Best known as Interpol's distinctive baritone vocalist, Paul Banks was a singer/songwriter in his own right before joining that band. During the mid-'90s, he adopted the alias Julian Plenti to perform as an acoustic solo artist at New York venues such as the Knitting Factory and Tobacco Road. Around that time, Banks ran into his old friend, guitarist/vocalist Daniel Kessler, and joined his up-and-coming band Interpol. As the group worked its way from eight-track demos in the late '90s to signing with Matador Records in 2002, Banks continued to write and perform his solo material. However, as Interpol's fame and time commitments grew after the release of their debut album, Turn on the Bright Lights, the solo work was put on the back burner.
Interpol's self-titled fourth album arrived in 2010, and saw the band touring behind it into 2011. In 2012, after a ten-year anniversary deluxe reissue of Bright Lights, Banks returned to his solo career, issuing the Julian Plenti Lives EP — which featured covers of songs by J Dilla and Frank Sinatra — under his own name that June and following it with the simply named Banks album that October.