Formed by ex-Jerkwater and Traitors drummer Matt Skiba (vocals/guitar), Glenn Porter (drums/vocals) ??? formerly of 88 Fingers Louie ??? and Rob Doran (bass/vocals), Alkaline Trio was brought together in 1997 by heartbreak, angst, and the companionship of drinking. They issued the For Your Lungs Only EP just prior to Doran‘s departure in late 1997, later releasing Sundials the following year on Johann’s Face Records. Slapstick‘s Dan Andriano entered on bass, adding a complementary voice and songwriting style to Skiba‘s that would become the group’s signature dynamic. The three then started making a name for themselves all throughout the Midwest with their emotion-fueled, angst-ridden, dark pop-punk. With this lineup in full force, all while Skiba and Porter were working as bike messengers full-time, their first full-length, Goddamnit!, was released on Asian Man in 1998 to the praise of a following who related to their heartbreak tales and anti-cop rants.
Both Maybe I’ll Catch Fire and a self-titled singles collection followed in early 1999. The new millennium also included a series of changes: Glenn Porter exited in early 2000 and ex-Smoking Popes drummer Mike Felumlee made Alkaline Trio a three-piece again. From Here to Infirmary followed on Vagrant in spring 2001 and was met with only lukewarm fan response. But a split EP released by Jade Tree the next year found the Trio in top form again alongside Hot Water Music, both bands contributing original tracks and covers of each other’s songs. Good Mourning was released two years later, and the lineup by now included new drummer Derek Grant (ex-Suicide Machines, Thoughts of Ionesco). Good Mourning did well, grazing the Billboard charts and scoring Alkaline Trio spots on late-night TV and summer tours. Crimson followed in 2005 and continued the band’s streak. Touring persisted over the summer, both as a headliner and in support of My Chemical Romance. A spring 2006 run (with openers Against Me!) delighted devout fans from early on with a set that mostly contained tunes from initial releases, including an entire run-through of the fan-favorite Goddamnit! By fall, Alkaline Trio had found a new home at V2 Records and began work on their next album, although label restructuring problems in January 2007 led to the band being let go before anything was released. That same month Vagrant issued the CD/DVD Remains, which rounded up B-sides and rarities, and in May it was annouced that the Trio had found a new home on Epic.