by John Hill in the API room at Greenwich Village's Electric Lady Studios.