Although originally formed as a chamber pop quintet, matt pond PA went through several different lineups throughout its existence, with each incarnation revolving around the talents of singer/songwriter Matt Pond (previously of Mel's Rockpile). Pond formed the group upon relocating from New England to Philadelphia, and he filled out his first lineup with guitarist/bassist Josh Kramer, cellist Jim Hostetter, violinist Rosie McNamara-Jones, and drummer Sean Byrne. The band debuted in 1998 with Deer Apartments and won top honors in an unsigned band competition sponsored by online retailer CDNOW. A sophomore effort, Measure, followed in 2000 and garnered comparisons to a stripped-down version of the Cure, while the I Thought You Were Sleeping EP appeared in spring 2001. Within the next year, the band shifted its roster to include drummer Mike Kennedy, bassist Matt Raisch, guitarist Jim Kehoe, and cellist Eve Miller, alongside Pond and Hostetter. A third album (and the band's first release for the Polyvinyl label), The Green Fury, was released in spring 2002 while Pond also took on duties writing music for the Oxygen Network. The Nature of Maps followed several months later, marking the band's third release in two years.