What started off as a recording project developed into a full-time band for vocalist/guitarist Eric Blair by June 2000. Blair took inspiration from the late-'70s New York punk and new wave scenes when he began writing and committing his original songs to his four-track recorder in 1998. His friend, saxophonist/vocalist Sam Krall, assisted on some of the tracks and was featured on the band's self-titled debut CD, released in the fall of 1999 on Blair's Garage Tapes label. Since Blair didn't have a drummer or bassist for the record, he took it upon himself to record the majority of the instrumental tracks. Krall and Blair had met in a Toledo, OH, cover band called Tito Slack around 1997. The two decided to break away from performing other people's music and started writing their own material. After they recorded their debut album and self-released it, they added drummer Jay Thomas (aka Jayant) in February of 2000. Thomas and Blair had met while attending graduate school at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, OH. The rhythm section was rounded out following two bass player auditions, when the band stumbled upon Henri Bouchard, who expressed the greatest motivation to play.
After Thomas' and Bouchard's entrance into the group, the New Machines were finally able to undergo the metamorphosis from recording project to live band. The live shows broke away from the two-minute pop song format displayed on the group's debut release and expanded the tracks into lengthy improvisations. At that time, Orchard Records caught wind of the band and re-released the self-titled debut album. That summer, the New Machines played the Green Grass Festival in Wooster, OH, and opened for the Crown Jewels in Toledo. In February of 2001, the New Machines began recording new songs at Thomas' house for their sophomore release. The following month, Bouchard left the band just as it was about to embark on a trip to the Chicago club Morseland. Opting to play as a bass-less three-piece, the group kept its scheduled appearance in Chicago, where they opened for Silo the Huskie and Quasar Wut-Wut. Upon their return to Ohio, the band added bassist Jim DeGregorio from Thomas' other group, Lloyd Wred. Blair relocated to Cincinnati, OH, that summer, but he continued to drive to Toledo in order to practice with the rest of the New Machines.