Armed with an angular, beat-heavy sound similar to that of Franz Ferdinand or the Kaiser Chiefs, the Sunshine Underground got their start playing gigs in the Leeds area in the early 2000s. They all went to high school in Shropshire, a county in southwestern England near the Welsh border. Craig Wellington was going to school in Shrewsbury and Stuart Jones, Daley Smith, and Matthew Gwilt went to school in Telford. Eventually, Gwilt was accepted to go to the University of Leeds, and the boys collectively moved there after graduation. They formed the Sunshine Underground soon after they got to Leeds, naming their band after a Chemical Brothers track.
¡Forward, Russia!'s "scene fixer," who promoted some of the Sunshine Underground's first shows. They captured the attention of audiences all over Britain when in 2005 the band won a popular BBC-1 battle of the bands competition called Fresh Meat. The band's debut single, "Put You in Your Place," was released on the City Rockers label in July of that year. They released another single in 2006, "Commercial Breakdown," and released their first full-length album, Raise the Alarm, on the same label a few months later. In August of that year, the band's single "Put You in Your Place" made it to number 39 in the Top 40.