When singer/songwriter/guitarist Julia Deans enlisted the help of three friends in mid-1996 to demo some original material, there was no indication that a permanent group would result and that this group would have a New Zealand number one hit four years later.
Drummer Simon Braxton and Deans had jammed together a little beforehand. Guitarist Steve Wells and Deans met via a mutual acquaintance in 1995, and played in a band for about three months in 1995-1996. Wells and bass player Andrew Bain had played together in bands since 1990. Deans was the link between them all; it was also she who came up with the name Fur Patrol (she found it in an article she was reading).
Those demos Deans and her friends recorded together found attention at home in Wellington, but also attracted airplay on the national Triple J radio network in Australia and college radio in Ottawa. In 1997 and 1998, Fur Patrol was voted best original band at the Wellington music awards. The group released their first EP, the six-track Starlifter, in November 1998 through Wellington indie label Wishbone records, this time meeting with chart recognition. Deans was being described as somewhere between a tortured Kristin Hirsh and a seductive Chrissie Hynde.
The group's releases were accompanied by a solid diet of live performances. They had worked themselves into the position of becoming one of New Zealand's most popular bands. The October 2000 release of the Pet album was supported by a tour with fellow Wellington bands Weta and Shihad, and the band played sold-out shows in almost every city. Two months after its release, the album went gold, and the release of the "Lydia" single met with across-the-board airplay, sending it to the much-prized number one spot in mid-December. In March 2001, Fur Patrol relocated to Australia.