Reflux, seven- and eight-string guitar wizard Tosin Abasi was asked to record a solo album by the group's then-label, Prosthetic Records, once the group disbanded. At first, Abasi declined on the grounds that to do so would be "egotistical," but he eventually relented and founded a new entity named Animals as Leaders (inspired by Daniel Quinn's 1992 anthropocentric novel Ishmael) to function as this solo project. An eponymous debut album followed in April of 2009 and saw Abasi handling all guitar and bass tracks, while drums and other synthesized sound effects were programmed by engineer Misha Mansoor. Abasi and company followed up in 2011, when Animals as Leaders released their sophomore effort, Weightless. The following year, the band signed on with Sumerian Records, on which they would release their third album. The resulting The Joy of Motion, released in 2014, debuted at number 23 on the Billboard 200 chart. Described by drummer Matt Garstka as "the most collaborative effort for the band" to date, Madness of Many, the group's much-anticipated fourth studio outing, dropped in 2016. Two years later, they delivered the concert album Animals as Leaders Live 2017, which debuted in the Top 30 of the Billboard Independent Albums chart.