Childhood friends Ralph Cuseglio (vocals) and Jon Gonnelli (guitar) yearned to play rock music and at the helm of grunge, the two formed Rye Coalition. David Leto joined in to play drums and brought along his childhood mate, Justin Morey, to play bass. A dynamic within the group was tight, while Herb Wiley was added to make it a sure fit. The members of Rye Coalition were barely 20 when they issued their five-song demo, The Dancing Man, in 1994. A few shows in and around their native New York sparked a fervent desire, but they were a working-class band who came from well-educated households. Cuseglio and Gonnelli attended college in New Jersey, whereas Wiley left the group in 1996 to do the same. Now a four-piece, Rye Coalition issued several 7" EPs, one split with Karp, and toured the country. Hee Saw Dhuh Kaet, the band's first studio effort, was released on Gern Blandsten in 1997; however, Morey departed for a West Coast venture. Leto's brother, Gregg Leto, moved in on drums, allowing Dave to take over bass duties. Rye Coalition, who's driving punk snarls were taking hold of scenes overseas, embarked on their first European tour in late 1997. Two years later, The Lipstick Game appeared and Morey returned after Gregg Leto left for college. By the new millennium, the band's regular responsibilities fell short when Cuseglio went to graduate school and the others took on day jobs in education. A six-month break was well-deserved, but Rye Coalition came out to play a gig with Shellac, Seam, Don Cab, and Uzeda in mid-2000. After such a powerful performance, they finally decided to make Rye Coalition a full-time thing. A deal with Tiger Style surfaced in 2001 and Wiley came back in time to record On Top with producer Steve Albini. A shared tour with Trans Am followed that winter, prepping Rye Coalition for the release of their third album.
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