A guitar pop combo formed by four veterans of the long-thriving college pop scene of Champaign-Urbana, IL, the Signalmen recall the artier side of '70s new wave (specifically Television, whose twin guitar interplay the band acknowledges as a major influence) while remaining squarely in the indie pop ethos.
The Signalmen were formed in 1998 by Steve Burton and Michael Brosco. Longtime friends, Burton and Brosco had collaborated before, first when Brosco produced three albums by Burton's experimental band the Lonely Trailer in the late '80s. Brosco's previous duo, Proof of Utah, had spent over a decade recording challenging art rock for Chris Cutler's Recommended Records and other labels; Burton played bass for the duo's live dates and appeared as a guest musician on their later albums. When Proof of Utah broke up, Burton and Brosco began writing and demoing songs together, adding Tim McKeage (formerly of the Outnumbered, Weird Summer, and the Last Straw) on bass and Jeff Evans on drums. This lineup released their self-titled debut in 1999. During the sessions for the follow-up, 2001's punningly titled Falsetto Teeth, Evans left the band to return to college. He was replaced by Brian Reedy, Burton's former Lonely Trailer bandmate who also played in the early Champaign-Urbana band Ack Ack.