The Orwells were attending high school in Elmhurst, Illinois when they formed in 2009. Cousins Mario Cuomo (vocals) and Dominic Corso (guitar) teamed up with brothers Grant (bass) and Henry Brinner (drums), alongside their friend Matt O'Keefe (guitar), and started making music together. Along with hitting the books and skating, the Orwells started recording their raucous indie rock songs. In 2011, they signed to L.A.-based blogger Justin Gage's Autumn Tone record label after they sent him a link to their video with hopes it would lead to being featured on his website. The combination of their raw youth and rasping melodies on single "Mallrats (La La La)" was picked up by bloggers and was swiftly followed by the release of their debut album, Remember When, in 2012. They graduated high school early in 2013 and immediately set out on the road and toured nonstop for the majority of the year, stopping briefly to record the Other Voices EP with TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek in the summer.
Jim Abbiss (Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian) to work on new material. The following year they toured North America with Arctic Monkeys and made a memorable appearance on Late Show with David Letterman. Their sophomore effort, Disgraceland, was released in 2014 and reached number 69 on the Billboard album chart. The Orwells spent time touring and hanging out in their shared apartments (one of which housed an indoor skate ramp), and started working on songs for their next album. Inspired by films and books, Cuomo pushed himself to write more mature lyrics. The other bandmembers responded by cleaning up their sound and, with the help of producer Jim Abiss, added some sonic muscle to the songs. Terrible Human Beings was released by Atlantic at the beginning of 2017.