John Grant returned to Denver, CO, and formed the first incarnation of the Czars with bassist Chris Pearson, drummer Jeff Linsenmaier, and a revolving door of guitarists. Andy Monley, who had played with Pearson in Jux County, offered his services on guitar and eventually became a full-time member. The band sent a copy of a self-produced CD to the Cocteau Twins' Simon Raymonde, who had just started his own label -- Bella Union -- with bandmate Robin Guthrie. Impressed with the band's diverse mix of shoegaze and alternative country, Raymonde eventually flew the band to his September Sound studio to record 2000's Before...But Longer. The Ugly People Vs. the Beautiful People followed in 2001.
The Czars released two more albums before splitting up in late 2004. Eager to continue his music career, Grant moved to New York and performed as a back-up musician for Midlake and the Flaming Lips. He also began working on a solo album with the support of Midlake's members, and the resulting Queen of Denmark was released in 2010.